Heart disease is a common internal medical condition in dogs so it's essential for pet parents to be able to spot the signs early, and get the treatment their four-legged friend needs fast. Below, our Mechanicsburg vets discuss common signs of heart disease in dogs.
Your Dog's Heart
The heart is a vital organ, and any disease that affects it is likely to have a negative impact on other organs as well. Unfortunately, heart disease is often difficult to detect until it has progressed to a later, more severe stage, but there are some symptoms dog owners should be aware of. It's also worth noting that some breeds are more susceptible to heart disease than others. Before purchasing a dog, always research breed-specific issues to ensure you are prepared to handle any potential health complications.
Common Signs of Heart Disease to Watch For
Heart disease symptoms in dogs are very similar to those in humans. The main difference is that our four-legged friends can't tell us how they're feeling, so it's up to us to recognize the warning signs and get our pets the emergency veterinary care they require.
If your dog is showing any of the symptoms below, contact your vet right away.
- If your dog's heart disease causes a buildup of fluid in his lungs, he may develop a persistent cough. If your dog's cough does not go away after a few days, contact your veterinarian to schedule an examination.
Fainting or Collapse
- Fainting or collapse can occur in dogs suffering from heart disease due to a lack of blood flow to the brain, which is often triggered by a persistent cough or exercise. It's important to note that fainting can mimic a seizure in some cases. If your dog collapses or faints, call your veterinarian right away.
- Breathing difficulties and an increased rate of breathing are both indicators that your dog has heart disease. When your pet has difficulty breathing, immediate veterinary care is required.
Reluctance to Exercise, Play or Climb Stairs
- Heart disease causes dogs to feel weaker than healthy dogs and causes them to tire out much more easily. If your dog used to be full of energy but is now showing signs of fatigue, weakness, or aversion to exercise, heart disease may be the cause.
- A pot belly caused by abdominal fluid buildup could be an indication that your dog has heart disease. Make an appointment with your veterinarian right away if your dog develops a pot belly.
Bluish Tinge to Skin
- When the heart does not function properly, a lack of oxygen in the blood can occur, resulting in a bluish tinge on the skin. If you notice that your dog's skin has taken on an unusual bluish or yellowish tinge (jaundice), seek veterinary care immediately.
- Something is wrong if your dog's personality changes for no apparent reason. A change in demeanor, appetite, or enthusiasm may all indicate that your dog's heart isn't functioning properly. Make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Diagnosing Heart Disease in Dogs
Early signs of internal medical conditions such as heart disease in dogs can often be spotted by vets during a pet's wellness exam. These routine pet checkups are designed specifically to check for signs of developing conditions so that treatment can begin in the earliest stages when it is most effective.
If your vet believes that your dog is suffering from heart disease they may recommend diagnostic testing such as X-rays, EKGs, or blood and urine tests.
Treatment of Heart Disease in Dogs
The treatment of canine heart disease is dependent on the underlying cause of the disease. Birth defects, heartworm infection, other bacteria or viral infections, toxins, mineral deficiencies, and tumors are all potential causes of heart disease. Once heart disease has been diagnosed, a treatment plan tailored to your dog's specific type of heart disease will be discussed.
Many types of heart disease require life-long monitoring with frequent diagnostic testing and medications. Some heart diseases, such as congenital defects, can be corrected by surgery.
Preventing Heart Disease in Dogs
Heart disease can be difficult to prevent. Sometimes you can do everything right and your dog could still be diagnosed with heart disease.
That said, there are a few things you can do to help reduce your pup's risk of heart disease, including:
- Keeping your dog on preventive heartworm medication
- Feeding your dog quality dog food—you can discuss with your vet the best diet for your particular dog
- Ensuring that your dog gets the right level of daily exercise for their age, breed, and size
- Helping your dog maintain a healthy weight
- Avoiding exposure to toxins and contaminated areas
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.