How often do you get your blood pressure and heart rate checked by your doctor? Are you aware that it’s just as important to have your pet’s heart rate checked from time to time, especially if you want to pick up on any problems early on when they’re still potentially fully treatable?
Why don’t we find out what your dog’s heart rate should be and what it means when it’s faster or slower?
Stop Googling – Ask a Real Vet
- What Is the Normal Heart Rate for Dogs
- Resting Heart Rate for Dogs
- Why Does the Heart of a Dog Beat Quickly
- How is the Pulse Taken in a Dog
What Is the Normal Heart Rate for Dogs
Size plays an important factor in determining the normal heart rate of a dog. Larger dogs have slower heart rates than smaller ones, and that rate will increase following excitement, exercise, or strain.
Generally, the following are considered normal heart rates for dogs:
- Large dogs: 60 to 140 bpm (beats per minute);
- Medium dogs: 80 to 120;
- Small dogs: 120 to 160;
- Toy dogs: 120 to 180;
- Young puppies: 160 to 200.
You can get an approximate reading at home, without high-tech equipment, by counting how many ‘thuds’ your dog’s heart puts out in 15 seconds. Once you have the heart rate for 15 seconds, you can multiply the number by four to give you the heart rate for 60 seconds or one minute.
There are four main spots to feel or listen to for your pup’s heart rate. The best place to find the thud-thud of a pup’s heartbeat is on the ribs or inside the top of the rear leg with your ear. You might find it easier to feel with your hands than to listen. The other two spots are the underside of your dog’s front paws or below the ankle of their back legs.
Resting Heart Rate for Dogs
Several things can cause your dog’s heart rate to change from a regular resting rate to a fast or slow one. They can range from mild to very severe and even life-threatening, which is why you should get any unusual symptoms checked out by a vet as soon as possible. When we speak about ‘resting’ heart rate, it refers to when your dog is resting or not zooming around.
A slower heart rate than mentioned above is a symptom that shouldn’t be ignored. It’s linked to several potentially life-threatening conditions and can quickly turn into a medical emergency. Monitoring your pet with a Pet Camera will help you pinpoint any symptoms, plus all potential causes.
If your dog’s heart rate drops below 60 beats per minute, they are suffering from what is known as sinus bradycardia. It can come on suddenly with no warning signs whatsoever, and it can be fatal if left undiagnosed and untreated.
This condition is more common in Miniature Schnauzers (females), Pugs, Cocker Spaniels, certain Terrier breeds, and Dachshunds, according to PetMD research. It also tends to afflict younger dogs more than older ones, but it is still common in dogs of all breeds and ages.
Why Does the Heart of a Dog Beat Quickly
If your dog’s heart is beating faster than normal and it’s not due to exercise, they might be overheated and/or dehydrated. Rapid heart rate, also known medically as tachycardia, is diagnosed when a dog’s heart rate exceeds 140 beats per minute in very large dogs and 220 bpm in very small, toy-breed dogs. Other symptoms will need to be taken into consideration, however.
You might also feel a harder heartbeat, which is a sign the organ is working in overdrive to get blood and oxygen around the body.
Other symptoms of dehydration to look out for include:
- Panting louder, more frequently, or longer than usual;
- Faster or heavier breathing;
- Excessive tiredness or nap-taking;
- Gum color changes;
- No interest in toys or play activities;
- Excessive drooling;
- Seizures and/or collapses.
Tachycardia can have serious, life-threatening medical causes, such as atrial fibrillation, which is more common in Irish Wolf Hounds, Dobermans, Great Danes, Boxers, and other large or very large breeds. A heart rate of 200 bpm is not uncommon in serious cases, and fluid can build up in the abdominal cavity and lungs.
Other causes of rapid heart rate in dogs include heart disease, myocarditis, pregnancy, and congenital heart defects, some of which can cause serious medical emergencies. Thankfully, situations like this are covered by Petcube’s Emergency Fund, and you’ll also have access to licensed vets around the clock. You can ask, ask, ask away!
How is the Pulse Taken in a Dog
Veterinarians will use their hands, ears, and/or a stethoscope to check your dog’s pulse. They’ll also check other vitals at the same time to get a complete picture of your pet’s health. This includes body temperature, gum color, breathing rate, and more.
Diagnosing the cause of rapid heart rate in dogs can require several diagnostic tests, such as X-rays, EKGs, angiography, thyroid scans, and ultrasounds.
Do dogs have irregular heartbeats?
Your dog is not meant to have an irregular heartbeat. It’s a sign of another underlying medical cause, such as those listed above. Also known as arrhythmia, irregular, fast, or slow heart rates are a warning sign that should not be ignored.
What does a low heart rate in dogs mean?
Just as with a fast heart rate, a low heart rate in dogs can be caused by several things. It is common for animals to slow down while sleeping, and it can have completely benign causes as well as potentially fatal ones. The sooner you get your pet checked out, the sooner you’ll know which one applies.
As with any new symptom or odd pattern of behavior from your pet, the only way you will know whether a change to your dog’s heart rate is concerning is to make an appointment with your vet. No, you are not overreacting. When the health of your furry family members is at risk, there is no such thing as an overreaction, and that’s why Petcube is on hand to solve all of your pet monitoring and protection needs!