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Monitoring Your Pet’s Respiratory Rate

A resting respiratory rate is the number of times your pet takes a complete breath (in and out) within a 60 second period while at rest or sleeping (as opposed to when active, playing or dreaming).

Respiratory rates should be monitored in pets with significant heart disease and a risk of developing congestive heart failure (fluid in or around the lungs). This type of monitoring helps to catch the earliest signs of congestive heart failure before the condition develops into an emergency situation potentially requiring hospitalization and oxygen therapy.

How to measure your pet’s resting respiratory rate

  1. Wait until your pet is sleeping soundly (i.e. not dreaming), and not panting or purring.
  2. Count the number of times the chest rises and falls (1 full rise and fall equals 1 breath) over 60 seconds.
  3. Do this at least once a day for 7 days, and record your pet’s resting respiratory rate on your calendar.

This will help you determine your pet’s average resting respiratory rate.

Most dogs and cats have a normal resting respiratory rate with breaths per minute ranging between the mid-teens to mid-20s. In general, a resting respiratory rate over 35-40 breaths per minute is considered abnormal. Specifically, for your individual pet, any increase more than 20% above their average resting respiratory rate is considered abnormal.

If you discover an elevated resting respiratory rate in your pet (without any evidence of difficulty breathing, increase in cough or change in character of cough), recheck their resting respiratory rate again in 30-60 minutes. If your pet’s resting respiratory rate remains elevated, please contact your veterinarian or the cardiology service at BluePearl Veterinary Partners as soon as possible.

At any time, if your pet has an increase in respiratory effort, increase in cough or change in character of cough, or if your pet has a productive cough, please contact your veterinarian or the cardiology service at your nearest BluePearl veterinary hospital immediately.

For more information on this subject, speak to the veterinarian who is treating your pet.