How to Check a Dog’s Heart Rate in 6 Easy Steps

The heart rate is equally important in humans and animals. It’s an important indicator of whether your dog is doing well. This means that you too should be able to check your dog’s pulse. In today’s article, we show you how to check a dog’s heart rate at home.

how to check a dog's heart rate

Measure Your Dog’s Pulse

The earlier you get a feel for your dog’s pulse, the better. The heart rate shows how often the heart beats per minute. The heartbeat is necessary for blood to be pumped around the body. The pulse refers to the blood wave that flows through the heartbeat to the vessel walls. So it can theoretically be felt on various parts of the body.

Your pet is sure to have a heartbeat. But unlike humans, the dog’s pulse cannot be felt in many places. A hairless area and thin skin are prerequisites for palpation. The thighs meet the criteria. The artery is located on the inside of the back legs. You can feel the pounding of the heartbeat on him.

The dog’s pulse can be measured at the crease on the inner thigh. With a little practice, you will find the artery circuit with more ease. For the first check, you shouldn’t wait for an emergency to happen. Instead, practice measuring right away. Otherwise, it may take too long to find it.

How to Check a Dog’s Heart Rate

  1. Cover the dog’s thigh with your hand.
  2. Fix your hand position around the thigh with your thumb.
  3. Press on the artery with two fingers on the inside of the thigh.
  4. Now, count the pounding of the heartbeat in 15 seconds.
  5. The number of heartbeats times 4 gives the pulse per minute.
  6. To be on the safe side, you can repeat the process.

Resting Heart Rate

The resting heart rate is not the same for every four-legged friend. The heartbeat in the dog is different in the animals. Namely, it depends on the size, breed, and age. If you are unsure, you can get information from the vet. If dog owners know what the resting heart rate is, deviations can easily be determined. The following guidelines apply to the resting heart rate:

  • Resting heart rate for small dogs: 100 to 120 heartbeats per minute.
  • Resting heart rate for large dogs: 80 to 100 heartbeats per minute.
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Irregular Heartbeat in Dogs

An irregular heartbeat is not uncommon for dogs and usually, there is nothing to worry about. If you are still unsure, you can go to the vet. Sometimes the situation is just weird. And since it is about the dog’s health, as the owner you can play it safe. In general, however, you don’t need to be afraid for your pet.

Heart Disease: Symptoms of Problems

Dogs usually do not suffer from hardening of the arteries. Heart attacks are very rare. The dog’s life is different from that of humans. His stress cannot harm his heart. The diet of our four-legged friends is also different. In itself, they can be called healthier.

Still, many pets suffer from heart disease. These affect the heartbeat and pulse. The reason is already in their genetics. But that doesn’t mean that a heart defect has to be present from birth. In many dogs, it only occurs in the course of life.

Also, not every breed is equally affected by problems. Some dog breeds are considered to be healthier. Others are known to have certain heart diseases. If your furry friend belongs to a more endangered dog breed (which you can find some of them in our post on dog breeds start with V), it is generally advisable to check the heartbeat once. A quick question to the vet makes sense.

In addition to genetics, there can be other causes of illness. Age plays an important role. But in addition to this, you can also take care of your four-legged friend yourself. For example, you need to know that eating raw meat carries some risk. B.A.R.F. can lead to a taurine deficiency in some dogs. The same problem occurs in dogs with sensitive gastrointestinal systems. Taurine is an amino acid. Its breakdown product is important for heart metabolism. In addition, harmful environmental influences and too little exercise are bad for the heart.

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Recognizing Dog Heart Problems

But how are heart problems recognized in dogs? Often many heart diseases are discovered by accident. They are often noticed during health checks or vaccination appointments. The vet routinely checks the heartbeat.

Vet listening to a dog’s heart with a stethoscope

But you can also measure your dog’s pulse at home. If something strikes you as unusual, it is best to report it to a vet you trust. Other signs suggest a health problem. The following symptoms can occur with advanced heart defects:

  1. Your dog has noticeably less urge to move and lies a lot in the basket or on the blanket.
  2. After just a few minutes of walking, your pet will want to go home straight away.
  3. Frequent coughing and panting are typical symptoms.
  4. Dogs can suffer from edema. You should be careful about water retention in their legs, stomach, and lungs.
  5. If the tongue and mucous membranes are discolored blue, this indicates a lack of oxygen.

If the dog suffers from these problems, death can come quickly. The heartbeat just stops. This is mostly due to a lack of oxygen in the brain. It is important to have a careful eye.

However, it often turns out in practice that symptoms are recognized, but are not life-threatening. Therefore, I ask you as a dog owner not to panic immediately if you notice something strange. If you want to react, it is best not to ask the internet. A lot is misinterpreted here.

It is better to go to your vet. He can help you and your dog with examinations and simple heartbeat and pulse measurements. This enables arrhythmias and any problems to be discovered quickly and reliably.

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Important: This article is for informational purposes only. We always recommend that you go to a trusted vet with your pet first.