Animal Health and Wellness

     Do you know your pets’ ‘normals’? The letters TPR stand for Temperature, Pulse and Respiration. These are the basic vital signs you should be familiar with when it comes to your adult pets. I’m going to throw a B in there to represent behavior- is the behavior you are seeing normal for your pet?

     I get regular calls from animal owners claiming their pet is in the process of dying, and I am asked to address their emergency situation. Trust me, I understand how emotional and scary these times can be. Having basic information to refer to can help- Is your pet’s temperature higher than normal? Is your cat drinking more water lately? Is your horse colicky or taking his regular nap at noon (like my horse did every day)….?

     A digital rectal thermometer can give you a temperature within a minute. You can lubricate the thermometer with Vaseline or olive oil to make insertion much easier. I recommend taking the time to get your pet comfortable with this procedure as some animals consider it to be very rude. The temperature of dogs and cats can range from 100.0 to 102.2. Horses have a range of 99.0 to 101.0 and goats run a little higher at 102.0 to 103.0. Consider all the factors when establishing whether your pet has a normal (for them) temperature- Is it a hot day? Did your pet just exercise?

     Getting a heart rate can be done with a stethoscope or you can palpate with your fingers. Press the stethoscope (or your palm) over the rib cage just behind the left elbow. Obtaining a resting heart rate as well as an exercising heart rate can give you an idea of your pet’s range. In dogs, the heart rate can be from 60-160 per minute and cats’ heart rates can be between 140-220 per minute. Horses are between 38-45 and goats are between 70-90 beats per minute.

     Respirations are also counted per minute- simply watch and count for 15 seconds, then multiply by 4. Dogs range from 16-32 breaths per minute and cats can range from 20-42 breaths per minute. Horses take about 10-24 and goats tend to take 10-30 breaths per minute. Observe your pet’s breathing regularly, so you will notice any changes- Does your pet suddenly have labored breathing?

     Observe, stay informed and know the basics about your pets. Next month- Concerning Behaviors Indicating Pain. 

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Alameda Poet Andrena Zawinski