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    How to Monitor Breathing, Animal Blood Pressure, and Temperature

    Taking your livestock animal's temperature, pulse rate and respiration readings can help you to gauge an animal’s overall health. In general, abnormal animal blood pressure, pulse rate in animals and other abnormal vital signs could indicate a larger problem. Monitoring your animals' vital signs can help you identify potential issues early so you can contact your veterinarian for further diagnosis.

    How to Take an Animal's Temperature

    To determine whether your animal's body temperature is normal, follow these steps to take a temperature reading.

    1. Use an animal thermometer.
    2. Tie a long string to the end of the thermometer.
    3. Insert the thermometer full length into the rectum.
    4. Remove in 2 to 3 minutes and read.

    Normal Animal Body Temperature by Species Chart

    Animal Normal Rectal Temperature Ranges Degrees (F)
    Cattle 100.4 - 102.9
    Sheep 100.9 - 103.8
    Goats 101.7 - 105.3
    Swine 102.0 - 103.6
    Horses 99.0 - 100.8

    Abnormal Body Temperature in Animals

    Determine if your animal's body temperature is normal, higher than normal, or lower than normal. Avoid taking your animal's temperature when it is extremely hot or cold outside, as air temperature can cause false readings. Also be aware that an animal's body temperature will naturally go up after periods of prolonged exercise or excitement.

    • An abnormally high body temperature in an animal can indicate the animal may be infected with a disease or virus that is causing the body to fight back. This is known as "having a fever" in humans.
    • An abnormally low body temperature in an animal may be caused by colder weather or during periods of prolonged rest, such as at night.

    How to Take an Animal's Pulse

    To take an animal's pulse, place your hand in the area indicated below and count the pulses in a timed minute.

    How to Monitor the Pulse of a Cow, Bull or Calf

    Cattle pulse can be monitored in several ways:

    • Place your hand on the outside of the cattle jaw.
    • Place your hand on the soft place immediately above the cow's inner dewclaw.
    • Place your hand just above the cow's hock joint.

    How to Monitor the Pulse of Sheep

    Place your hand on the inside of the sheep's thigh where the femoral artery comes close to the skin.

    How to Monitor the Pulse of Goats

    Place your hand inside of the goat's thigh where the femoral artery comes close to the skin.

    How to Monitor the Pulse of Pigs

    Place your hand inside of the pig's thigh where the femoral artery comes close to the skin.

    How to Monitor the Pulse of Horses

    The horse pulse can be monitored in several ways:

    • Place your hand at the margin of the horse's jaw where the artery winds around from the inner side.
    • Place your hand at the inside of the horse's elbow.
    • Place your hand under the horse's tail.

    How to Monitor Animal Breathing

    Place your hand on the animal's flank or observe the rise and fall of the flanks visually to count respirations in a timed minute. Observe the animal's breathing and condensation coming from the nostrils in the winter to count respirations in a timed minute.

    Animal Normal Pulse (rate/min.) Normal Respiration (rate/min.)
    Cattle 60 - 70 10 - 30
    Sheep 70 - 80 12 - 20
    Goats 70 - 80 12 - 20
    Swine 60 - 80 8 - 13
    Horses 32 - 44 8 - 16

     

    Abnormal Pulse Rate in Animals

    Determine if your animal's pulse rate is normal, higher than normal, or lower than normal.

    • Pulse rates will be higher in younger, smaller and more nervous animals.
    • Pulse rates will increase with exercise, excitement, digestion and high outside temperature.

    Abnormal Respiration in Animals

    Determine if your animal's respiration is normal or abnormal.

    • Respiration can be increased by recent exercise, excitement, hot weather or stuffy buildings.
    • Respiration can be accelerated if the animal is in pain or has a fever.