You are the first line of defense when it comes to keeping your dog healthy. The most important part of this job is to observe your pet on a regular basis. This will allow you to quickly spot any changes in the dog's mood or behavior, which could be signs of an underlying health condition. Knowing how to check a dog's heart rate and other vital signs is part of this task.
When you're first learning how to check your dog's heart rate, it's best to check it at many different times. Take his heart rate while after you return home from a walk, check it when he first wakes up in the morning and check it during periods of rest throughout the day. This will let you know the average rate of his heart when he's active and while resting.
For health purposes, it's best to take the heart rate when you're dog is relaxing. You can use a stethoscope or simply use your hand. The average dog's heart beat is strong enough to feel with your hand.
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Now, let's talk about the average heart rate of a dog, when the rate is too high or too low and how to find out what your dog's heart rate is.
How To Check A Dog's Heart Rate At Home
A Simple Step-by-Step Guide
What is “normal” for a dog's heart rate?
When it comes to general dog health, there's only one thing we can be sure of – every dog is different. Trust me, I know how frustrating it is to hear that from your veterinarian.
The most wonderful thing about dogs is the wide variety of the species, but that can also be a drawback when it comes to figuring out what is “normal” for their overall health.
Dogs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and their hearts do too. That means that the average heart rate for a canine varies quite a bit. As I mentioned above, it's important that you become familiar with your own specific dog's average heart rate so you know what's a fast or slow rate for this specific dog's heart.
Remember one thing:
If your dog's heart rate is less than 60 beats per minute or greater than 140 beats per minute, contact your veterinarian immediately!
On average, smaller breeds and puppies have faster heart rates than larger breeds. Dogs that are overweight also have slower heartbeats than pets that are in shape.
A “normal” canine heart rate is about 60-140 beats per minute. According to VetStreet.com, large breeds usually average 60-100 beats per minute, while smaller dogs are in the 100-140 beats range.
How to check a dog's heart rate yourself at home
As I explain in the video guide above, I usually just use my hand to check our dogs' heart rates. If you happen to have a stethoscope on hand, you can definitely use one, but you don't need to go out and buy one.
It's easiest to check your dog's heart rate while he's lying on his side.
Find your dog's pulse.
First, place your hand under your dog's left front paw where it meets the body – his ‘armpit,' if you will. You should be able to easily feel your dog's heart beating.
If not, try moving your hand around that area slowly feeling for the heartbeat.
Do the math.
Second, once you find the heartbeat, you'll need a watch or clock with a seconds hand or a stopwatch. Count the number of times the heart beats in a 15 second time period.
Now, multiply that number by 4 and you will be able to find the number of time your dog's heart beats per minute.
For example, in my video above I counted 21 beats in 15 seconds: 21 x 4 equals 84.
See the photo on the right of me feeling for my dog Chloe's heart rate.
Chloe's heart rate was 84 beats per minute here, which is right in the middle of the normal range.
Again, if your dog's heart rate is more than 140 beats per minute or less than 60 beats per minute, contact your vet immediately.
Try finding the pulse by locating femoral artery
If you have trouble finding your dog's heart rate by placing your hand on his chest, you can try to find his femoral artery. As I show you in my video, this artery can be found on your dog's inner thigh close to where the leg dog's meets the body.
I find it much more difficult to check a dog's heart rate this way, but you may find it to be a bit easier. It will likely depend on your specific dog.
To find your dog's pulse once you've located the femoral artery, simply place two fingers on the artery and count how many times it pulses in a 15 second span of time. Multiple that number by 4 and you've got your dog's heart rate per minute – same as above.