At-home Monitoring of Pets with Heart Disease: Heart Rate

The heart rate can be measured at home in many dogs and cats, and some veterinarians recommend checking the heart rate on a regular basis in pets with heart disease. This may be best accomplished by standing behind or over the pet and placing both hands on the chest, with your fingers just behind or slightly underneath the edge of the front legs, with your fingertips pointed down, towards the floor. You should be able to feel the heart beating from this position. Next, count the number of beats over a 30 second period and then multiply this number by two to calculate the heart rate (which is the number of heartbeats per minute). In some thin dogs you can see the heart beating just behind the front leg on the left side of the chest. An alternative method is to find the arterial pulse in the femoral artery region, high up in the groin region, on the inner surface of the back legs. Your pet should be as relaxed as possible (not after a long walk or right after you enter the house), as excitement will cause the pet's heart rate to increase.