Pet Symptom Checker

Rapid, irregular heartbeat

Medical name: Atrial flutter


  • Stressful breathing
  • Dry cough
  • Easily worn out


An atrial flutter in pets refers to a rapid, irregular heartbeat, or rhythm. An atrial flutter is most commonly characterized by labored or distressed breathing, in addition to a rapid heartbeat. To take your pet's pulse, with the animal sitting or lying in a relaxed position, locate the heart (on the left side of the chest near the elbow) with the palm of one hand (the other hand can restrain or reassure your pet). Count beats for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to get beats per minute. You can also take your pet's pulse in the groin area, where you’re feeling for the femoral artery where the hind leg meets the body. For a small dog (up to 20 pounds) at rest, a normal heart rate is 70-180 beats per minute. Medium- and large-size dogs’ hearts (at rest) beat at an almost-humanlike 60-140 beats per minute. Young puppies (up to 6 weeks) race along at as much as 220 beats. Cats, too, normally have fast hearts: somewhere between 120-240 in adult cats and up to 300 beats per minute in young (up to 6 weeks) kittens. Other symptoms may include a dry cough. Your pet may also become easily tired. If you suspect that your pet is suffering from an atrial flutter, your vet will examine him for heart disease, and valve problems in order to treat accordingly.

Zootoo does not provide veterinary medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s medical condition.
If you think your pet may be experiencing a medical emergency, call your veterinarian or an emergency animal care facility immediately.

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