Knowing the normal puppy heart rate as well as other common vital signs can help you evaluate your pup's health and recognize when he might need veterinary attention. Puppies typically have a much faster heart rate than adult dogs. Their heart may beat as many as 220 times per minute.
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Normal puppy heart rate
At birth, a puppy's heart rate is normally between 160 and 200 beats per minute. At two weeks old, it may be even faster, reaching 220 beats per minute. As your dog matures, her heart rate will slow down, as adult dogs have a slower heart rate.
The size of the dog also affects the normal heart rate, with smaller dogs typically having a faster heart rate than larger dogs. Eighty to 130 beats per minute is the normal range for small dogs, while larger dogs may have a heart rate between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Since there is such a wide range that is considered normal, it is best to check your pup's pulse regularly when she is healthy and relaxed so you can determine what is normal for her.
You can check a puppy's heartbeat on your own, but you may need some help if your pup is squirming and wanting to play. Make sure your pup is as calm and relaxed as possible, as her heart rate will naturally increase if she is excited or has just finished playing. Find your puppy's femoral pulse on the inside of her elbow where the limb meets her chest. Make sure to use your first two fingers and not your thumb, which has its own pulse. Count the number of beats in 15 seconds and multiply this number by four to determine your puppy's heart rate.
Abnormal heart rate causes
The normal heart rate for a dog assumes he is at rest. An abnormally high heart rate may indicate a medical condition, such as blood loss, dehydration, or heat stroke, or it may simply indicate that he is stressed or has been exercising. If your dog's heart rate is lower than normal, it may be a sign of a serious medical condition. Make sure to note your pup's other symptoms to share with the veterinarian. There are many potential causes, so your veterinarian will need to make an accurate diagnosis to properly treat the condition.
A low heart rate is called sinus bradycardia, and there are several conditions that may cause this. Sedative medications can slow your pup's pulse rate, especially if he gets too much. Other potential causes include hypothermia, a deficiency of blood calcium or magnesium, hypothyroidism, pericarditis, or an inflammation of the lining of the heart. Sinus bradycardia may also be a symptom of many other neurological and respiratory conditions.
Other puppy vital signs
Heart rate is just one of the vital signs that you can monitor. It is also beneficial to keep track of your pup's normal respiration rate and body temperature. The average respiration rate for dogs is 24 breaths per minute, although anything between 10 and 35 breaths per minute is usually considered normal. Puppies breathe faster than adult dogs and may have a resting respiration rate of up to 40 breaths per minute.
Fast breathing may indicate stress, anemia, congestive heart failure, or respiratory problems. Slow and shallow breathing may indicate shock, poisoning, or a neuromuscular condition. In addition to respiration rate, watch for signs of a problem, such as labored breathing, noisy breathing, and coughing.
The normal temperature range for dogs and puppies over a month old is between 100 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Young puppies may have a lower body temperature since they are unable to regulate their own temperature at this age. Puppies under a month old may have a temperature of just 94 to 97 degrees. A high temperature may be a fever caused by an infection or a sign of heatstroke.