Medically Reviewed by Dr. Majid Tanveer, DVM
Knowing what your pup’s normal and abnormal heart rates are can help you identify potential issues before they become serious. But do you know about your dog’s heart rate?
Do you know about the typical ranges of heart rate of your dog? How can you check your dog’s heart rate?
You can feel your dog’s heartbeat on the left side of the chest near the elbow. The average heart rate of small dogs and puppies is 120-160 beats per minute, while larger breeds with over 30 pounds have a pulse of 60-120. Larger breeds usually have slower heart rates than smaller ones. Contact your veterinarian immediately if your pet’s heartbeat exceeds these ranges.
In this article, we’ll discuss a few critical aspects of your dog’s heart rate – the normal range, how to check your pup’s pulse, and how to identify any abnormalities. So, keep reading!
What Is the Heart Rate of a Dog?
A dog’s heart rate is the number of times his heart beats in one minute. It’s measured by counting the number of beats per minute (BPM).
Heart rate is of utmost importance because the heart plays an essential role in sustaining life. This organ pumps oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to every corner of your dog’s body, so when it malfunctions, its effects are felt everywhere when it malfunctions.
What Is the Normal Heart Rate for Dogs?
A dog’s heart rate can vary depending on your pup’s breed, size, and age. Different age groups of dogs have different heart rates.
Below, we will look at the primary separations for the normal range of dog heart rates.
Puppies, like babies, have higher pulse rates compared to adult dogs. During his initial weeks of life, a pup’s heart rate should range from 160-200 beats per minute.
This can even spike up to 220 bpm at the two-week mark before gradually declining to 180 bpm until adulthood.
Small dogs typically have a heart rate between 100-140 beats per minute, faster than larger breeds. While your pup’s size affects his pulse rate if you believe it’s quicker or slower than usual, bringing him in for a checkup with the vet is essential.
Larger adult dogs’ heartbeat falls in the 60-100 beats per minute, much slower than smaller counterparts.
Factors That Affect the Normal Heart Rate of a Dog
Puppies usually have higher heart rates than older dogs because their bodies require more energy to function optimally.
Don’t forget that a range of factors can influence your dog’s heart rate:
- Age of the dog
- Activity level
- Breed of the dog
- Existing health conditions
- Environment’s temperature
- Body position (whether your dog is standing up or lying down)
- Body Weight
- Size of dog
How to Check Your Dog’s Heart Rate
Before measuring your pup’s pulse rate at home, ensure that he hasn’t been engaging in strenuous activity or feeling anxious.
His heartbeat will be more elevated if he has recently exercised or seems on edge – it is imperative to check your dog’s average resting heart rate.
Here’s how to find your dog’s resting heart rate:
1. Familiarise Yourself With Anatomical Landmarks
To get a sense of your pup’s heartbeat, press gently on the left side of his chest around the area where an upraised elbow would make contact.
Your dog must remain peaceful and tranquil for this process to be successful.
2. Place Your Palm on Your Dog’s Chest Wall
To count the beats of your pup’s heart, you can use a stethoscope or place the flat side of your hand upon his chest wall to feel its movement.
If he prefers lying down while having his pulse checked, lay him on his right side and lightly flex back one of the elbows. This is where it touches his chest wall and provides an ideal spot for checking in with him.
3. Count the Number of Beats
To acquire your pup’s heart rate, counting the beats per 15 seconds and multiplying by four is closest to effortless. You can also count for 30 seconds and multiply by two if you desire, though keeping him still that long may not go over well with your dog!
What Causes a Low Heart Rate in Dogs?
Whereas some types of bradycardia in dogs are perfectly normal, two conditions can cause the heart rate to dip so much that medical intervention is necessary:
- Heart Block
- Sick Sinus Syndrome
Third-degree AV block, also known as complete heart block, is a dangerous condition in which all electrical impulses to the atrioventricular node are entirely blocked.
This results in an abnormally slow heartbeat and deprives your dog’s body of essential blood flow to vital organs like your dog’s brain and lungs.
Sick Sinus Syndrome
Sick sinus syndrome (SSS) is an electrical conduction disorder most commonly discovered in elderly canines.
Three breeds regularly diagnosed with this condition include:
- Miniature Schnauzers
- West Highland White Terriers
- Cocker Spaniels.
Signs of Low Heart Rate in Dogs
If your dog is experiencing a low heart rate, he most likely will also present with other symptoms, such as:
Weakness: If your pup is experiencing a low heart rate, he may appear lethargic and weak, with a minimal desire to partake in an activity or physical movement.
Panting: In some cases, episodes of bradycardia can be accompanied by difficult breathing and panting due to a lack of oxygen reaching the lungs and heart.
Fainting: Low blood pressure due to a slow heartbeat can occasion your pup to collapse or faint as his brain is not receiving enough oxygen.
Unresponsiveness: If you try to call out your pup’s name, but he doesn’t seem responsive, this could indicate his heart rate is declined.
Collapse: If your pup has a severe episode of bradycardia, he may suffer from sudden collapse as his blood pressure drops too quickly or cardiac output is insufficient to sustain the body’s needs.
What Causes High Heart Rates in Dogs?
A rapid pulse could be a manifestation of anxiety, or it may signal other issues such as:
- Sinus tachycardia
- Blood loss
Sinus tachycardia (ST) is a sinus rhythm that occurs at an abnormally high rate. Here are the high heart rate values for different-sized dogs:
|Dog Size||Heart Rate|
|Standard Size Dog||>160 Bpm|
|Giant Dog breeds||>140Bpm|
It is a severe health concern for dogs because it can lead to high heart rates and even death. Heatstroke occurs when a dog’s body temperature rises above average due to the following:
- Prolonged exposure to hot temperatures
- Exercising in the heat
- Being left in an enclosed car on a hot day
Signs of High Heart Rate in Dogs
If your pup is experiencing a high heart rate, he may also show other signs, such as:
Heavy panting: Rapid breathing and panting are common signs of tachycardia in dogs, as your pup’s body is attempting to cool down.
Excessive drooling: If your dog has an unusually high heart rate, his mouth may become very wet due to excessive drooling.
Restlessness: Dogs with a rapid heartbeat may appear restless and unable to settle down as their bodies are trying to cope with the increased cardiac demand.
Increased thirst: Tachycardia can make your pup thirstier than usual, as he needs to drink more water due to his high body temperature.
Reddened gums: If your pup’s gums appear pale or bluish, this could indicate a high heart rate.
Tips to Prevent Heart Rate Fluctuations in Your Dog
Here are a few tips to help you maintain your pup’s average heart rate:
- It is essential to schedule regular veterinary appointments for your dog so that any irregularities in his heartbeat can be detected early on.
- Keeping your dog at an ideal body weight will reduce the strain on his cardiovascular system and help support a steady heart rate.
- Engage your dog in regular physical activities to help him stay active. This will also allow his body to increase its oxygen intake, which can improve cardiovascular health.
- Feeding your dog a balanced and nutritious diet is essential for proper cardiac functioning.
- Keep your dog’s environment as stress-free as possible by giving him plenty of opportunities to rest and relax.
- Ensure your dog has access to a cool area during hot days, as heatstroke can cause an irregular heartbeat.
- Caffeine can increase heart rate, so avoid giving your dog caffeine-containing products such as coffee and chocolate.
- Keep your pup’s sodium intake at a minimum, as excessive salt will cause fluid retention and an elevated heart rate.
- Keep your pup hydrated by providing plenty of fresh, clean water.
- Pay attention to changes in your pup’s behavior, as this could indicate a cardiac issue.
As a veterinarian, I recommend you keep an eye on your dog’s heart rate and follow the tips above to maintain a healthy heart. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice abnormalities in your pup’s heart rate or if they seem distressed.
Pet Care Tip: Check out this video on how to safely check a dog’s heart rate. It will show you the proper way to check his heart rate without putting yourself or your dog in danger.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Ok if My Dog’s Heart Is Beating Fast?
Any rapid heart rate in your pup signifies his body is becoming too hot. Evaluate his pulse, and if you feel it’s too fast or heavy-handed, don’t wait – get him to the vet straight away!
What Are Common Heart Diseases in Dogs?
Heart conditions in canines are widespread and include degenerative mitral valve disease, dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), pericardial disease, and a mosquito-borne infection called heartworm.
How Can I Calm My Dog’s Heart Rate?
Calming chamomile, pet-friendly CBD oils, and melatonin can all help to reduce your dog’s heart rate.
What Are Abnormal Heart Sounds in Dogs?
Abnormal heart sounds can be classified into several groups, such as murmurs, anomalous separation of heart noises, clicks, gallops (audible S3 or S4), audible arrhythmias, friction rubs, and muffled heart sounds.