Everything You Need To Know About Heart Disease In Dogs

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Dogs, like humans, have many different medical problems, but those that affect the heart and lungs are the most common. Humans have many different causes of heart disease, such as high blood pressure and congenital heart disease. Just as there are many causes of heart disease in humans, there are many different causes of heart disease in dogs.

Heart disease in dogs is a serious condition that impacts about 1 in 3 dogs during their lifetime. It’s a condition that if undetected can lead to sudden death. Sudden death in dogs due to heart disease is very common, and owners should take immediate action if their dog shows any signs of illness.

5 Most Common Heart Diseases in Dogs

Heart Disease In Dogs

Heart disease is a common, and potentially life-threatening condition that affects many dogs. For some breeds, the risk of developing heart disease is up to 40 percent. The 5 most common types of heart disease in dogs are:

1. Cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy is a disease that affects the heart muscle. It is one of the most common types of heart disease in dogs. It is also the most common cause of sudden death in dogs younger than 3 years old. Cardiomyopathy is characterized by a thickening of the heart muscle, which causes the heart to fill with fluid. This thickening of the heart muscle puts a lot of stress on it, causing the heart to beat faster than usual.

The most important thing to know about cardiomyopathy is that it is a progressive condition. This means that cardiomyopathy will usually get worse and worse over time.

2. Congenital Heart Defects

Heart disease is a common problem in dogs. The most serious heart problems are congenital (present at birth) defects that are not curable. Congenital defects can be either minor or severe, but all can lead to life-threatening consequences if not treated. Even with treatment, some dogs may still die from the congenital defect. Causes of congenital heart defects are both genetic and environmental. One of the most serious congenital heart defects is a ventricular septal defect, a hole in the muscle wall of the heart.

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3. Valvular Disease

The valvular disease accounts for a significant percentage of canine heart disease. It is essential to be able to recognize the symptoms of this debilitating condition and take immediate steps to diagnose the problem.

Valvular heart disease is one of the most common forms of canine heart disease, but it can be difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms are similar to those of other, less serious issues. The two most commonly diagnosed problems with valvular heart disease are aortic stenosis and mitral valve prolapse.

4. Infective Endocarditis

Infective endocarditis, also known as IE, is a disease in which there is infection and inflammation of the endocardium (inner lining of the heart). It’s caused by bacteria that enter the bloodstream and then attach to the inside surface of the heart’s valves. The bacteria produces deposits called vegetations, which can go on to destroy the valve.

Endocarditis can be either acute or chronic. In acute endocarditis, the disease shows symptoms within the first two weeks. Acute endocarditis requires emergency treatment. Chronic endocarditis occurs when the bacteria is still present in the body but does not cause symptoms. It usually requires treatment for a long time.

5. Heart Arrhythmias

In order to have a healthy heart, it is important that the heart rate never drops below 60 beats per minute. A dog experiencing arrhythmia will typically show symptoms related to their heart rate dropping. Symptoms of arrhythmia in dogs include: panting, coughing, and/or gagging. If your dog has these symptoms, it is important that you take them to see a vet who can evaluate their heart. Other symptoms are mild or mild: swelling of the ankles, feet, and fingers; and gaining weight.

Symptoms Of Heart Disease In Dogs

It is important to know the symptoms of your dog’s heart disease, as it will help determine the best course of action. Heart disease is a major killer in dogs, but there are ways to catch it early and reduce the risk of serious damage. If your dog has experienced any of these symptoms, it may be time to bring him or her in for a check-up.

Heart failure means that the heart muscle cannot pump enough blood throughout the body. Symptoms of heart failure in dogs can include: breathing loudly through their nose, coughing, vomiting, fatigue, lack of appetite, panting, exercise intolerance, edema of the legs or abdomen, enlarged heart on x-ray, and weight gain.

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If you notice any of the following symptoms, it is important to see a veterinarian as soon as possible to determine the cause.

Diagnosing Heart Disease In Dogs

Heart Disease In Dogs

Dog owners may not know how to tell if their pet is suffering from heart disease. The best way to diagnose the illness is through an electrocardiogram (ECG). An ECG records the electrical activity of the heart and can measure the animal’s heart rate and rhythm. This information will allow a vet to identify any irregularities or discover possible problems with the heart, such as a valve leakage, which could lead to congestive heart failure.

One of the most common methods is a blood test that measures electrolytes because electrolyte imbalances can be an indication of congestive heart failure. A veterinarian will perform a physical examination, listen to the animal’s chest, and take x-rays.

Treatment for Heart Disease in Dogs

Heart disease is a serious issue that is often left untreated for long periods of time with the assumption that it will not be life-threatening. There are many different types of treatments for heart disease which can ultimately lead to an increased quality of life and decreased mortality rates. The three major types of treatment for heart disease are lifestyle modifications, medications, and surgery.

  • Lifestyle modifications include first getting the animal to exercise more, but also reducing stress and decreasing the risk of obesity. The best animal to practice this with is the terrier, as they excel in agility programs and can focus on their work.
  • Medications are the best way to control the symptoms of heart disease. The three most common types of medications are diuretics, beta-blockers, and ACE inhibitors. The goal is to provide the best care to the animal.
  • Surgery is inevitable in some cases of heart disease. It is a major undertaking that is entirely dependent on the age and the severity of the disease. Surgery may be necessary as symptom control, to repair a leaking heart valve, or to correct an abnormality. The goal is to get the heart to beat correctly and the animal to live a normal life, but whether or not it will be successful depends on the type and severity of the heart disease.

How To Prevent Dogs From Heart Disease

Heart Disease In Dogs

Many people think that their dog will never get heart disease because they are not taking human food. The truth is, many dogs suffer from heart disease in their later years. To prevent your dog from getting it, you need to feed them the same food every day and not just scraps of what you are eating for dinner. It’s also important to keep an eye on their weight. Don’t let them get overweight because that can lead to other health problems like diabetes and high cholesterol.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long do dogs live with heart disease?

Dogs can live long and healthy lives even with heart disease. The best-case scenario is dogs living 12-18 months after diagnosis. Some dogs can live up to 10 years also. Healthy dogs should naturally live longer than dogs with heart disease. Dogs must be monitored closely their entire life by a veterinarian. A vet who specializes in cardiology for early detection and treatment. Heart disease is often manageable and not always fatal if it is caught early enough.

What are the symptoms of a dog dying from heart failure?

Heart failure in dogs can be caused by a number of different issues. The most common symptom is the inability to pump enough blood through the body. This can be seen as a loss of stamina, a rapid heartbeat, a swollen belly from receiving too much fluid from the kidneys, and some difficulty breathing. If any one of these symptoms occurs on more than one occasion, it is potentially time to take your dog to an animal hospital as soon as possible.

Is heart disease painful for dogs?

Heart disease is painful for dogs. The pain shows behavioral changes such as reluctance to eat or even play, lying around during resting hours, increased restlessness. It also includes increased activity level at night, decreased coping abilities with stressors like exercise, and loss of appetite.

What are the 4 stages of congestive heart failure?

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a disease in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. CHF can be acute or chronic. It is characterized by symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, and fluid buildup in the lungs. There are four stages of CHF that are congestion, fluid retention, reduced heart function, and finally irreversible heart damage.

What dog breeds are prone to heart disease?

Like humans, different dog breeds have a variety of health risks. Some dog breeds are more prone to heart disease than others. Boxers, bulldogs, and Dobermans have many heart problems. Other common breeds that are prone to heart disease include Bernese mountain dogs, American Staffordshire terriers, and English bull terriers.

How can I make my dog comfortable with heart disease?

Caring for a dog with heart disease, also known as congestive heart failure, can be difficult. There are many ways you can help make your dog more comfortable and less anxious during this time. It includes taking it out for short walks, limiting its exercise to brief exercises, feeding a high-quality diet that is appropriate for your dog’s condition, and administering the prescribed medication as needed.


If your dog is exhibiting symptoms that are concerning for heart disease, contact your veterinarian immediately. If left untreated, the disease will continue to progress and worsen over time. Dogs are more prone to heart-related health problems than humans are. There are many signs to look out for including chronic coughing, difficulty breathing, fatigue, exercise intolerance, and many others.

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