Understanding Tachycardia in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Management

Understanding Tachycardia in Dogs

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What causes a dog’s heartbeat to beat abnormally quickly?

A dog’s rapid pulse may be brought on by a number of factors, including:

Physical Anxiety or Stress

During physical activity, play, or even just the prospect of a stroll or food, dogs’ heart rates can momentarily rise.2 Within 15 to 20 minutes after the stressful or exciting event has ended, heart rates usually return to normal.

Heart or circulatory disease that is underlying

In dogs, a consistently high heart rate can be brought on by anemia and cardiac disease. These include congenital cardiac abnormalities, dilated cardiomyopathy, valvular disease, and arrhythmias.3 To control the symptoms and address the underlying illness, medical intervention is frequently required.


 A dog’s resting heart rate may rise 30–40% over normal due to an overactive thyroid gland. There may also be additional clinical symptoms like anxiety, increased appetite, and weight loss.4 The most common forms of treatment for hyperthyroidism are medication or surgery.


A fever from an infection or inflammatory condition may cause tachycardia, a medical term for a fast heartbeat. Other symptoms like lethargy, loss of appetite and coughing may point to the underlying cause.5 Antibiotics or other treatments are needed to address the source of the fever and lower the heart rate.

Panic or Severe Anxiety

Dogs experiencing severe panic, phobias or painful conditions may have heart rates over 200 beats per minute. Other symptoms of anxiety like trembling, panting and pacing are often present.6 Behaviour modification techniques, medication or treatment of the painful condition may be required.

Monitoring and Treatment

If your dog has an abnormally fast heart rate of unknown cause, the vet will recommend diagnostic testing like bloodwork, x-rays and an electrocardiogram to identify the underlying problem.

7 Treatment will depend on the specific cause but may include:

• Medication to manage arrhythmias and lower heart rate
• Surgery for heart valve issues
• Drugs to treat hyperthyroidism
• Antibiotics for infections causing fever
• Behaviour modification and medication for anxiety

If your dog exhibits indications of lethargy, collapse, or difficulty breathing together with an elevated heart rate that lasts longer than 30 minutes, keep an eye out for any other symptoms and call your veterinarian right once. Early care can enhance your dog’s quality of life and help avoid health concerns.

Understanding Tachycardia in Dogs 2

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a hereditary cardiac condition

Here are some essential details about canine hereditary heart disease:

Due to genetics, some breeds are predisposed to certain heart diseases. Breeds like Bulldogs, Boxers, Boston Terriers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and Dachshunds are examples of this.

Dogs with dilated cardiomyopathy frequently inherit the condition from their parents. It weakens and enlarges the heart, making it less capable of efficiently pumping blood.

Another inherited cardiac issue, mitral valve disease, is more common in small-breed dogs. When the mitral valve does not seal tightly, blood might return to the left atrium of the heart.

• Both mitral valve disease and dilated cardiomyopathy are progressive, meaning they get worse over time.

Between the ages of 5 and 10 in a dog’s life, they often manifest later.

• Clinical symptoms can include coughing, breathing problems, sluggishness, weakness, and collapse. Early on, many dogs do not exhibit any signs.

• Blood tests, chest x-rays, EKGs, and echocardiograms are used to make the diagnosis. The heart chambers and valve function can be assessed via an echocardiography.

• The goal of available treatments is to control the disease’s symptoms and halt their progression. This can entail taking medications, exercising less, or changing your diet.

• Not all canines with the inherited heart defects will exhibit symptoms. However, ethical breeders examine breeding animals and work to gradually lower the prevalence of these inherited cardiac conditions.

• If you believe your dog has a hereditary cardiac problem, consult your veterinarian to learn more about diagnostic procedures and treatment choices that can prolong and enhance your dog’s quality of life. An early diagnosis is crucial.

Additional Root Causes of Dog Tachycardia

There are a number of additional potential causes for a dog’s heart rate to rise noticeably above normal, aside from physical illnesses and psychological anguish. These consist of:

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Pulmonary Fibrosis

The buildup of excessive scar tissue in the lungs can make it difficult for the heart to pump blood efficiently, forcing it to work harder and beat faster. Pulmonary fibrosis has many possible causes from genetic conditions to inhalation of toxic substances.

Respiratory Diseases

Bacterial or viral infections that affect the airways and lungs often cause tachypnea, a fast respiratory rate, which can also drive an elevated heart rate in dogs as they struggle to get enough oxygen.


When bacteria or other pathogens invade the bloodstream, it can trigger a life-threatening condition known as sepsis. The body goes into inflammatory shock in response, often characterized by abnormalities in heart rate and blood pressure.

Toxic Shock

Ingestion of toxins and exposure to chemicals can send a dog into toxic shock, initially marked by symptoms like tachycardia and low blood pressure. Anaphylactic shock from severe allergic reactions also causes a similar physiological response.

Medication Side Effects

Certain medications intended to treat other conditions can inadvertently increase a dog’s heart rate as a side effect. The risks and benefits of the treatment should be weighed on a case-by-case basis.

In summary, while disease and psychological stress are leading drivers of tachycardia in dogs, there are many additional potential causes ranging from respiratory issues to medication side effects. Monitoring for other symptoms in conjunction with an increased heart rate can help narrow the possible diagnoses and guide appropriate testing and management.

Psychological Stress and Anxiety: Understanding Why a Dog’s Heart Beats Faster

Within hours of receiving a vaccination, severe, life-threatening responses might happen in extremely uncommon situations (less than 1%). Shock, a swollen face, and a collapsed trachea are possible symptoms. The animal requires emergency veterinarian care.

Therefore, minor, transient side effects like fever, tiredness, and pain are fairly unusual even though significant adverse responses are rare. Contact your veterinarian for an assessment if adverse effects last more than a few days, do not get better with therapy, or are severe.

In almost every case, the advantages of vaccinations in preventing fatal or crippling diseases in dogs outweigh the hazards. But it’s best to refrain from overvaccinating. Consult your veterinarian for advice on the best vaccination plan for your dog’s particular needs.

When a dog’s heart beats quickly without any obvious physical cause, psychological stress should be taken into account. Dogs frequently experience chronic anxiety from phobias, separation anxiety, and noise aversion, which can result in consistently increased heart rates.

It’s critical to call your veterinarian if you detect your dog’s heart pounding rapidly, whether at rest or during indications of discomfort or worry. Through testing, they can rule out any physical concerns and, if necessary, connect you to a canine behavior expert. Over time, behavior modification and even medication may help the dog feel less anxious and have a slower heart rate.

In conclusion, psychological stress and worry should not be disregarded, even though medical illnesses are frequently to blame for tachycardia in dogs. Keep an eye out for any adjustments in your dog’s routine, surroundings, or behavior that correspond with an elevated heart rate. Your dog will have the best chance of finding relief if you work with your veterinarian to discover and treat the underlying reason.