Normal Vital Parameters

Temperature:  99.5-101.4

Pulse Rate:  32-40

Respiratory Rate:  8-16

Capillary Refill Time:  1-2 Seconds

Temperature:  99.5-102

Pulse Rate:  40-60

Respiratory Rate:  8-16

Capillary Refill Time:  1-2 Seconds

Temperature:  99.5-102

Pulse Rate:  60-80

Respiratory Rate:  20-40

Capillary Refill Time:  1-2 Seconds

Temperature:  99.5-102

Pulse Rate:  60-120

Respiratory Rate:  30-60

Capillary Refill Time:  1-2 Seconds

Tips on Proper Technique

Pulse Rate:  The pulse can be found below the jawbone, where the halter usually is. There is a large artery that courses over the bone, here you can trap that artery with your finger firmly and count the pulses felt during a fifteen second block of time and then multiply that number by four to achieve the final pulse rate per minute.  Another way to obtain the heart rate would be to place a stethoscope underneath the horse’s left elbow, each lub-dub is one beat. The horse’s pulse rate will typically increase after exercise as well as when they are excited, nervous or painful. When checking the heart rate always allow the horse time to settle. When initially attempting to obtain the pulse, the horse may temporarily increase the heart rate and falsely give you an abnormal reading. Take your time and continue to check the rate several times to get a more accurate count.

Respiratory Rate:  The respiratory rate in a horse is best calculated by watching the chest excursions and counting in a fifteen second block of time then multiplying by four to get breaths per minute. Alternately the respiratory rate can be measured by placing your hand just over the nose and counting the breaths. Ensure to not to count one inhale and exhale as one breath and not two.

Temperature:  Often times digital thermometers are used when obtaining the horse’s temperature.  Be sure and leave the thermometer in place until the beep, or you might get a falsely low reading.

 

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