Dogs can have develop heart disease, too, and though its effects play out differently in canines, it can still be lethal. Among the more common heart problems that dogs can suffer from is congestive heart failure. Congestive heart failure occurs when there is a significant decrease in the heart’s capability to pump blood to the rest of the body.
Here are other common heart-related conditions in dogs:
Arrhythmias in dogs occur when the body’s electrical system malfunctions. Once this happens, there could be unhealthy changes in the heartbeat pattern of your dog.
Chronic valvular disease occurs when the valves of a dog’s heart deteriorate and begin to leak because of aging.
Pericardial disease manifests when the protective sac of a dog’s heart gets filled with fluid. When this happens, the heartbeat becomes abnormal.
Causes of Heart Disease in Dogs
Some heart conditions in dogs are congenital defects, meaning they were born with the condition. However, most heart disease in dogs is considered “acquired.” About 95 percent of heart disease in dogs is due to infection, injury, or aging. Middle-aged and older dogs are mostly the ones who suffer from acquired heart disease.
When to see a Vet
Here are a few warning signs that a dog may experience that should alert you to contact your veterinarian:
- Dog suffers dry cough after exercise or that worsens in the evening
- Dog experiences shortness of breath, fainting spells and swollen abdomen
- Dog gets easily fatigued and loses weight rapidly
Diagnosis and Treatment of Heart Disease in Dogs
Once a dog visits a veterinarian and is suspected to have a heart condition, the vet will conduct a thorough exam which includes getting a medical history from the pet owner. This is why it is important to write down observations about your pet’s symptoms. You never know when something may contribute to narrowing down a diagnosis. Depending on the symptoms, a veterinarian may also conduct urine and blood tests, echocardiogram (ultrasound test measuring the blood flow through the heart), and/or x-rays.
Of course prevention is far better than treatment. The things that keep dogs’ hearts healthy tend to be the same things that work for human hearts. Feed your dog a healthy diet, give them frequent opportunities to exercise, and take them to the vet at least once a year for a check up.