Not only are your dog’s vitals important when conducting first aid or dealing with an emergency situation, but they are also a great way to understand his overall health and well-being. However, how are you supposed to understand when to be concerned if you don’t know what is considered a normal dog heart rate?
Whether you’re a first-time dog owner or an experienced owner looking to learn more about how to track and monitor your dog’s health, this article is for you! We are going to look at the different factors that can impact a dog’s heart rate, what to consider ‘normal’ in terms of your dog’s heart rate, and when you should contact your veterinarian.
Is My Dog’s Heart Rate Normal?
The question about whether your dog’s heart rate is normal goes deeper than a single number or benchmark. This is due to the fact that the normal healthy heart rate for a dog depends on the dog’s size, breed, and life stage.
This is why it is important to know and understand your dog’s baseline heart rate. A normal heart rate for one dog could be elevated for another. The only way to know is to track and determine what’s normal for your dog as an individual. By regularly checking the heart rate of your dog, you can discover the normal dog heart rate at rest for your pup specifically. This will help you to better recognize if something is ‘off’ or out of the norm.
A good starting guideline for determining a healthy heart rate can be found by taking your dog’s size into consideration.
Puppies and Small Dogs: 100 to 140 beats per minute
Medium Dogs: 80 to 120 beats per minute
Large Dogs: 60 to 100 beats per minute
As we discussed, however, these numbers may not be accurate for every dog. If your dog’s normal resting heart rate tracks as lower than their weight limit, for example, a heart rate that falls within the stated ‘normal’ limits could be high. Every dog is different!
What Can Affect a Dog’s Heart Rate?
There are many different factors that can impact a dog’s heat rate, including both normal daily activities as well as potential health concerns. The first factor to understand is that, unlike humans, a dog’s heart rate will normally slow down and speed up with each breath that they take. This is not a sign that something is off or a cause for concern, so there is no need to rush to call your veterinarian. It’s just a difference in the way that their body functions. Focus your attention on the average dog heart rate over the course of a minute, which will account for these slight changes.
When you take the time to measure your dog’s heart rate, compare it to the resting heart rate that you have determined through regular logging as discussed in the Pet Health 5. If you notice that your pup’s heart rate is trending up or down from the previously determined dog heat rate at rest, there are several factors that may be responsible for this change.
An elevated heart rate may simply be the result of a high level of activity, such as a heavy play session or a long walk. It can also be caused by a psychological reason, such as high stress levels, over excitement, or anxiety. However, if you notice a faster than normal dog heart rate, it could also be a sign of medical conditions like blood loss, heatstroke, fever, or dehydration.
A slower heart rate may simply come from conditioning. The more athletic a dog is, the stronger the heart which can cause their heart to beat slower simply because that’s all that’s required for their body to function optimally. This is another reason why it’s important to find out the normal dog heart rate specifically for your dog.
Your dog’s heart rate may be slower when they first wake up from a deep sleep, picking back up as they wake up and get moving. It can also be a sign of pericarditis (inflammation around the heart), hypothermia, hypothyroidism, hypocalcemia (dangerously low levels of calcium), or a magnesium deficiency. It may also be an indicator that your dog’s body is going into shock.
When Should My Dog’s Heart Rate Worry Me?
The best way to know whether your dog’s heart rate should be a cause for concern is to make sure that you have a firm understanding of what is considered a normal dog heart rate for your pup specifically. The best way to do this is to check his heart rate regularly, avoiding times when you know that it will be altered like after strenuous exercise or right after waking up. Log your findings and watch for patterns.
If you notice that your dog’s heart rate has climbed above or dropped below the normal range that you have been experiencing, this should be taken seriously. While a change in heart rate could be nothing major, it could also be a sign of serious health complications.
Contact your veterinarian ASAP if you notice any abnormal heart rate values.
Your veterinarian will be able to direct you as to the best next steps to take to prioritize your dog’s health and address any medical problems appropriately. This will likely involve an appointment where they can assess the reason for the change. Bringing your heart rate log will offer insight into any trends that may have occurred over time.
Your dog’s heart is one of the most important organs in the body. For this reason, a heart-related problem can quickly impact every other system in the body. You’re taking the first step today by learning about the basics of a normal dog heart rate and what could cause it to change. Now it’s time to take this important knowledge and apply it to your own pup.
Are you familiar with what a normal heart rate is for YOUR dog?
If so, we invite you to share your findings in the comments with your dog’s breed to help show new dog owners how much this can fluctuate from dog to dog!
Tracking your dog’s heart rate is one of the important steps that we encourage in Pet Health 5. This is a super easy way to prioritize your dog’s health. On the 5th of each month, we will send you a checklist of what to do to check your dog’s health stats and how to do it. We will also provide you with a convenient log to keep all this information in one place.
Understanding your dog’s health and recognizing when something is ‘off’ is an important factor in helping your dog to live a long, happy life. You can start today by checking your dog’s heart rate and signing up for Pet Health 5.
About the Author: Britt Kascjak is a proud pet mom, sharing her heart (and her home) with her ‘pack’ which includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx. She has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. In her free time, she enjoys traveling around the country camping, hiking, and canoeing with her pets.