Dog Heart Rate


"Dog heart rate refers to dog heart beats noted per unit of time. It is referred to as “beats per minute” (bpm). A normal adult canine heart rate is 70 -120 beats per minute, while a puppy heart rate is up to 180 bpm. In general it is caused by the rhythmic pumping action of the heart.

It is an indication used by a veterinarian when determining any underlying medical condition. Because a dog's heart has a significant effect on the overall physiology of the body, the canine heart rate not only can indicate a dog heart problems, but is also an indication of other systemic dog health problems.

An irregular canine heart rate is a symptom itself along with other symptoms for various canine heart diseases and canine congestive heart failure. Dog heart rate is detected either by the dog's pulse rate or by auscultating (listening to) heart sounds/murmurs with help of stethoscope. An irregular heart rate in dogs (faster/slower/missing beats) represents a severe heart problem, which should be confirmed with a cardiac examination and tests. Specific and symptomatic treatment along with support and care is essential for regulating abnormal dog heart rate."

Overview of Canine Heart Rate Physiology

In simple words, a heart rate is the number of heart beats noted per unit of time. Clinically, this is expressed as beats per minute, or bpm. A canine heart rate is produced by the pumping action of the heart, which is related to the contraction and relaxation of the heart.

Normally, an adult dog may have a heart rate of 70 – 120 bpm, depending upon the breed, age, physical shape and weight of any dog. Puppies up to one year of age usually have faster heart beats, up to 180 bpm. It is noted that heavy breeds have relatively slower heart beats and they normally have an irregular heart rate when resting or in quiet conditions.

Dog Heart Rate Pathology

A heart rate reflects the overall pumping action of a canine heart, therefore all systemic diseases or generalized conditions may cause an irregularity such as faster or slower heart beats. For example a dog with a fever, respiratory or any other systemic problem may express irregular heart beats, but in cases where there are complex heart diseases and canine congestive heart failure, heart rate is exhibited as irregular and may even miss heart beats.

Almost all canine heart diseases, whether they are congenital (inherited) or acquired, are classically represented by an irregular heart rate; the nature of the irregularity may differ such as being very fast or a slower heart rate. Heart murmurs, an irregular pulse rate and advanced defects noted in laboratory tests are some representations associated with abnormal dog heart rates.

Heart Rate is a Symptom and a Diagnostic Tool for Dog Heart Problems

A canine heart rate is widely considered a symptom in and of itself. It is used by veterinarians for detecting underlying medical problems, both cardiac and other systemic problems. For dog heart diseases, dog heart rate is detected and auscultated deeply and with more care.

Canine heart diseases and congestive heart failure are usually represented by classical signs of lethargy, fainting, irregular breathing, loss of appetite, intolerance and the progressive loss of body conditions. However, the heart rate is purely considered a clinical symptom, which can be detected by examining the pulse rate or by auscultating (listening) to the heart and chest sounds, murmurs and pattern of contraction and relaxation of heart compounds.

Clinically, a heart rate may help in identifying any possible underlying heart disease. Though it is a complicated phenomenon, in general:

  • Slower Canine Heart Rate: Indicates an insufficiency of the dog heart muscles and compounds to pump the blood; cardiac myopathies (muscle weakness) are possible.
  • Faster Canine Heart Rate: Represents that the heart does not have enough time to fill up completely, therefore more oxygen is needed and the extremities of the body do not get enough nutrients and oxygen for normal functioning.
  • Irregular and Missing Heart Rhythms: May represent possible congestion and blockage, along with failure of valves and/or compounds of the heart.

The history of your dog's heart problem, through careful clinical examination (especially detection of the irregular pattern of dog heart rate) and advanced techniques like blood tests, radiographs and an ECG, etc. can help in confirming the underlying issue.

Treatment of Irregular Dog Heart Rate

Besides specific approaches, symptomatic and supportive management is the key to effective and successful treatment of dog heart diseases. There are various principles for the management of cardiovascular problems, most of which are related to the correction of dog heart symptoms, especially the regularity of the dog heart rate, maintenance of energy levels, and support to the immune system and cardiac tissues.

Therefore, specific medication and/or surgery is needed for treatment of underlying canine heart disease, but supportive and symptomatic treatment plans are important at the same time. A dog's heart rate can be regulated and overall cardiac health can be improved with the help of therapeutics prescribed by a veterinarian and natural remedies.

Helpful natural remedies include:

Various drugs used for the management of dog heart symptoms are effective, but they cause adverse effects as well. Many veterinarians believe that natural remedies, supportive supplements, tonics and critical care at home can reduce not only these effects, but also improve life expectancy.

Ask a Question or Share Your Story

Have A Dog Heart Related Question For Our Editors or Story For Our Readers?

Do you have a Dog Heart related question for our Editors or a Helpful Story to Share? Please include information such as age, sex, breed, medical history (past diagnosis), medications your dog is taking, recent changes in behavior (lethargy, appetite), etc. Pictures are also helpful in identifying problems such as fluid accumulation in the abdomen.

We will do our best to get back to you quickly (depends on how many questions we receive each day). If you do require an immediate response we suggest using this online dog veterinary service that is available now.

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Merck Veterinary Manual (Merck & Co)