Arterial Pulse Examination

Introduction: The arterial pulse examination of dogs, cats and other pets is mainly based on the femoral artery, mainly to check the animal’s pulse rate (pulse count), pulse nature (pulse size, intensity, softness and hardness, filling state, etc.) and changes in pulse rhythm.

The arterial pulse examination of pets such as dogs and cats is mainly based on the femoral artery. During an examination, hold the lower part of one hind limb of the animal with one hand, place the index finger and middle finger of the other hand on the femoral artery on the medial side of the femur, and place the thumb on the lateral side of the femur.

Measurement of pulse rate at the femoral artery

Measurement of pulse rate at the femoral artery of a dog
Description: The measurement should be performed after the animals are quiet. During the inspection, press the pulp of the index finger, middle finger and ring finger on the blood vessel, slide it left and right, and you can feel the blood vessel sliding under the finger like an elastic rubber tube. Generally, it should be tested for one minute. When checking the pulse, attention should be paid to the frequency, rhythm, tension, elasticity, strength and waveform changes of the arterial wall.

Mainly check the animal’s pulse frequency (pulse count), pulse nature (pulse size, intensity, softness and filling state, etc.) and changes in pulse rhythm.

1. Pulse rate

The pulse rate (pulse count) of healthy animals refers to the number of pulses measured per minute, expressed in beats/min. The number of pulses is equal to the number of heartbeats. The pulse rate of dogs is 70-120 beats/min, and that of cats is 110-140 beats/min.

Under normal circumstances, the pulse rate of various animals is easily affected by external conditions and physiological factors, such as fright, excitement, excessive exercise, oversatisfaction, and excessive external temperature. Among the individual conditions of the animal, factors such as breed and sex also affect the pulse rate, but the age factor has a greater influence. Generally, the pulse count of young animals is significantly higher than that of adult animals.

(1) Increased pulse

Increased pulse rate is the result of tachycardia. Can be found at:

  • Most febrile STDs;
    Certain heart diseases such as myocarditis, pericarditis;
  • In the pathological process of hypoxia, such as thoracic and respiratory diseases cause gas exchange disorders;
  • Various types of anemia and dehydration, blood loss diseases;
  • Accompanied by severe painful diseases and certain poisoning diseases.

(2) Reduced pulse

A decreased pulse is characteristic of bradycardia. It is mainly seen in certain encephalopathy such as epidemic encephalomyelitis and brain tumor; cholemia such as liver parenchymal lesion, etc.; certain poisoning (poisonous plants, pesticides, drugs) such as digitalis poisoning, etc.

2. The nature of the pulse

The nature of the pulse generally refers to the size of the pulse (the magnitude of the pulse amplitude), the tension of the vessel (the softness and hardness felt by palpation), the filling degree of blood in the vessel (blood volume) and the shape of the pulse wave.

The nature of the pulse is affected by many factors, mainly determined by:

  • the contraction force of the heart;
  • The elasticity and tension of the vessel wall;
  • The amount of blood, including total blood volume and blood loss per heartbeat.

Changes in the nature of the pulse manifest as:

(1) Major pulse and minor pulse

According to the size of the pulse amplitude, the pulse size is proportional to the pulse pressure. Judgment is based on the amplitude of the pulse sensed by the fingers.

The larger pulse amplitude is called a major pulse, which means strong cardiac contractility, high stroke volume, high systolic blood pressure, and large pulse pressure difference. Major arteries can be seen when the heart function is good, the blood volume is sufficient, and the blood vessels are relatively slow, such as in the early stage of febrile venereal disease, myocardial hypertrophy or hyperfunction of the heart.

If the pulse amplitude is too small, it is called small pulse, which means that the cardiac contractility is weakened, the stroke volume is small, and the pulse pressure difference is small. Small veins are an indication of heart failure, and are also seen in cardiac insufficiency, blood pressure drop, tachycardia, anemia, massive blood loss, and dehydration.

(2) Hard pulse and soft pulse

According to the tension and resistance of blood vessels, it depends on the level of blood pressure. Judgment is based on finger perception of pulse tension and resistance.

Those with high tension and resistance of the vessel wall are called hard pulse, which means high blood vessel tension and blood vessel tension. Seen in elevated blood pressure, tetanus, acute nephritis and diseases accompanied by severe pain.

Vessel walls with low tension and resistance are called soft pulse, which means that the tension of blood vessels is reduced and the vessels are relaxed. Seen in blood pressure drop, heart failure, anemia, malnutrition, cachexia, etc.

(3) Real pulse and virtual pulse

Divided according to the blood filling degree in the vessel. Judgment is made by sensing the filling state of vessels with fingers.

Excessive filling of blood vessels is called a real pulse, which means that the blood vessels are well filled, the total blood volume is sufficient, and the heart activity is sound. Seen in the early stage of febrile venereal disease, cardiac hypertrophy, exercise, etc.

Insufficient blood volume filling in the vessels is called a virtual pulse, which means insufficient filling in the blood vessels and decreased blood volume. Seen in cardiac insufficiency, massive blood loss or dehydration.

(4) Tachypulse and delayed pulse

According to the change characteristics of the pulse waveform. It is judged by the length of time the pulse is in contact with the finger.

The delay of the pulse is determined by the duration of the rise and fall of the blood pressure at the root of the artery, the speed of the left ventricle contraction to drive blood into the artery and the speed of blood flow to the peripheral peripheral arteries.

① Tachypulse: The pulse waveform rises rapidly and then falls rapidly, and the pulse-checking finger disappears immediately after feeling the pulse. Seen in aortic insufficiency.

②Delayed pulse: The pulse waveform rises slowly and then falls slowly, and the pulse-checking finger takes a long time to feel the pulse. Seen in aortic stenosis, heart block, etc.

③The pulse is hard and small, called golden thread pulse; the pulse is soft and small, called a filiform pulse.

3. Pulse rhythm

Pulse rhythm refers to the uniformity of the interval time between each beat and the strength of each beat.

Under normal circumstances, the interval between each beat is equal and the intensity is called a rhythmic beat; the interval is unequal or the intensity is different called arrhythmia. Arrhythmia is generally a direct consequence of an irregular heartbeat.

4. Precautions for pulse examination

The size, hardness and softness, virtual and reality, and other properties of the above-mentioned pulse are often combined.

Usually only focus on the size and strength of the pulse in clinical diagnosis and treatment. That is, a large and strong pulse indicates that the heart has strong contractility and full blood volume; a small and weak pulse mostly indicates that the heart contractility is weak and the blood volume is insufficient.