Just like people, dogs can suffer from a variety of health conditions. However, it gets a bit more complicated in their case because animals can’t verbally communicate their needs and problems. That’s why all pet owners must provide their furry friends with high-quality, nutritious foods, exercise, and love, and to know them well enough to notice even the slightest changes in their behavior. It’s vital, considering that many serious issues don’t show any noticeable symptoms until it’s too late.
For example, according to canine experts from My Sweet Puppy, something that seems like a common cough or simply prolonged bad mood may be warning signs of heart disease.
Some breeds are more prone to heart failure than others; the risk increases with age, too. But you should always stay attentive. In this article, you will learn the essential information concerning heart disease in dogs so that you know what to look out for and how to react.
Heart disease in dogs
For most dogs, heart disease is not very dangerous to their life, as long as you implement the proper treatment and nutritious diet. The majority of problems involve issues with pumping and disrupting blood flow, which can be quite easily managed by the right foods and medications.
There are three main types of heart disease in dogs:
- Chronic valvular disease refers to a condition when one of the heart valves leaks, which decreases the amount of blood that can be pumped and distributed around the body (along with oxygen and necessary nutrients).
- Myocardial disease occurs when the heart muscle has trouble pumping the blood due to its weakness or thickening.
- Heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm and can potentially lead to lung disease, smaller issues in other organs, or heart failure. In this case, it can even be lethal if untreated.
Causes of heart disease in dogs
There is no one cause of heart disease in dogs, but there are some factors that may make them more prone to develop one of these conditions.
Like people, overweight dogs are more likely to show signs of heart problems.
The risk of developing heart disease also increases with age.
Additionally, some breeds are more prone to these issues than others. For example, chronic valvular disease occurs more often in small breeds, such as miniature poodles, while myocardial disease is more common in bigger dogs, such as Irish wolfhounds.
The most common signs of heart disease in dogs
Dogs can suffer from a common cough caused by various issues, but you should only start to worry if it doesn’t disappear after a couple of days. If that’s the case, you need to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.
Dogs with heart disease may cough for several reasons. When the heart is not pumping efficiently enough, there may be fluid accumulating in the lungs. Another cause is heart enlargement, in which the organ gets so big that it presses the airways.
Dyspnea is a medical term for experiencing difficulty breathing. Dogs with heart disease will breathe more rapidly, or it will seem like it’s harder for them than usual, especially when lying down. If you notice your dog standing bizarrely, with its legs wide apart and neck stretched out, it probably means it’s more difficult for it to breathe.
Your dog may not seem weak all the time, but you should be concerned if you notice it fainting or collapsing suddenly, without any apparent reason. That’s because the malfunction of the heart can affect other organs, including the brain. If the heart is not pumping blood properly, the oxygen and other nutrients won’t be able to reach all the places in your dog’s little body.
If your dog suffers from heart disease, it will become less and less energized. You will notice that it tires more quickly than usual or needs more sleep throughout the day.
All those symptoms mentioned above, as well as others, will lead to changes in the daily behavior of your dog. These may include lack of appetite, reluctance to engage in activities that it used to like, or lethargy.
Heart disease in dogs: Diagnosis and treatment
Since the signs of heart disease are not obvious or unambiguous, you will need to take your dog to a veterinarian to get a diagnosis.
A veterinary specialist can check your dog’s heart in several ways: by performing a stethoscope exam, palpation, X-rays, an EKG, blood, and urine test. The chosen method will depend on your vet’s supposition.
As for the treatment, each dog is treated individually. In some cases, it may be enough to implement the right diet and some exercise. In more severe or developed conditions, a veterinarian can decide to introduce medications.
What Is Congestive Heart Failure?
Congestive Heart Failure, or CHF, is a severe condition that may be developed by dogs with heart disease. It occurs when a heart is already so unwell that it can’t meet the dog’s body’s expectations.
Unfortunately, it is incurable, but some ways can help your dog live a long and happy life. However, if your dog has heart disease, only your veterinarian can decide if the medications are needed.
For most pet owners, a dog is another member of the family and often is treated as such. It is no wonder since it’s almost impossible to find a more loyal and devoted best friend. That’s why dog parents are prepared to spend a lot and make sacrifices to make sure their furry companion stays safe and always eager to play.
It is crucial to get to know your dog. Once you are familiar with its normal behaviors, you will be able to tell as soon as something is wrong and react early enough to help. Please, remember not to make any decisions on your own. Each diagnosis needs to be confirmed by a veterinarian, especially in the case of something as serious as heart disease.
Albert Konik is an animal lover and proud owner of three amazing dogs named Pablo, Fidel, and Bruno. His mission is to turn the world into a better place for animals. He spends his free time traveling, helping at animal shelters, and writing for animal-related blogs.