Many factors can affect your dog's heart rate -- including shock, illness, anxiety, accident or blood loss -- which you can measure by palpating the dog's femoral pulse. Knowing how to take your dog's pulse is a handy tool to help you keep tabs of her vital signs.
Lay your dog on the floor or a steady, stable surface.
Look in the center of your dog's upper thigh for a depression where the femoral artery crosses the femur bone, which is the uppermost part of her rear leg.
Place the ball of one or two fingers over this artery on the inside of your dog's thigh.
Use a watch with a second hand and count the number of beats for 30 or 60 seconds. Jot down the number of beats within this time frame. Multiply the beats you count in the 30-second time span by two.
Compare your dog's pulse rate against the normal rate for dogs. For small dogs, the rate is 90 to 140 beats per minute. For large dogs, the rate is 60 to 90 beats per minute.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- Practice on your dog when she is healthy, so you are prepared to take your dog's pulse quickly in an emergency.
- If your dog's heart rate beats more than 160 beats per minute on a continual basis, take her to your vet as soon as possible.
- A low heart rate can cause your dog to faint, and can be a symptom of a serious problem your vet should diagnose.
Elle Smith has been an advertising professional for more than 25 years. Her work for ABC, CBS and Sony Pictures Television has appeared on radio, on air, in print and outdoors. In addition, Smith has more than 20 years experience in marketing, graphic arts, commercial photography and print production, and is a licensed real estate agent with property management certification in California.