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Respiratory Rate Monitoring in Dogs and Cats

Did you know that your pet’s respiratory rate can tell us a lot about their heart and lungs? An increase in the resting respiratory rate (RRR) or their sleeping respiratory rate (SRR) may indicate a trip to your vet before their next annual appointment.

How can I get an RRR or SRR at home? A breath consists of a full cycle of chest movement in and out. You will want to count how many of these cycles occur in a 30 second time frame and simply multiply that by 2. The RRR should be done while your pet is calm and has not had any physical stimulation for at least 30 minutes. For the SRR, your pet needs be sleeping for at least 15 minutes and not twitching or “running” in their sleep. You never want to check a respiration rate when your pet is panting.

What is normal? A normal range for the sleeping respiratory rate in dogs is 6-25 breaths per minute while the range for a resting respiratory rate is 14-35 breaths per minute. Cats differ a little with both their SRR and RRR at 8-35 breaths per minute. Respiratory rates should be checked at least twice a week around the same time each day. A consistent elevation in respiratory rates should be further examined by your veterinarian. It could be an indicator of disease in your pet.