Vital Signs of Cats and Dogs

Date: 9/22/2010

Recognizing the normal and abnormal vital signs of dogs and cats is the first step in evaluating if an animal is sick and requires First Aid and Veterinarian attention.

Cats and dogs normal rectal temperature

Taking an animal’s rectal temperature is the definite way to know if your pet has a fever or is in hypothermia.

Use a rectal pediatric thermometer lubricated with Vaseline.

It is a misconception to estimate the condition of an animal by whether its nose is cool or warm. An animal may have a cool nose and a burning fever of 103 F!

Warm ears on the other hand can be an indication of fever or freezing ears an indication of hypothermia.

Normal Temperature: 100.5F -102.5 F (38.0 C- 39.1 C)
Abnormal; Hypothermia (T<37.5 C); Hyperthemia (T>39.1 C)

Normal respiratory rate for dogs and cat


Cats – 20-30 breaths /minute

Cats panting – up to 300 pants/minute

Cats do not usually pant unless they are in a stressful situation (going to the vets), frightened, in hot weather. They should not pant for more than a few minutes at a time. If panting persists and animal cannot return to normal breathing treat as an emergency.


Puppies 15-40 breaths/minute

Dogs 10-30 breaths/minute

Toy breeds (small dogs) 15-40 breaths/minute

Dogs that are panting – up to 200 pants/minute

Abnormal breathing:

If while breathing the abdomen is expanding instead of the chest on inhalation your pet is not breathing normally. You should seek veterinary care.