Knowing your dog's heart rate can give you significant clues as to how healthy he or she is. By taking your dog's heart rate at frequent intervals you can establish a normal value that he or she normally resides in. Once you know this range of numbers you can tell if something is significantly wrong by how far above or below the range your dog is. This makes the decision to take your dog to the vet that much easier to make. So how do you take your dog's heart rate?
Before you even get near your dog you need a couple of things if you have them. The must have is a watch or clock with second hands. The second thing that is always nice to have is a stethoscope. A cheap one will do for this purpose, so don't worry about spending lots of money on a fancy one.
Next, have someone hold your dog still with him standing evenly on all four feet. You can take the heart rate from either side, but the left side is usually clearer. Place the stethoscope in your ears and place it directly behind the dogs elbow on the front leg. Press the stethoscope head upwards and forward from the elbow gently, until you hear the lub-dub of the heart.
Once you can clearly hear the heart beat, count how many heartbeats occur in six seconds by looking at your watch. Your helper can watch the time for you if needed. After six seconds take the total number of heartbeats you heard and multiply it times ten. This will give you how many heartbeats per minute or your dog's heart rate.
If you don't have a stethoscope, don't worry. If you press two fingers in the same position as the stethoscope you can feel the heartbeat and count it in the same manner as mentioned above. Take the number of beats in six seconds, multiply it by 10 and you have your heart rate.
The normal heart rate for your dog will be dependent upon how big he or she is and their body weight and physical condition.