HRV – An Indicator for Pet Pain

What is HRV?

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a statistical analysis of the small variations in time intervals between heartbeats. These variations are a normal physiological phenomenon. Studies have shown that changes in HRV are associated with a wide range of diseases as well as pain, stress and obesity, in both people and animals.

High HRV indicates good fitness level and healthy heart and nervous system. Low HRV is associated with stress, pain, heart disease and other pathologies.

Using HRV to detect Pain in a cat or dog

HRV has long been recognized as a marker for autonomic nervous system activity. Clinical research has documented reduction in HRV (decreased variability) in various disease states. Papers published in veterinary journals showed that reduction in HRV is associated with heart diseases, sepsis, diabetes, obesity, and more. HRV has also been shown to be reduced in states of chronic pain and stress in humans and lab animals.

This makes HRV the first objective, remote, non-invasive, quantifiable marker for measuring potential pain in pets.

Previously, measurement of HRV required Holter monitoring, which precluded wide spread use in veterinary medicine. However, with the introduction of the PetPace collar, which constantly measures and reports HRV, it is possible to better monitor pets with certain diseases as well as pain or stress.

Case Studies

Examples for the use of PetPace HRV data in real clinical cases: