Measuring a resting respiratory rate, or sleeping breathing rate, is an important way that you can help monitor your pet at home. It is an invaluable way that you can help us care for your pet.
What is a resting respiratory rate?
A resting respiratory rate is a count of the number of breaths taken per minute. In dogs and cats with heart disease, it can be one of the first signs that heart failure is starting to develop. Early detection of this change can help prevent severe breathing problems.
When do I need to take one?
For dogs and cats with heart disease, we will often ask you to measure the resting respiratory rate a few times over 2-3 days and record each score. Your vet may be interested in an average of the scores, or the lowest score you found so please keep a record each time.
After this, we will recommend monitoring this rate 2-3 times a week ongoing.
What is normal?
Normal dogs and cats will have a breathing rate in the high teens to early twenties. We become concerned when we are getting resting respiratory rates that are over 30. If you notice this it is important to contact us immediately so that we can help.
How do I count my pet’s resting respiratory rate?
It is important to take this measurement when you pet is sound asleep and not dreaming. When you are watching your pet you will notice that the chest rises and falls as they take a breath. This is what we need to count. As the chest moves out and then in, this is counted as one breath.
Use your phone or a kitchen timer and count the number of breaths in 15 seconds, then multiply this number by 4 to get the final reading.
Alternatively, you can count the total number of breaths in 60 seconds. It helps to keep a diary/record of your pet’s resting respiratory rate so that you can see any changes over time. You can even download some apps to input your readings into.
Have a go at counting a resting respiratory rate – the video below goes for 15 seconds. Notice how the dog is sound asleep. Count the number of breaths in that time, and then multiply it by 4. Did you get 40?