How to Check a Dog’s Pulse

Hi humans! Knowing a few basics about health and first aid is super important. I see a lot of you learning about how to check for other human’s pulse, but what about us?

It’s just as important to know how to check our pulse if you have a dog, don’t you think? We can’t check our own pulse and don’t know how to check up on ourselves for health-related issues, so it’s your job to do it for us!

So, how can you check a dog’s pulse? Well I’ll tell you exactly how!
With humans, you check by placing your fingers on the inside of their wrist, or by the side of their neck.

But it’s slightly different for us dogs.

It’s always easier to check a dog’s pulse if we’re standing up, so start there! We can be a bit fidgety, or at least I can be (I just have so much energy!), so it might be a good idea to keep us calm and still by using a positive incentive.

For example, my human likes to tell me to stand still, and then gives me a treat that I can focus on. If we move around you won’t be able to feel our pulse properly or take note of it!

Once we’re calm and standing still, you can look for our pulse. The easiest place to find it is on the inside of our rear leg, more or less at mid-thigh height. That’s where our femoral artery is, and it’s one of the easiest to feel through our skin and fur!

Once you’ve found it, press your finger to it so you can feel out heartbeat, and then count the beats during 15 seconds. Then you multiply the result by four, and that’s our heartbeat per minute!

Small dogs and puppies will usually have a heart rate of in between 120 and 160 beats per minute. Bigger dogs, on the other hand, will usually have a heart rate of between 60 and 120. I’m a pretty medium-sized dog, and my human told me that my heart rate is usually at 110 beats per minute! It’s so much fun to know!

But basically, the bigger the dog, the slower the heart goes. I can’t even imagine how fast a chihuahua’s heart must go, they’re so tiny! (I know because I met one at the park once!)

What is a dog’s heart rhythm?

A dog’s heart rhythm is the amount of beats per minute that our heart should have when in healthy conditions.

When my human first explained I thought they meant music inside my heart like howling or something, but I suppose this makes more sense.

But anyway, you want to know what a dog’s heart rhythm is, right? Well, the normal heart rhythm of a dog depends on two main different things: age and size.

Puppies have a way higher heart rate (maybe because they’re extra excited?), while older dogs have a slower heart rhythm. And something similar happens with size.

Small dogs have a higher heart rate, and larger dogs have a slower heart rate. So if you want to know what’s normal for your dog you have to check those two factors.

The best thing you can do to know the healthy heart rate of your dog is to ask the vet. I hate going to the vet, but my human asked them and they learned to take my pulse properly and to know what was healthy or not, so they could check on me now and then.

To sum it up, I’ll tell you the healthy averages of what a dog’s heart rate should be:

  • Puppies:

When they’re first born, their heart rhythm is between 160 and 200 beats per minute. Pretty fast right!

After two weeks old, it doesn’t slow down at all. If anything, it can get faster, and the heart rhythm switches to between 160 and 220 beats per minute!

  • Adult Dogs:

I suppose we get calmer as we grow older, but I’m not sure if that is what affects the heart rhythm. (I’ll have to ask my human for extra information later maybe!)

But as adults, our heart rhythm is usually between 60 and 120 beats per minute for larger dogs, and 120 and 160 beats per minute for smaller dogs.

Those that are medium-sized, like me, are somewhere in the middle!

What are normal vital signs for a dog?

Now you know how to check our pulse, that’s great! But if you want to be on the safe side, I can tell you about other vital signs that you can know about us dogs!

The main two other things that you should know about are normal breathing and the normal temperature.

I’ll tell you about both!

  • Normal Breathing in Dogs:

We dogs have an average respiration rate of in between 10 and 35 breaths per minute. I’m right bang on the average at 24 breaths per minute! You can calculate our breathing rate by counting our chest movements during 15 seconds, and then multiplying by 4!

Take into account that our average breathing is for when we are calm and relaxed. We obviously breathe a lot more when we’re running around or super excited!

But if you notice that we’re breathing really fast, when supposedly calm, it might be due to a health-related issue, and you should have us checked up!

  • Normal Temperature in Dogs:

For us dogs, our normal temperature is usually between 100 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Although newborn puppies actually have a temperature of 94 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit!

Of course, the temperature can vary a tiny bit depending on the circumstances, but it should remain within those parameters!

Truth is, most dogs have a pretty good thick coat of fur that keeps us warm when it’s cold. We actually struggle a lot more with keeping cool!

So pay special attention to us during summer or during very hot days, as we can overheat easily and become dehydrated!