Small Dog Resting Heart Rate

Typical Small Dog Resting Heart Rate

The normal resting heart rate range for small dog breeds is generally between 80 to 160 beats per minute according to veterinary experts ( This can vary depending on the specific breed and size of the dog. Small dogs usually have faster resting heart rates compared to medium or large breeds.

For example, a Chihuahua’s average resting rate may fall between 130 to 150 bpm while a larger small breed like a Beagle may have a resting rate between 80 to 120 bpm. Toy breeds tend to be at the higher end of the range while small terriers and hounds are often at the lower end.

It’s important to know your individual dog’s normal resting heart rate when they are relaxed and at rest. Tracking this baseline will help you identify any concerning changes that could signal potential health issues.

Why Resting Heart Rate Matters

A dog’s resting heart rate serves as an important indicator of their overall health and fitness level. When a dog is at rest, their heart rate reflects the minimum amount of effort needed to circulate blood and oxygen throughout the body. Dogs with lower resting heart rates are generally in better cardiovascular shape.

dog getting heartbeat checked with a stethoscope

A normal resting rate shows the heart can pump efficiently while the body is at rest. An abnormally high or low resting heart rate may signify an underlying medical issue that warrants further veterinary investigation. For example, persistently elevated rates can stem from heart disease, anemia, infections, stress, and more.

Tracking resting heart rate over time provides insight into a dog’s wellbeing. A downward trend may reflect improving fitness. But a sudden increase of more than 10-15% above normal could signal illness or declining health. By monitoring resting heart rate, owners can identify changes early and seek timely veterinary care.

Overall, a dog’s resting heart rate serves as a simple yet telling snapshot of current cardiovascular function and fitness. Paying attention to this vital sign helps owners keep tabs on their pet’s health.


How To Measure Resting Heart Rate

There are a few different ways to measure your dog’s resting heart rate at home:

  • Use a stethoscope placed below the elbow on the inside of the front leg to listen for the heartbeat. Count the beats for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to get beats per minute.
  • Use a pulse oximeter placed on the tongue, ear, or paw to get a digital readout of heart rate.
  • Check the pulse by gently placing two fingers on the inside of the hind leg where it joins the abdomen. Count beats for 15 seconds and multiply by 4.

To get an accurate resting heart rate, take the measurement when your dog is relaxed and calm, not during or just after exercise. Allow them to rest in a comfortable position for 10 minutes before checking. It’s best to take 3-5 consistent readings and average them. Record the heart rate each time to monitor for any changes.

According to, normal resting heart rate for a small dog is 100-160 beats per minute. Lower rates around 60-100 bpm may indicate an athletic heart, while higher rates over 160 bpm could signify potential health issues if persistent.

Factors That Affect Resting Rate

A dog’s resting heart rate can vary based on several factors including breed, size, age, fitness level, and temperature. Smaller dogs tend to have faster resting heart rates than larger breeds. For example, a Chihuahua’s normal resting rate may be between 90-140 beats per minute, while a Great Dane’s is 60-100 bpm. Puppies also tend to have slightly faster heart rates than adult dogs.

A dog’s fitness level impacts their resting rate too. Athletic dogs who get regular exercise often have slower heart rates because their cardiovascular system is more efficient. Overweight or obese dogs tend to have faster resting rates. Temperature also affects heart rate. When hot, a dog’s heart will beat faster to circulate blood to the skin to dissipate heat. Being too cold causes blood to be shunted inward, which can make the heart rate temporarily dip.

It’s important to know what normal resting heart rate range is for your specific dog based on their breed, size, age and health status. Track trends over time and be aware of any unexplained changes in your dog’s resting heart rate, as it could signify an underlying medical issue.

When To Be Concerned

As a dog owner, it’s important to monitor your dog’s resting heart rate and watch for any significant changes. According to the American Kennel Club, a dog’s normal resting heart rate ranges between 60 to 140 beats per minute depending on the dog’s size. Small dogs tend to have faster resting heart rates, usually between 90 to 140 bpm.

worried dog owner with sick dog

You should consult your veterinarian if your dog’s resting heart rate falls outside the normal range for their size for a prolonged period of time. A resting heart rate consistently under 60 bpm or over 140 bpm in a small dog could signify an underlying health issue.

Specifically, an abnormally low heart rate is called bradycardia and may be caused by disorders of the sinoatrial node which is responsible for initiating heart beats. Bradycardia can also result from electrolyte imbalances. On the other hand, an abnormally high heart rate is called tachycardia and may be caused by pain, stress, fever, heart disease, anemia, shock, or other disorders [1].

If your dog’s resting heart rate is outside the normal limits, you should monitor them closely for other signs of illness and notify your veterinarian, especially if the abnormal rate persists. With prompt veterinary care, many underlying causes can be successfully treated.

Health Conditions Tied To Abnormal Rates

A dog’s resting heart rate can indicate underlying health conditions. Abnormally high or low rates often signify issues that warrant veterinary attention.

Some heart conditions like dilated cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure can lead to slower heart rates under 50 bpm according to PetMD. These diseases affect the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively. Treatment involves medications like ACE inhibitors and diuretics as well as dietary changes.

Anemia, which is a lack of healthy red blood cells, may also cause slower heart rates as the body struggles to transport oxygen efficiently according to the Dixie Animal Hospital. Anemia has various causes including blood cell destruction, blood loss, and cancers that infiltrate the bone marrow. It’s diagnosed through blood tests and treated through supplements, diet, and medication.

Hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid gland, can manifest in lethargy and slower resting heart rates per the Dixie Animal Hospital. It’s a common issue in older dogs. Symptoms are managed through lifelong thyroid hormone supplementation.

Improving Cardiovascular Health

Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and weight management are key to improving your dog’s cardiovascular health. According to the American Heart Association, dogs who exercise regularly have stronger hearts and improved circulation compared to sedentary dogs [1]. Walking your dog daily, playing fetch, or engaging in more vigorous activities like hiking and swimming can significantly benefit their heart. Make exercise fun and interactive when possible.

dog exercising - running on beach

Your dog’s diet also plays an important role in cardiovascular health. Choose a high-quality commercial dog food formulated for your dog’s life stage and activity level. Supplement with fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy oils like salmon or coconut oil. Avoid excessive sodium and unhealthy fats. Follow your vet’s dietary recommendations, especially if your dog has a heart condition. They may advise prescription dog food or supplements with ingredients like EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids to support heart health [2].

Lastly, maintaining a healthy weight helps reduce strain on the heart. Consult your vet to determine an optimal weight range for your dog’s breed and size. Closely monitor their food portions, treats, and activity levels to prevent obesity.

Monitoring Trends Over Time

It’s important for pet owners to routinely check and record their small dog’s resting heart rate. This allows you to monitor trends over time and note any significant changes (Healthy Hearts for Dogs). Keeping diligent records provides vital information you can share with your veterinarian.

Aim to measure your dog’s resting heart rate about once a week when they are relaxed and at rest. Track each reading on a spreadsheet or use an app like Cardalis to record a graph of trends (Cardalis). Look for any major increases or decreases week to week. A gradual change of more than 15-20 beats per minute over a few weeks could signal an underlying issue.

Having these records on hand will help your vet quickly assess if your dog’s heart rate is cause for concern. Routine monitoring at home allows you to detect potential problems early and get your dog the care they need.

Signs of Cardiac Issues

Some common symptoms that may indicate heart problems in dogs include:

dog exhibiting symptoms like coughing

Coughing – Dogs with heart disease may develop a cough, especially during periods of activity or when lying down. The cough is often dry and hacking. Coughing forces air out of the lungs which allows fresh air to expand the collapsed airways. Coughing can put extra strain on a diseased heart.[1]

Fatigue – As heart disease progresses, the heart struggles to pump blood efficiently. This results in poor oxygen circulation which causes overall weakness and exercise intolerance. Affected dogs may seem very tired, lethargic, or reluctant to be active.[2]

Breathing Issues – Fluid may build up in or around the lungs due to congestive heart failure. This causes labored breathing, shortness of breath, and even wheezing. Rapid shallow breathing is common as the lungs struggle to oxygenate the blood.[3]




When To See A Veterinarian

If your dog’s resting heart rate deviates from the normal range persistently or if you notice other concerning symptoms, it’s important to seek veterinary care. An occasional, temporary abnormal heart rate may not be cause for alarm. But if the irregular heartbeat continues for an extended period, it could signify an underlying health issue.

According to PetMD, you should contact your vet if your dog’s resting heart rate is consistently over 160 beats per minute or under 60 beats per minute. These abnormal rates may indicate a heart arrhythmia or other cardiovascular condition requiring treatment.

The Heartbeat Arrhythmia article from Animal House Veterinary Hospital advises bringing your dog in if you observe symptoms like lack of appetite, lethargy, loss of consciousness, or sudden collapse. These signs paired with an irregular heartbeat could signal a serious medical problem needing prompt veterinary attention.

WagWalking recommends contacting your vet immediately if your dog’s heart is beating irregularly along with concerning symptoms like weakness, coughing, trouble breathing, or swelling. Your vet can run tests to determine if your dog has an underlying heart condition and recommend appropriate treatment.

Scroll to Top