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Albuquerque VetCo

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How to Check Your Pet’s Vitals

cat vitals

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

So often when we talk about your pet’s health we talk about checking their pulse, breathing, and temperature. But how do you do that? Learning how to check your pet’s vital signs is a great way to keep track of their health and know when something is wrong. There are three main vitals to check: their heart rate, respiratory (breathing) rate, and temperature.

What are normal vitals for your pets?

In order for you to know if something is wrong, you first have to know what is right.

Normal Heart Rates:

A normal rate means their resting rate. You do not want to take their heart rate after walking or running around. Take it after they have been sitting or lying for a few minutes. Count the beats for 15 seconds and multiply that by 4 to get their beats per minute.

  • Small dogs: 80 to 130 beats per minute
  • Large dogs: 60 to 100 beats per minute
  • Cats: 140 to 180 beats per minute (a non-resting rate could be as high as 220)

Here is how you check your pet’s pulse:

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Respiratory Rate

You can check their respiratory rate by watching them breathe. Make sure to pay attention to any irregular breathing rhythms or sounds.  Their in-breath and out breath should be roughly equal in length. Simply count the number of breaths for 15 seconds and multiply that by 4 and you will have their respiratory rate.

  • Dogs: 10 to 30 breaths per minute
  • Cats: 20 to 40 breaths per minute


You need to take their temperature rectally. We have a great blog that will teach you how to take your pet’s temperature. A normal temperature should be between 100.5 to 102.5.