Our dog’s pulse is a measure of the heart rate and an important indicator for assessing health.
The DOGTV veterinary advisor and state-certified veterinarian Dr. Courtney Campbell says a typical dog’s heart rate will be between 60 and 160. There is a wide variety of options, and there are several reasons for this.
“Definitely think about age, height, fear, temperament,” says Dr. Campbell. “A Great Dane will have a lower heart rate than a Chihuahua … and there are a lot of studies that look at the heart rates of dogs that say their heart rate is highest when they are younger than a year.”
You can check your dog’s pulse at home, and Dr. Campbell recommends him.
“It’s important to know normals and to find out what your dog’s pulse is before it becomes a problem,” he says.
Just as our pulse rate is an indicator of our own health, a dog’s pulse provides clues as to how well it is. Photo: monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images
How to check your dog’s pulse
Unlike blood pressure and respiratory health, it’s actually pretty easy to get your dog’s pulse checked at home. You just have to get used to it.
First, timing is critical.
“If your dog is playful and running, this is not an ideal time to check your dog’s pulse,” says Dr. Campbell. “Let’s say when you are at home, watch TV and chill on the couch with your dog. This is a great time. “
To do this, Campbell suggests standing behind your pet and running your fingers across the floor area until it reaches the abdominal wall. Then move your fingertips back and forth.
“At some point you will feel something hit your finger,” he says. “Count the number of impulses in 15 seconds. Multiply by four. This is yours [dog’s] Pulse.”
Make sure to measure the pulse on both sides.
“If there’s a mismatch between the two pulses, that’s something you want to know about,” says Dr. Campbell. “An inequality between the two could be a problem with blood clots [or] a heart problem. “
What does it mean when a dog’s pulse is out of range?
If you’ve established normals and are feeling your dog’s pulse and finding it out of range, there could be several reasons.
“If you cannot get a pulse or the pulse quality is poor, it may mean your dog has a blood clot in his leg. An underactive thyroid is too obese for you to feel the pulse,” says Dr. Campbell. “You could be cold.”
If the heart rate is higher than normal, it could be a good thing. Perhaps your dog is getting some exercise, or is nervous or excited. It could also be a sign of something more troubling.
“You could have heart disease or be anemic,” says Dr. Campbell.
What to do if your dog’s pulse is out of range
If you get a reading outside of the acceptable range for your dog’s pulse, don’t panic. First, think about the situation. Has Fido just come in from a walk? Did he just hunt a squirrel? Is it really cold in the house? If so, you probably don’t need to worry (but you may have to turn up the heat).
However, it’s a good idea to check again in about 30 minutes.
“Identifying trends is vital as it could be back to normal in 30 minutes. However, if the trend is higher or lower, you know there is a bigger problem,” says Dr. Campbell.
If your dog’s pulse is too high or too low over the course of a day or even an hour, call the vet for a checkup. They can assess whether there is a major problem and provide the necessary treatment.