Pet owners live with their dogs and cats 365 days a year and are in the best position even more so than a veterinarian to recognize what’s normal and what’s not.  While your pet is healthy and happy, create a baseline first aid health chart that lists vital signs for each dog or cat in your home.  This guide should include and provide you with the following information:

Since each pet is an individual, a range of readings may be normal.  Once you’ve determined what your pet’s specifics are, anything outside this individual “normal” range will alert you to a problem that may need to be addressed.  This will also help you assess how serious the condition might be, what first-aid steps you need to take, and if first-aid is all that’s needed or if treatment is best left to a veterinarian.

Shojai, Amy D. The First Aid Companion For Dogs & Cats. Rodale, Inc., 2001.