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How to Check a Dog’s Pulse: A Comprehensive Guide

Last Updated on April 24, 2023 by Dogs Vets

How to Check a Dog’s Pulse: A Comprehensive Guide


It is essential to monitor your dog’s health and well-being, and knowing how to check their pulse can be a critical step in identifying any potential issues early on.

In this article, we aim to provide you with an in-depth understanding of how to check a dog’s pulse.

By the end of this article, you’ll be well-equipped with the knowledge and skills to check your dog’s pulse accurately and confidently.


1. Understanding a Dog’s Heart Rate

A dog’s heart rate is a crucial indicator of their overall health. It can be influenced by various factors, including age, size, breed, and fitness level.

Typically, a dog’s resting heart rate falls within the range of 60 to 160 beats per minute (bpm), with larger breeds having slower heart rates than smaller breeds.


2. What is a Dangerously High Heart Rate for Dogs?

A dangerously high heart rate for dogs is typically considered to be any heart rate above 180 bpm. This elevated heart rate could be a sign of various health issues, such as heatstroke, dehydration, anemia, heart disease, or anxiety.

If you suspect that your dog’s heart rate is dangerously high, it is crucial to consult a veterinarian immediately.


3. Normal Dog Respiratory Rate

A dog’s respiratory rate refers to the number of breaths they take per minute.

The normal dog respiratory rate is generally between 15 and 30 breaths per minute at rest.

It is essential to monitor your dog’s respiratory rate alongside their heart rate, as changes in either of these vital signs can indicate a health issue.


4. Dog Rapid Heartbeat While Resting

A dog’s rapid heartbeat while resting could be a sign of an underlying health issue, such as heart disease, anemia, or infection.

If you notice that your dog’s heart rate is consistently higher than the normal range, even when they are resting, it is essential to consult a veterinarian to determine the cause and initiate the appropriate treatment.


5. Dogs Heart Rate Slow When Sleeping

It is normal for a dog’s heart rate to slow down when sleeping. This decrease in heart rate occurs as their body enters a state of relaxation and conserves energy.

However, if you notice that your dog’s heart rate is significantly slower than the normal range, even when they are awake, it may be a cause for concern. In such cases, consult your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.


6. How to Check a Dog’s Heart Rate with a Stethoscope

Using a stethoscope is an effective and accurate method for checking your dog’s heart rate. Follow these steps to check your dog’s heart rate with a stethoscope:

  1. Prepare your dog: Ensure your dog is calm and relaxed before attempting to check their heart rate. It may be helpful to have someone assist you in holding your dog still during this process.
  2. Position the stethoscope: Place the diaphragm (the larger, flat side) of the stethoscope against your dog’s chest, just behind their front leg. You may need to move the stethoscope around slightly to find the optimal spot where you can hear the heartbeat clearly.
  3. Listen and count: Once you have located the heartbeat, count the number of beats you hear within a 15-second time frame. Multiply this number by four to calculate your dog’s heart rate in beats per minute (bpm).


7. Alternative Methods for Checking a Dog’s Pulse

If you do not have access to a stethoscope, you can still check your dog’s pulse using alternative methods.

Here are two other ways to assess your dog’s heart rate:

  1. Femoral artery: Locate the femoral artery by gently pressing your fingers on the inside of your dog’s hind leg, just below the point where the leg meets the body. You should be able to feel a pulse. Count the number of beats within a 15-second time frame and multiply by four to calculate the bpm.
  2. Digital pulse monitor: A digital pulse monitor designed for dogs can provide an accurate reading of your dog’s heart rate. Simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions to obtain the measurement.


8. When to Consult a Veterinarian


It is essential to consult a veterinarian if you notice any of the following in your dog:

  • A consistently elevated heart rate, even when at rest
  • A significantly slower heart rate than the normal range
  • Irregular or abnormal heart rhythms
  • Signs of distress or discomfort, such as labored breathing, coughing, or lethargy

These could be indications of an underlying health issue that requires professional attention.


9. Monitoring Your Dog’s Overall Health

In addition to regularly checking your dog’s pulse, it is crucial to monitor their overall health by:

  • Scheduling regular check-ups with a veterinarian
  • Providing a balanced diet and fresh water
  • Ensuring your dog receives adequate exercise
  • Maintaining your dog’s dental hygiene
  • Observing your dog for any changes in behavior or appearance

By closely monitoring your dog’s health, you can identify potential issues early on and take the necessary steps to address them.


10. Conclusion

Knowing how to check your dog’s pulse is an essential skill for any responsible pet owner. By regularly monitoring your dog’s heart rate, respiratory rate, and overall health, you can ensure that they remain happy and healthy.

Always consult a veterinarian if you have concerns about your dog’s heart rate or any other aspect of their well-being.






Q: How can I tell if my dog’s heart rate is too fast or too slow?

A: A normal resting heart rate for dogs ranges from 60 to 160 bpm. If your dog’s heart rate is consistently above or below this range, consult a veterinarian to determine the cause.


Q: Can I use a human stethoscope to check my dog’s pulse?

A: Yes, you can use a human stethoscope to check your dog’s pulse. Just ensure that you place the diaphragm on the appropriate location on your dog’s chest to hear the heartbeat clearly.


Q: How often should I check my dog’s heart rate?

A: It is a good idea to check your dog’s heart rate periodically, especially if they have a history of heart issues or are at risk for developing heart problems. Otherwise, checking once a month or whenever you notice any unusual behavior or symptoms should be sufficient.


Q: Can stress or excitement cause a temporary increase in my dog’s heart rate?

A: Yes, stress, excitement, and physical activity can all cause a temporary increase in your dog’s heart rate. Ensure that your dog is calm and relaxed before checking their pulse to obtain an accurate measurement.


Q: Can I check my dog’s pulse without a stethoscope?

A: Yes, you can check your dog’s pulse by locating the femoral artery on the inside of their hind leg or by using a digital pulse monitor designed for dogs.


Q: What other vital signs should I monitor in my dog?

A: In addition to your dog’s heart rate, it is essential to monitor their respiratory rate, body temperature, and overall behavior and appearance for any signs of distress or illness.


Q: Can medications affect my dog’s heart rate?

A: Some medications can affect your dog’s heart rate, either by increasing or decreasing it. If your dog is on medication and you notice a significant change in their heart rate, consult your veterinarian for advice.




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