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    Basic Health Check for Cats and Dogs


    The normal temperature of cats and dogs is 38 - 39.5 degrees Celsius (99 - 102 degrees F).

    To take you cat or dogs temperature you need a plastic digital thermometer, which you can easily and cheaply purchase from your local pharmacy.
    Lubricate the end of the thermometer with a little Vaseline or KY Jelly.
    Lift up your pet's tail and slowly insert the tip of the thermometer into the rectum.
    The digital thermometer will usually beep when the temperature has been recorded.
    If you are not getting a reading, the thermometer may need to go a little further into the rectum.

    If your pet's temperature is below 95 degrees F or above 106 degrees F, your pet should be taken to a Vet.

    Heart Rate

    Normal resting heart rates:

    Puppies. 120-240 bpm
    Small dogs. 90-180 bpm
    Large dogs. 60-90 bpm

    Kittens. 200-300 bpm
    Cats. 120-240 bpm

    To measure the heart rate, you need to position yourself above your pet with their head facing in front of you. Place your left hand under you pet's elbow against the rib cage and you should be able to feel a strong heart beat.
    Once you have found the heart rate, count the beats for 15 seconds and multiply this number by 4 to get the 'beats per minute.'

    Alternatively, you can also find a heartbeat on the femoral artery, which lies in the groin area where the hind leg meets the body. I find this easiest to find when they are lying down on their side and relaxed.

    Breathing Rate

    Normal breathing rate when your pet is resting:
    Dogs 10 - 30 breaths a minute
    Cats. 10 - 40 breaths a minute

    A dog that has been exercising or is attempting to cool their body down in hot weather will breath up to 200 times a minute. Always be sure that your dog has fresh drinking water available.
    A cat, when healthy and under normal conditions will not breath with an open mouth.
    If your cat is breathing or panting with an open mouth you will need to seek veterinary attention.

    Checking Hydration

    Between your thumb and forefinger, grasp the skin at the base of the neck and pull it firmly upwards. Now release your grasp and watch the skin return to its normal position. In a healthy, well-hydrated pet, the skin should snap back into position like a strong elastic band. If the skin moves back into position slowly or remains in the pulled up position, your pet is dehydrated and needs veterinary attention.

    Gum and Capillary Refill Time

    In a healthy pet gums should be pink.
    If the gums are pale your pet could be anemic or in shock.
    If the gums are blue, your pet is not getting enough oxygen and maybe having trouble breathing.
    Yellow gums could be signaling liver problems.
    Red gums indicate heat stroke or carbon monoxide poisoning.

    Lift up your pets upper lip and press your forefinger against the pink gum above the teeth. This will cause the gum to turn white under your finger pressure. Release the gum and watch how long it takes for the gum to return to pink again. It should be 1-2 seconds. If it takes 2-4 seconds your pet may be dehydrated or in shock. More than 4 seconds is an emergency situation and your pet needs a vet ASAP.

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