Measuring the Sleeping Respiratory Rate is a simple, at-home test to detect if your pet is developing fluid on their lungs (“pulmonary oedema”). This can occur due to congestive heart failure. Early detection of this fluid is important to keep your pet breathing comfortably, and to prevent a potentially life-threatening respiratory crisis from occurring.
For pets on diuretic medications (e.g. furosemide), it can also help us to monitor whether theirmedication dose needs to be reviewed.
SRR is the number of breaths that your pet takes in one minute, while asleep. It is best measured
when your pet is at home, sleeping deeply. Normal SRR is less than 30 breaths per minute for dogs
1. Wait until your pet is sleeping restfully.
2. Count how many breaths he/she takes in 60 seconds. (One breath = chest moving in and out
It may be helpful to have a timer set to go off after 60 seconds, or a helper to watch the clock for you. Record the number in a diary or on the page attached.
Alternatively, it is possible to use an app on your smartphone to simplify the process. The Cardalis app is one designed especially for this purpose. This app is available to download free of charge from the Apple App Store and Google Play. It is very simple to use, but if you need help to get started, we will be happy to advise.
Recording SRR when your pet is awake will make it less reliable.
If measuring your pet’s SRR regularly is not possible for any reason, the safest alternative is to have your pet examined more frequently by us. Chest radiographs (x-rays) are the gold standard test for checking for fluid on the lungs. Ultrasound of the heart or lungs (echocardiography) can also be useful. We can advise on how often that should be. If your pet develops symptoms of increased breathing effort, difficulty breathing, or lethargy, it is VERY important you have them seen by a vet without delay.
Over the long term, SRR should be checked once or twice weekly at a minimum, and the result recorded each time.
It is a good idea to check SRR daily for a few days after any change in heart medication.
If you get an abnormal result (>30 breaths per minute during deep sleep), it is a good idea to recheck the SRR again after a few minutes. If your pet’s SRR remains above 30 breaths per minute, but they appear comfortable, arrange an appointment within the next 24-48 hours if possible.
If your pet’s SRR is consistently above 40 breaths per minute, OR they have obviously laboured breathing, contact the clinic WITHOUT DELAY.
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