October 14, 2016

The Correlation Between Increased Heart & Respiratory Rates and Pain

Mark Stephenson, DVM, chief veterinarian at Voyce PRO, explains the correlations between increased heart and respiratory rates and pain in animals.
By American Veterinarian Editorial Staff


Mark Stephenson, DVM, chief veterinarian at Voyce PRO, explains the correlations between increased heart and respiratory rates and pain in animals.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“I think that it has been known for a very long time that heart rate and respiratory rate do increase in animals with pain. I think one example would be when we have dog under anesthesia, for instance, and it becomes too light. Obviously these dogs are undergoing surgery and so they are going to be having pain. Heart rate and respiratory rate are probably the first two things that we will see elevated because they are experiencing pain. [In addition,] we do know that dogs that are in acute pain will pant, and so respiratory rate is certainly a factor there.

What we are looking at is whether or not chronic pain shows up with resting respiratory rate and resting heart rate. That might not be so clear, but we believe that the chronic stress of pain changes chemicals in the body, [such as] cortisol and epinephrine, which [when a dog is] in chronic pain, are always elevated. We believe that there are increases in the resting heart rate and resting respiratory rate as well due to pain.”

Sign up to receive the latest news in veterinary medicine.

Latest Issue

Client Education

American Veterinarian
 
`