The Revision Guide for Student Nurses (Part I)

Vital Signs - Answers


  1. State the normal temperature ranges for an adult cat and dog (in degrees C).
    • Cat - 38-38.5 degrees Celsius.
    • Dog - 38.3-38.7 degrees Celsius.
  2. List 6 methods employed to control the body temperature of a hospitalised patient.
    • Heat pad, hot water bottle or heat lamp.
    • Bubble wrap for insulation.
    • Warming food and fluids to body temperature.
    • Warm ambient temperature and good ventilation (avoiding draughts).
    • Physiotherapy to improve circulation.
    • Fans and icepacks for cooling.
  3. What does the term 'poikilothermic' mean?
    A poikilothermic patient is one that is unable to control its own body temperature by the usual means such as shivering. Reptiles and neonates are poikilothermic.
  4. State the normal respiratory rates for an adult cat and dog.
    • Cat - 20-30 breaths per minute.
    • Dog - 10-30 breaths per minute (small dogs have a faster respiratory rate than large ones).
  5. State the normal heart rates for an adult cat and dog.
    • Cat - 110-180 beats per minute (although up to 200 may be normal).
    • Dog - 60-180 beats per minute (small dogs have a faster heart rate than large ones).
  6. What is the difference between pulse and heart beat?
    The pulse is the local rhythmic contraction of an artery (contraction of the left ventricle), while the heart beat is the closure of the heart valves.
  7. What is meant by the term 'pulse deficit'?
    The pulse rate is lower than the heart rate. This is indicative of dysrhythmia.
  8. What is meant by the term 'sinus arrhythmia'?
    This describes the increase in pulse rate on inspiration and decrease on expiration. This is a normal condition.
  9. List 6 pulse points.
    • Sublingual artery (tongue).
    • Femoral artery (stifle).
    • Carotid artery (neck).
    • Tarsal (tarsus of hind limb).
    • Labial (upper lip).
    • Digital (below carpal pad of forelimb).
  10. State the normal calorific requirements of an adult cat and dog per day.
    • Cat - 200 kcal/0.5kg/day.
    • Dog - 60 kcal/0.5kg/day.
  11. What is the normal water intake of an adult cat and dog per day?
    • Cat - 60-70mls/kg/day.
    • Dog - 40-60mls/kg/day.
  12. State the normal urine pH ranges for an adult cat and dog.
    • Cat - 6-7
    • Dog - 5.2-6.8
  13. State the normal urine specific gravity ranges for an adult cat and dog.
    • Cat - 1.020-1.060
    • Dog - 1.015-1.045
  14. List 3 conditions that may cause an increased urine specific gravity.
    • Dehydration.
    • Renal dysfunction.
    • Shock.
  15. List 3 conditions that may cause a decreased urine specific gravity.
    • Polydipsia.
    • Diabetes insipidus.
    • Pyometra.
  16. State the normal capillary refill time.
    The normal CRT should be less than 2 seconds.
  17. List the signs of shock.
    • Depressed demeanour.
    • Pallor (pale mucous membranes).
    • Dry mucous membranes.
    • Prolonged capillary refill time (i.e. greater than 2 seconds).
    • Rapid, feeble pulse.
    • Tachypnoea.
    • Tachycardia.
    • Cold extremities.
    • Hypothermia.
    • Collapse (convulsions if the brain becomes hypoxic).
  18. List 10 reflexes useful in the examination and assessment of a patient.
    • Palprebal (blink reflex).
    • Menace.
    • Pedal/flexor withdrawal (toe pinch).
    • Jaw tone.
    • Conscious proprioception (placing reflex).
    • Anal tone.
    • Panniculus (skin twitch).
    • Patellar.
    • Biceps/triceps.
    • Ischial ligament of buttock.
  19. Name the lymph nodes.
    • Parotid (ear base).
    • Retropharyngeal (back of pharynx).
    • Submandibular (lower cheek).
    • Prescapular (in front of shoulder blade).
    • Axilliary (axilla, under forearm).
    • Bronchial (lateral chest).
    • Cysterna chyli (lateral abdomen).
    • Mesenteric (lateral abdomen).
    • Superficial inguinal (inguinal region).
    • Popliteal (top of stifle).
  20. Give 5 functions of the lymph nodes.
    • Transport of digested foods especially fats.
    • Filtering bacteria.
    • Filtering foreign substances.
    • Lymphocyte production.
    • Return of excess fluid to the circulation.

Note: A Practical Task: Performing a clinical examination of an adult dog accompanies this module.