Heartbeat Arrhythmia

A cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat) is any abnormality in pace, intensity, or regularity of a pet’s heartbeat. Though not every arrhythmia is cause for concern, others can be an indication of a serious, life-threatening disease. Cardiac arrhythmias can be caused by genetic abnormalities, environmental factors, or breed predisposition. They can occur in all canine and feline breeds, ages, and genders.

A pet’s heartbeat should be regular and strong. If beating slightly alters while breathing in and out, this can be caused by an unfamiliar environment or momentary stress; however, abnormalities, including a speedy or sluggish pulse, can indicate anemia, lung disease, pressure on the brain, or a failure of circulation. The only way to determine the underlying issue is to have a veterinarian develop a proper diagnosis. Until the origin is determined, an arrhythmia should not be taken lightly. The symptoms of an arrhythmia may come and go; regardless of whether your pet is currently showing indications of an irregular heartbeat, we recommend scheduling an appointment with the veterinarian to ensure there are not any serious underlying cardiac issues.

Possible indications of a heart arrhythmia: 

  • Abdominal pain. 
  • Difficulty breathing. 
  • Fast heart rate when pet is relaxed. 
  • Lack of appetite. 
  • Lethargy. 
  • Loss of consciousness. 
  • Slow heart rate when activity level is high. 
  • Sudden, unexplainable collapse.
  • Weakness.

Diagnosing heart arrhythmia

In diagnosing an arrhythmia, a full physical will be performed with a complete blood analysis. The veterinarian will determine if an ECG or EKG are necessary. Blood work can establish whether a pet has anemia and can also detect whether the organs are working properly. An EKG can detect the arrhythmia, while an ECG can determine the type of arrhythmia. Chest X-rays might be necessary to determine if heart disease or heart failure has occurred.

How is heart arrhythmia treated?

After the veterinarian has obtained a positive diagnosis, they will discuss the various treatment options. Surgery and prescription medications are both available to your pet as possible therapies.

Prescription medication - Several medications are available to help control arrhythmias, and the veterinarian will discuss which prescription is best for your pet’s age, gender, and breed.

Surgery – There are two surgical options, both of which must be performed by a veterinary cardiology specialist.

Catheter ablation - destroys the defective electrical pathways within and around the heart that cause the arrhythmia. It involves inserting a catheter into the faulty blood vessel and using electrical impulses to destroy tissue. This method has been used in canines successfully, but has yet to be tested in felines.

Implanting a pacemaker - similar to a human implant, pet pacemakers control cardiac arrhythmias. Pet pacemakers have only been tested in canines.

If you have any questions about an irregular heartbeat, feel free to contact our office.


Read what people are saying about us.

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We took our 5 month old puppy in to get neutered today and had a great experience. They educate you on expenses without making you feel guilty if you decide against extra options. We were able to pick him up 5 hours after dropping him off which was also amazing. Would highly recommend to anyone looking for a vet.

Chelsea G.'s

Dr. Genova has been my 4 legged daughter's doctor for her whole life (10 years). He is very personable, informative and kind. I seriously cannot say enough positive things about him.. Why else would I trust him to take care of my baby girl?

The rest of the staff is also very kind. Most of them have changed throughout the years but one thing that hasn't is that you can immediately tell how much they all love animals.

This is definitely one of this places that I wish I could give more than 5 stars to.

John L.

We had our first experience at Village at Main Veterinary Hospital today and I couldn't wait to write a review because of how pleased I was with the entire staff and environment. I arrived way early for my appointment but they took me anyway since it was open with no problem at all. As soon as we walked in the door my puppy and I were greeted with smiles and even staff that didn't run the counter came out and greeted and loved on my puppy as well which really put her at ease. Every staff member acknowledged our presence at some point. We were taken back to an exam room and we saw Dr. Tran who was warm and loving toward my puppy, she really took her time and you could easily see that she loves what she does. Dr. Tran covered all of my questions I had planned to ask as well as asked if I had any others. I would highly recommend this clinic to anybody who has had a bad experience at another clinic because it will totally make up for it as it did in our case. Thank you so much again for making us feel right at home and loving what you guys do, I will continue to drive 30 minutes just to have my pooch continue to see you guys :)

Tiffany B.

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