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What is Rapid Heart Rate?

A dog’s heart rate may increase for a variety of reasons, ranging from excitement or agitation to physical exertion. This is normal and will typically correct itself within a short period of time. However, if the abnormally rapid heart rate is sustained over a longer period, it may be indicative of a medical condition that requires veterinarian attention.

Tachycardia is defined as an abnormally rapid heart rate. Superventricular tachycardia typically arises from heart diseases, while ventricular tachycardia may be a result of heart disease, congenital defects, or other conditions. Ventricular tachycardia, in particular, is a serious condition, as it can lead to sudden collapse or death if the arrhythmia is not controlled.

Rapid Heart Rate Average Cost

From 9 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,500

Average Cost

$850

Symptoms of Rapid Heart Rate in Dogs

Symptoms of tachycardia include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lethargy
  • Weak pulse
  • Fainting or collapse
  • Disinterest and weakness during exercise
  • Fever
Types

Though a rapid heart rate may occur for a variety of reasons, this article focuses primarily on abnormally fast rates that require medical attention. There are two types of tachycardia, which are divided based on where they originate in the heart.

  • Superventricular tachycardia

    - Also referred to as atrial tachycardia, supraventricular tachycardia originates in the atria, which is situated about the ventricles.

  • Ventricular tachycardia

    - Ventricular tachycardia occurs within the ventricles, which are the chambers of the heart responsible for pumping blood. This condition may result in sudden collapse or death and is considered life-threatening if not treated.

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Causes of Rapid Heart Rate in Dogs

Superventricular tachycardia is often caused by heart disease or systemic disease. Ventricular tachycardia can occur for a wider variety of reasons, including:

  • Congenital defect, such as subaortic stenosis
  • Heart disease, such as dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Drug overdose
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Gastrointestinal disease
  • Splenic disease
  • Myocarditis
  • Pancreatitis

Depending on the underlying cause, certain breeds tend to be predisposed to the condition. Boxers, in particular, are more at risk of developing ventricular tachycardia.

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Diagnosis of Rapid Heart Rate in Dogs

As with most veterinarian visits, the doctor will conduct a thorough physical examination of your dog, which may include blood tests and a urinalysis both to narrow down potential causes for your dog’s symptoms and to determine your dog’s overall health. As part of this examination, the veterinarian will need a full history, so be prepared to provide information on the onset and duration of your dog’s clinical signs.

Tachycardia itself is diagnosed via electrocardiography (ECG or EKG), which assesses the electrical activity of the heart. Based on the results of the electrocardiograph exam, the veterinarian will be able to determine your dog’s heart rate, though a Holter monitor worn for 24-hours may be needed for a definitive diagnosis. If the veterinarian is still not having success identifying the core issue, further testing, such as an echocardiogram or a complete blood count, may be required to discover the cause of the rapid heart rate.

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Treatment of Rapid Heart Rate in Dogs

The vets primary goal of administering treatment is to control the arrhythmia, especially in dogs that are showing clinical signs of tachycardia. Antiarrhythmic therapy involves administration of medication, such as lidocaine and sotalol, with dosage varying depending on your dog’s condition and reaction. In severe cases, a defibrillator may be needed to bring the heart beat back to normal.

Medical treatment may be decreased over time if your dog responds well, and the arrhythmia is under control. However, the underlying cause for the tachycardia will need to be addressed in order to ensure long-term survival. Though medication can be used to manage ventricular tachycardia, it does not completely remove the possibility of sudden collapse or death.

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Recovery of Rapid Heart Rate in Dogs

Once your dog is back at home, you will need to continue monitoring his or her heart rate. A Holter monitor is particularly useful for this since it can be worn without hindering your dog’s daily activities and provides you with reliable information regarding your dog’s heart. The veterinarian will need this information to determine whether or not your dog’s arrhythmia is under control, as well as the level of danger he or she may still be in.

Depending on the treatment needed for any underlying conditions, you may need to return to the veterinarian periodically for follow-up exams. Your dog may be weaned from the antiarrhythmic drugs if the tachycardia is under control. The prognosis for superventricular and ventricular tachycardia is typically good, as long as the underlying cause is addressed and the tachycardia is resolved or controlled.

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Rapid Heart Rate Average Cost

From 9 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,500

Average Cost

$850

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Rapid Heart Rate Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Mutt

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Eight Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Heart Racing, Heavy Breathing, Coughing/ Hacking

Ollie has had an increase in a hacking cough over the past couple weeks, the past week his breathing has quickened to over 60 per minute and today his heart is racing. He has always been a lazy dog so energy level is the same.

Aug. 4, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. I think, with the recent onset of rapid breathing, and the lack of appetite that you mentioned in our chat, it would be best to have Ollie seen by a veterinarian right away. They will be able to assess his heart and lungs, and see what might be causing him to have this problem. I hope that all goes well for him and he feels better soon.

Aug. 4, 2020

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Jack Russell Terrier

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Sixteen Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Back Legs Giving Out Panting A Little Disoriented

Our dog is 16 and takes gabapentin, trazadone and meloxidyl. He has sun downers and is treated at our local vet. He’s in great health for his age. We just heard him throwing up. Nothing was there it was just noise. His hind legs are having a hard time moving, he’s panting, seems a little disoriented and back legs give out on him. We brought him outside to get some air. He walked and def has a limp in back. He is def not his usually self. He usually acts a little drunk a night from the medicine but this is much much different. It scares us.

Aug. 1, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, So sorry to hear about your dog. If he continues to be lethargic, it would be best for your vet to look at him. Sometimes these issues can be worsening signs of his disease. Try to offer him food to see if he is interested in eating.

Aug. 1, 2020

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Chorkie

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Four Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Racing Heart Beat

My dogs heart beat is racing quite fast and it seems she’s trying to catch her breath is this normal? She’s not doing it all the time it’s the first time I’ve noticed it.

July 14, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. That does not sound normal to me, no, and I would be concerned. If she is having trouble catching her breath and you can feel her heart beat faster than normal, it would be a good idea to take her in right away to see a veterinarian. They can listen to her heart and assess her heart rhythm, see if anything abnormal is going on with her lungs, and see what's going on. I hope that everything goes well for her.

July 14, 2020

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Chihuahua miniature pinscher

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Lathargic Rapid Heart Beat Slow Response

My 2 year old miniature pinscher chihuahua woke up acting slow and with very rapid heart beat faster than normal he was like that for a few minutes and now is back to normal happy and running around with normal heart rate. We were exposed to covid 19 and are on day7 of quarantine waiting to see if any of us have symptoms. Should I still take him to the vet or first wait to see if it happens again?

July 11, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. Dogs are not affected by Covid, and if he seems back to normal, you may be fine to monitor him to see if the behavior continues. If he does have this problem again, it would be a good idea to have him seen by a veterinarian, but it may have been a one time occurrence. I hope that he is okay.

July 11, 2020

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Chihuahua mix

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Rapid Heart Rate Lathargic Now Back To Normal

My 2 year old chihuahua miniature pinscher mix woke up lathargic and very rapid heart rate then went under the couch. He's fine now and heart rate is back to normal should I take him to the vet? He lives in a home where we were exposed to covid 19 but are doing the 2 weeks of quarantine.so we are not sure any of us have it.

July 11, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Dogs are not affected by Covid, and if he seems back to normal, you may be fine to monitor him to see if the behavior continues. If he does have this problem again, it would be a good idea to have him seen by a veterinarian, but it may have been a one time occurrence. I hope that he is okay.

July 11, 2020

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Alex

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Cocker Spaniel

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7 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Collapse

My 7 years old cocker spaniel collapsed suddenly.his 4 legs are not moving and lost his sense in those. Upon diagnosed vet said he has blood infection and arythmia, envas and neurobion tablets were prescribed. What would be the root cause and how long it takes for him to stand in his feet. Please advise.

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Flea

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Walker hound

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5 Years

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Mild severity

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Increased Heart Rate
Panting
General Discomfort
Swollen Extremities

5 year old walker hound was out all day running, chasing, playing as a normal hound does. He came inside this evening and ate his normal ration of dog food, but wouldn’t come out of his crate. His paws are swollen but only significantly on the right side. He’s drinking as usual. I’ve given him 50mg of Benadryl -25mg at a time over 4 hours. He’s panting heavily but seems comfortable otherwise. He’s non-weight bearing on his right front and doesn’t seem to want to move his hind end at all. Normal lung and guts sounds.

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Jasper

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Mix

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3 Weeks

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Lack Of Appetite
Sleepiness
Fast Heart Rate
Frequent Whining

My dog recently had puppies, 13 to be exact. There were two runts, one being smaller than the other, but the bigger one has been whining in her sleep, refusing to eat or walk regularly. All she wants to do is sleep and she’s only 3 1/2 weeks old and her heart is going a mile a minute.

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E.J.

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Labrador Husky

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7 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Panting
Panting,

My dog E.J. has a heart rate of 150bpm at the vet's office and normal temperature. Blood tests were negative and clean urine. He pants heavy and seems to breath heavy while resting. My vet has put him 10 mg of prednisome. It's been a week of the meds and symptoms have not gotten better. It's been a month when the symptoms showed. I'm concerned

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Toffee

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Poodle

dog-age-icon

Four Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Rapid Heart Rate
Heavy Panting

My 4 year old(shelter estimate) poodlemix(bichpoo) was previously neglected prior to me adopting him, however I don't know the entire backstory. When he sleeps his breathing and heart rate builds rapidly, he pants hard when he is in car (not sure if this comes from abuse or an health issue), and sometimes would pant severely when he is laying down. I know he is young, and has no previous concerns noted by the shelter but I want to know if these are signs of heart problems and if the abuse can play a factor. I also want to know if this is normal because he is asleep or I should take him to the vet to get examined.

Rapid Heart Rate Average Cost

From 9 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,500

Average Cost

$850

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