Jump to section

What is Irregular Heartbeat?

Irregular heartbeat is not uncommon in dogs and may not be a serious health problem, but should be checked out by your veterinarian. Dogs hearts are similar to humans in that their heartbeat increases with exertion and decreases during rest. What you feel as a rapid heart rate in your dog may actually be a normal heart rate because their heart beats much faster than your own. It may be hard to detect in your dog and is most often found during a routine examination. If you suspect your dog has an irregular heartbeat, you should take him to your veterinarian right away, as this can be a sign of a serious disorder.

Irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, is an abnormal electrical activity pattern in the muscle of the heart. Any type of disturbance or variance of a normal heart rate or rhythm in dogs is considered canine arrhythmia.

Irregular Heartbeat Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,500

Average Cost

$2,200

Symptoms of Irregular Heartbeat in Dogs

  • Fast heartbeat
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Fainting
  • Breathing trouble
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness

 Types

  • Sinus arrhythmia
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Atrioventricular block
  • Ventricular tachycardia
  • Premature beats
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Irregular Heartbeat in Dogs

Although any age, sex, and breed of dog can have an irregular heartbeat, some breeds are more susceptible to certain types of arrhythmia. In a number of cases, irregular heartbeat is caused by a hidden disorder like abnormal electrolytes, systemic disease, heart disease, injuries, or infection.  

  • Sinus arrhythmia – Short-muzzled dogs, such as Bulldogs, Pug, and Pekingese are more commonly affected due to their difficulty breathing
  • Atrial fibrillation – Giant breed dogs, like Saint Bernards, Great Danes, and German Shepherds are more susceptible to this type of arrhythmia
  • Atrioventricular block – Can sometimes be caused by a congenital disorder or an underlying disorder
  • Ventricular tachycardia – More common in Boxers and Doberman Pinschers
  • Premature beats – Heart disease, abnormal electrolytes, and systemic disorders can cause premature beats
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Irregular Heartbeat in Dogs

Your veterinarian will do a complete physical examination, listen to your dog’s heart, and check other vitals. It is important to give the veterinarian as much information as you have about what brought you to the clinic, when the symptoms started, and how often you have witnessed these symptoms. He will also need to know if the problem has been getting worse.

 Several lab tests will need to be done to determine the amounts of potassium, urea, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, chloride, creatinine, and calcium. The veterinarian technician will take a blood and urine sample to check:

  • CBC
  • Blood chemistry panel
  • Blood gases
  • Urinalysis
  • Electrolytes

 The veterinarian will also do some other tests that are necessary to diagnose your dog’s irregular heartbeat, such as:

  • Head and chest radiographs will be taken to look for abnormalities
  • An ECG (electrocardiogram) can show any abnormal premature contractions or accelerated/decelerated heart rate
  • Atropine response test to find the true cause of the irregular heartbeat

 Your dog’s veterinarian may not be able to get conclusive results if the heartbeat irregularity is not present at the time of your visit. If this happens, he will send your dog home with a Holter monitor to obtain a record of your dog’s heartbeat for 24 hours. A Holter monitor is a portable ECG machine that is attached to electrodes and wrapped with a bandage to continuously read your dog’s heartbeat. The veterinarian or a cardiology technician will review the results the next day to check the results and decide on the best treatment plan.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Irregular Heartbeat in Dogs

Your veterinarian may decide to hospitalize your dog in the case of acute respiratory distress. Oxygen and IV fluids will be given to help stabilize his breathing. Additionally, medications will be given in the case of any of these chronic conditions:

  • Sinus arrhythmia is usually treated with medication such as Atropine or Mexiletine
  • Atrial fibrillation is regulated by Digoxin and possibly extended-release Diltiazem
  • Atrioventricular block can be treated by Theophylline or Propantheline. The veterinarian may decide a pacemaker should be surgically placed if necessary. If the irregular heartbeat is caused by an underlying disorder, treatment will be given accordingly
  • Ventricular tachycardia may be treated with antiarrhythmic therapy in breeds predisposed to this condition. Lidocaine, Sotalol and Mexiletine are sometimes given if your dog is in acute VT
  • Premature beat is medicated with Mexiletine or Sotalol
arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Irregular Heartbeat in Dogs

Your dog’s prognosis depends on the reason for the irregular heartbeat. If your dog’s irregular heartbeat is not considered a threat to his health, the veterinarian will just have you bring him back for regular check-ups.

In the case of any of the above ailments, the prognosis is good as long as it is caught and treated early enough. Medication and frequent check-ups with your veterinarian will be be continued indefinitely.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Irregular Heartbeat Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,500

Average Cost

$2,200

arrow-up-icon

Top

Irregular Heartbeat Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Clover

dog-breed-icon

Cavapoo

dog-age-icon

12 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Out Of Breath
Panting

My 1 year old cavoodle Clover has just been diagnosed with a minor sinus arrhythmia. There is no change in her eating or toilet routines. The only change is she gets puffed out easy during playtime and lays down with her tongue out panting heavy (or panting not so heavy, depending on the play). She, however, even if puffed out, still wants to run around and keep playing. Vet offered for me to go to the cardiologist for peace of mind but said there wasn't anything i needed to really worry about. My question, should I be vigilant in monitoring her play and ensuring she doesnt get puffed out? This came on quite suddenly about 5 days after her 1st Birthday

Aug. 20, 2018

Clover's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

You should be mindful of her exercise intolerance and ensure that she doesn’t get too excited or over stress herself during playtime; a visit to a Cardiologist would be advisable just for an examination to be on the safe side to ensure all bases are covered. It can be difficult to keep a dog from tiring themselves in these situations. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 20, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Buster

dog-breed-icon

Boxer

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Fainting Three Times In The Week Of
Fainting. Three Times In A Week.

What advice would be given after diagnosis of irregular heart beat? ECG was advised but taking 4 to 5 days.... should there have been any other advice or medication/tests done on the day of diagnosis before being allowed to take him home?

May 17, 2018

Buster's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Irregular heartbeat is a vague diagnosis, there are different types of arrhythmias; however an ECG would be a useful diagnostic tool to determine the specific type of arrhythmia before any treatment or management is attempted. Echocardiography is also a useful tool to check heart structure and function which may aid in a diagnosis. For the time being, until an ECG can be carried out you should keep a close eye on Buster and ensure that he is kept calm. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 18, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Mo

dog-breed-icon

Boxer

dog-age-icon

8 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Sleeps A Lot
Heavy Panting During Exercise

My boxer, Mo, is 8 years old and has never had any health issues. She is very playful and loves to go on walks and run in our back yard. She went to the vet in January and was given a clean bill of health. We took her back in May and the Vet heard an irregularity in her heart beat. They did an EKG on the spot and confirmed that her heart beat is irregular. Vet said the next step is x-ray to look for masses and then an ultrasound. I guess I am just wondering how beatable this is? Will she be okay or is this going to really affect her health negatively?

May 3, 2018

Mo's Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1611 Recommendations

I'm sorry that this is happening to Mo. There are many different types of cardiac irregularities, and some are quite benign, while others do need treatment. This may have been an irregularity that was subtle and has been there all along, or it may be a new occurrence. Until you are able to find out more information about her heart rhythm and any abnormalities that are happening, your veterinarian won't know which type the arrhythmia is, or how to treat it. You'll sort of need to wait and see until you have more information, but if she is bright and happy otherwise, we can hope for the best!

May 4, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Shelby

dog-breed-icon

Westie

dog-age-icon

14 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Fainting

I have a Westie , she had a fainting spell several months ago. The Vet said a heart murmur and irregular heartbeat. no treatment necessary at this point. We took her in for a Wellness check. Now they want to do a whole battery of test, IVS EKG, Antech, Indexx, Radiograph METs. Do you think all these test are necessary? I though we could just try some medication.

March 14, 2018

Shelby's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Without examining Shelby I cannot determine whether or not the tests are justified or not, it is useful to diagnose heart issues so that the specific treatment can be given; whilst medication can help, it is always best to be sure what the specific cause is since some medications are contraindicated with some heart conditions and may cause a worsening of symptoms. Discuss with your Veterinarian about what possible conditions (differential diagnosis) they think Shelby may have and which test(s) they wish to do to narrow down to a diagnosis. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 14, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

wilson

dog-breed-icon

Labradoodle

dog-age-icon

15 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

My dog Wilson is a 15month old labradoodle. He accidentally ingested a small container of craisins and has vomited 4 times in the last 24 hours. My understanding unlike raisins, cranberry is not toxic. His vomit does not appear full of bile or blood or foam. Hard to know if he vomited or regurged. He is able to void. He is listless and has a irregular heart beat but not tachycardic. I have given him about 6 oz of coconut water slightly diluted. He has no spunk, is lying quietly He ate a little today and he did go for a walk today with family while I was at work. I think he hopefully should be okay overnight I will try to hydrate him again with coconut h20. Should I take him to vet asap or wait until am? Thanks Tina

Dec. 8, 2017

wilson's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Thankfully cranberries, fresh or dried or not toxic to dogs but some products may have high sugar content which may cause issues with digestion in dogs; it is a case of keeping Wilson hydrated (plain water is fine) and keeping a close eye on him. If you have concerns, you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination but otherwise feed small bland meals every few hours and see how he goes. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Dec. 8, 2017

Was this experience helpful?

Irregular Heartbeat Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,500

Average Cost

$2,200