Updated at: 14-01-2022 - By: petstutorial

What is Heart Beating Fast?

Depending on the size of your dog, a faster heartbeat could be completely normal. Smaller dogs tend to have much faster heartbeats than larger dogs, so it is important to understand what is normal for your particular dog. Tachycardia simply refers to an abnormally quick heartbeat. Besides size, however, there are a few other reasons why your dog may be having a faster heartbeat than usual. This heart issue can be defined a couple of different ways. The first being tachycardia, which means an abnormally fast heart rate. And secondly, arrhythmia, which is the irregular rhythm of the heart. Listed below are a few of the reasons why your dog may be experience a fast heartbeat:


  • Heart disease
  • Drug overdose
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Gastrointestinal disease
  • Ventricular tachycardia
  • Supraventricular tachycardia
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Recent toxin ingestion

If you notice that your dog is having a faster heartbeat than usual, it is vital to get him to a vet as soon as possible. Hearts are very difficult to repair once damage has been done and damage can lead to death if left untreated. So, if you suspect that anything is off, medical attention will be necessary in order to diagnose the issue further. It is always better to be safe than sorry, therefore do not hesitate to get medical help if your dog is showing signs of rapid heartbeat, excessive panting, shortness of breath, lethargy, weak pulse, or fever.

What to do if your Dog is Heart Beating Fast

It can be quite alarming to discover that your dog’s heart is beating a bit too fast for comfort. But quite often, it may just be that you’ve never thought about the normal heart rate for your pet. Smaller dogs, under 30 lbs. tend to have a much faster heartbeat than larger dogs, around 120 to 160 beats per minute. Larger dogs over 30 lbs. should have a heartbeat of about 60 to 120 beats per minute. The best way to determine your dog’s heart rate is to follow these steps:

  • Grab a timing device (clock, watch, smartphone)
  • Place your hand over the left side of their chest, just behind the front leg
  • Count the number of beats in 15 seconds, then multiply by four to get the heart rate in bpm (beats per minute)
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Because normal heartbeats can vary, it may be difficult to get a correct reading the first time without a baseline. So perform the test a few times before making any assumptions. Measure while your dog is resting or asleep. If what you find is concerning to you, then be sure to set up an appointment for your dog with the vet as soon as possible

Why is my dog breathing fast?

First, we should know what a healthy respiratory (breathing) rate for a dog is. They’d usually take between 10 to 35 breaths per minute when resting. When exercising, your pooch will breathe faster – perhaps by as much as 10 times, which means they’ll breathe in 100 to 350 times each minute.

Not all panting is bad, as it helps regulate your dog’s body temperature, cools him down and allows water and heat to evaporate from the tongue, the mouth and upper respiratory tract.

Because dogs can’t sweat like their humans, they need to breathe fast to allow air to circulate efficiently through the body. Fast breathing allows a dog’s body to get back to a normal temperature.

Why Heart Beating Fast Occurs in Dogs

When determining why your dog may have a fast heartbeat, it is important to remember that size does play a part in heart pace. Smaller dogs, even those in perfect health, will have a faster heartbeat than a larger dog. Small dogs and puppies typically have a normal heartbeat of around 120 to 160 beats per minute. Larger dogs, over 30 pounds, tend to have a slower pace at around 60 to 120 beats per minute. If your dog is over the average speed for his weight category, he could be a victim of heart disease, drug overdose, congestive heart failure, gastrointestinal disease, ventricular tachycardia, or supraventricular tachycardia. As the first line of defense for your pet, understanding heart issues will help to ensure that you recognize an issue and can act accordingly. Read the descriptions below to learn a bit about what each of these underlying issues are and be sure to speak with your vet immediately if you suspect your dog is suffering from one of them.

Heart Disease

Although it is upsetting to hear, heart disease in dogs is actually quite common. There are many reasons why problems in the heart occur and heart failure may occur as a consequence. Monitor your pet closely and if you notice any signs of heart disease such as coughing, lethargy or loss of appetite take your dog to the vet as soon as possible to be examined.

Drug Overdose

Toxicity can take place when there is too much of a drug in the bloodstream of a dog at one time. This can happen due to accidental ingestion or by human error. Even if the dog has been specifically prescribed a medicine, too much of it may cause irregular heartbeats or tachycardia. Once this happens the toxicity can either occur very quickly, known as acute, or it can take effect over a long period of time which is known as chronic. Regardless of the speed toxicity occurs, it is vital to get your dog immediate treatment in order to minimize the damage.


Prevention of Heart Beating Fast

Those predisposed to heart disease should be regularly screened. Unfortunately, there are some cases where heart defects are inevitable. Genetics can pass along a heart problem, so it is worth screening breeding parents.

The most important thing to remember is that no matter what the cause of your dog’s fast heartbeat may be, getting him to the vet for treatment as soon as possible is the best thing that you can do. Surgery or medications may be able to stop any further damage from occurring so that your pet can live a full life.

Understand what the normal heartbeat range is for your dog by performing the test mentioned above and do not hesitate to take action if you suspect that anything is amiss

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