Monitoring Your Dog’s Breathing

Your veterinarian may suggest that you monitor certain aspects of your dog’s health. One aspect to monitor is your dog’s resting respiratory rate (RRR). It is an important tool that can help in a variety of ways:


  • If your dog has a heart murmur but no clinical signs of heart failure, resting respiratory rate monitoring:
    • Helps identify the progression of heart disease into congestive heart failure
    • OR helps reassure you that your dog’s breathing is within normal range


  • If your dog has heart failure, resting respiratory rate monitoring:
    • Helps gain a better understanding of how the heart is coping
    • Helps show how your dog is doing with congestive heart failure medications

Monitoring your dog's resting respiratory rate - It's As Easy As 1-2-3!

Step 1. Determine your dog's respiratory rate:

  • First, make sure your dog is lying down or sleeping.
  • Then using a watch or clock, count the number of times your dog breathes (inhalation + exhalation = one breath) in one minute.
  • This is the resting respiratory rate per minute, which you need to record.


Step 2. Record resting respiratory rate daily for the first week. That ensures that you know your dog’s average resting respiratory rate on a “normal” day, not a “good” or “bad” day. This average is known as the baseline resting respiratory rate.


Step 3. Once a week moving forward, repeat Step 1 and reassess the resting respiratory rate compared to the baseline resting respiratory rate.

  • If the resting respiratory rate measured in any week is consistently greater than 20% higher than the baseline resting respiratory rate determined in Step 1, you should call your veterinarian.
  • If resting respiratory rate is considerably greater than 30 breaths per minute, you should contact your veterinarian.
  • An appointment will be made at your clinic to determine if this increase in resting respiratory rate could be a very early sign of progression of your dog’s heart disease or if this treatment protocol needs to be assessed.


If you don’t have a smartphone, simply record the information in a notepad, as follows:

Date Resting respiration rate Notes
  (breaths per minute) (worse/same/improved)