A healthy dog ? has a heart rate of 60-120 beats per minute. If the dog sleeps, the heart rate can drop to 30 beats per minute. When running, the heart rate may be higher than 120.
How do you measure the heart rate in the dog ?
A large artery runs on the inside of the dog’s hind legs. Here the veterinarian often picks up the “wrist”.
In dogs with a narrow chest, the heart can be felt just behind the left front leg (with the standing dog).
You can also hear the heart in this place. If you listen to the heart with a stethoscope, you normally hear two heart tones: “Brrr Tup”. With an irregular heartbeat or with a strong heart noise it is sometimes difficult to hear both heart sounds.
Dogs with a good physical condition have a slow heartbeat at rest. The heartbeat rises when the dog starts running. Sleeping dogs and dogs under anesthetic can also have a slow heartbeat.
Conditions associated with a too slow heart rate are :
-vagnant arm diseases (vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain)
– Addison’s disease
– Heart disease
– Brain disorders
Animals with too slow a heartbeat due to heart disease have reduced stamina and may faint with exercise. In some cases it is necessary to give the dog a pacemaker so that he can lead a normal life.
Slow and irregular heartbeat
The heartbeat of a resting dog may be irregular :
– Slow on exhalation
– Faster by inhalation
We call this a respiratory arrhythmia. This is a sign of health. It shows that the heart has a good spare capacity.
A dog that plays and runs has a fast heartbeat.
A fast heartbeat can also indicate :
– Fear and stress
– A full bladder
– A heart problem
– Shock (low blood pressure)
Fast and irregular heartbeat
A fast and irregular heartbeat is always deviant. Further research is needed to determine the nature and cause of cardiac arrhythmia and to set up a treatment. Usually the research consists of making an ultrasound of the heart and an ECG.
We treat a fast, irregular heartbeat with drugs such as digoxin, atenolol, lidocaine, flecainide, sotalol, mexiletine or amiodarone. We must continue to check whether the medicines have the right effect. We will adjust if necessary, in consultation with you. Achieving the right effect in one go does not work that fast.
ECG, holter ECG and cardiac monitoring
With an ECG the heart rate can be accurately recorded and examined. The electrical activity of the heart is measured with an ECG in 100 seconds of seconds. The ECG shows whether the heart rhythm is abnormal and where the cause of a cardiac arrhythmia is. An ECG is made in the veterinary practice and registers less than 1 minute.
With a holter ECG the dog gets an ECG device home. The registration takes a maximum of 3 days. It can be precisely measured what happens when the dog gets complaints at home and how often the problems continue. The effect of a medication can also be measured with a holter ECG. We use a holter ECG for our patients at the internal department of the MCD if necessary.
All animals that undergo anesthesia at the MCD are at heart monitoring. We also have heart monitoring equipment in the MCD hospital ward.