Dealing with a pet emergency can be frightening. Knowing basic lifesaving techniques in an emergency can save your pet’s life. Of course, whenever your pet is showing serious signs of a health issue, your first step is to contact your primary care veterinarian or an emergency veterinary hospital. If it is indicated that your pet may suffer from a serious condition, a veterinary specialist or emergency clinician is available at an ExpertVet certified or affiliated hospital.
Getting Vital Signs
Taking a Heart Rate or Pulse:
The heartbeat of a dog or cat can be felt at about the point where the left elbow touches the chest (about the fifth rib). Place your hand or stethoscope over this area and count the heartbeats. Pulses can also be felt with a light touch high up on the inner thigh approximately halfway between the front and back of the leg.
Normal Heart and Pulse Rates:
- Small breed dogs (up to 30 lbs): 100 - 160 beats per minute
- Medium to large breed dogs (over 30 lbs): 60 - 100 beats per minute
- Puppy (until 1 year old): 120 - 160 beats per minute
- Cats: 150 - 220 beats per minute
Normal Breathing Rates:
- Dogs: 10 - 30 breaths per minute, panting is faster
- Cats: 20 - 30 breaths per minute (Note: panting in a cat can be a sign of serious illness and may require immediate veterinary attention).
- Dogs: 100° - 102.5° F
- Cats: 100° - 102.5° F