Pet Symptom Checker

Slow heart rate

Medical name: Bradycardia

Symptoms

  • Easily worn out
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Cold body
  • Lethargy
  • Fainting

Details

Cats and dogs’ hearts tend to beat faster than human hearts. 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. An abnormally fast, racing heart rate is called tachycardia (think about the tachometer in your racing car) while a too-slow heart has bradycardia (like the slow, easy-going Brady Bunch). A wide variety of acute and chronic medical conditions can cause either tachycardia or bradycardia. Some conditions are treatable; others are manageable and your pet will have to learn to adapt and live with the conditions — with your help, of course. Learn to take your pet’s pulse while things are still normal. Your choice (depending on the pet’s body and degree of cooperation) is the chest area or the groin. 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 the cat or dog). Count beats for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to get beats per minute. In the groin area, you’re feeling for the femoral artery where the hind leg meets the body. Familiarize yourself with the normal strength of your pet’s pulse. A weak pulse can indicate low blood pressure, dehydration, or depression. After your vet determines the underlying cause of your pet's slow heart rate, medication, or a pacemaker, can help.

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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