Vital Signs


  • Normal temperature for dogs and cats is between 101 degrees F (38 deg C) and 103 degrees F (39.5 deg C). Abnormal is below 101/38 or above 103/39.5


  • Normal heart rates for dogs are 70-160 beats per minute.
  • Normal heart rates for cats are 160-240 beats per minute.


  • Normal respiratory rates for dogs are 10-30 breaths per minute.
  • Normal respiratory rates for cats are 20-30 breaths per minute.

How do you check vital signs?

  • Use only rectal thermometers for pets. New, human digital thermometers are best.
  • Heart rate can be checked by placing a hand over the animal’s chest
  • Respiration can be measured by observing the flanks or by holding a wet finger in front of the nostrils
  • Measure both rates for 15 seconds and then multiply by four to get the rate per minute.
  • Make sure the animal is in a calm, resting state to get normal rates.