Everything You Need to Know About Heart Diseases in Dogs

Updated: February 27, 2024

When we think about dog’s hearts, we think how big it is—full of love and loyalty. However, when we think about it, our dog’s hearts are a source of concern, as just like us, our fur-babies can suffer from heart diseases, too.

According to MSD Veterinary Manual, a little more than 10% of pets examined by vets have some underlying cardiovascular diseases. Unlike any other illnesses, heart disease in dogs will not just go away over time and in some cases, it may be life-long and life-threatening.

In this article, we’ll talk about heart disease in dogs, the different types of dog heart diseases, the signs your dog may have one, and what you can do to help treat & prevent it.

"Heart disease in dogs can be referred to as any abnormality of the heart and its functions."

Overview: Heart Disease in Dogs

Heart diseases in dogs can be referred to as any abnormality of the heart and its functions. They consist of an array of different complicated situations, like congenital abnormalities and acquired heart problems. Dog heart diseases may be short- or long-term and require immediate treatment & management. There are certain dog breeds prone to heart disease as well, so be sure to research your breed before buying.

The heart is one of the most important organs in the body. The heart’s major functions include pumping oxygenated blood to other body parts, pumping hormones and other vital substances to the different parts of the dog’s body, receiving deoxygenated blood, and carrying metabolic waste products from the body & pumping it to the lungs for oxygenation.

An issue concerning your fur-baby’s heart is something you should deal with immediately.

Common Signs of Heart Disease in Dogs

Heart disease in dogs may appear so suddenly or may take some time for signs to actually be visible. If your fur-baby shows one or more of these common heart diseases symptoms, it’s best you consult your vet about it as soon as possible.

  • Weakness, lethargy
  • Sudden onset of breathing difficulties
  • Dry cough that often attacks during the night or after any physical activity
  • Distended abdomen
  • Restlessness
  • Sudden and fast weight loss in just a few weeks
  • Fainting
  • Collapse

But the majority of the cases of heart diseases in dogs have no immediate symptoms, so your best bet to determine if your dog has any underlying heart problems is to have them scheduled for regular checkups.

According to Purina, Jonathan Abbott, a Cardiologist at the Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, mentions that there are a couple of ways vets do to diagnose heart diseases in dogs. These include chest X-rays, electrocardiography, and cardiac ultrasound. Your veterinarian will also be able to listen to any heart murmurs or perform a blood test to check if there is any heartworm infestation. Once your vet has identified the right diagnosis, they will suggest the proper treatment plan and management to help better your fur-baby’s quality of life.

Different Heart Diseases Diagnosed in Dogs

The general dosage of Benadryl, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual, is 2-4 milligrams of medication per kilogram of weight or 0.9 to 1.8 milligrams per body pound. This dosage can be given two to three times daily, greatly depending on the severeness of your fur-baby’s allergy symptoms.

Congenital Heart Conditions

Congenital heart disease in dogs is heart disease that is already present from birth. These diseases may be a result of bad breeding, a breed’s susceptibility, or a breed’s condition being passed down. These include:

  • Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy. This is a disease that damages the cardiac muscles and weakens the heart’s function to deliver adequate pressure to be able to pump blood all throughout the body. Many studies conclude that this condition can be considered genetic, but can also be caused by poor nutrition and recurring infections. Dog breeds prone to heart disease should be checked regularly for this condition. Some breeds predisposed to this disease include Cocker Spaniels, Boxers, and Great Danes.
  • Heart Murmurs. For puppies, it is very important to note that murmurs do not always mean they are suffering from congenital heart problems. Heart murmurs heard in pups typically go away by the time they are six months. However, if the murmuring continues as they grow older, this should prompt you to consult your vet for further tests.

Acquired Heart Conditions

Acquired heart conditions are heart diseases that dogs develop or acquire over time as a result of poor nutrition, unhealthy lifestyle, aging, and the like. Some of these diseases include:

  • Canine Valvular Disease. This disease takes place when your fur-baby’s heart valves begin to weaken and leak.
  • Pericardial disease. Another heart disease that can be acquired by your fur-baby is pericardial. This happens when the sac that is surrounding the heart is filled with fluid, creating an effect on your fur-baby’s heartbeat.
  • Arrhythmias. This occurs when an issue involving the dog’s electrical system develops and creates problems with how your fur-baby’s heart is beating.
  • Heartworm infestation. Heartworms are one of the most common worms found in dogs, the most worrisome but the most treatable. Your dog can get heartworms through bites of infected mosquitos. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it takes at least 6 to 7 months for the infective larvae in a recently infected dog to mature into heartworms.

Managing and Preventing Heart Disease in Dogs

There are no specific ways to ensure you keep your fur-baby away from acquiring or developing heart diseases. But there are always ways to help your dog live a happier, healthier life.

  • Schedule regular checkups. As mentioned, you will never know when a heart problem is coming or if your fur-baby already has acquired one. The only sure thing to do is to have them go in for regular checkups. During these checkups, your vet will perform different tests to look after your dog’s health and check if they have any underlying health conditions. For concerns of the heart, your veterinarian may try to listen if there are any murmurs, perform chest ultrasounds, and take blood tests to check for heartworms.
  • Provide added nutrition. Your fur-baby's nutrition is the foundation of their health, so make sure that you are feeding them properly. It’s always a good idea to provide them daily with supplements that are able to help them fight off heart diseases. Among the many options in the market, Pet Parents® Multifunctional SoftSupps® are one of the most trusted and recommended. Multifunctional SoftSupps® contain Heart Complex that includes Folic Acid & Coenzyme Q10, a pure compound. These chews help promote normal heart circulation and strengthen normal cardiovascular functions. These are beneficial for any dog to help keep a healthy heart, but are especially important if you own a dog breed prone to heart disease.
  • Exercise. Exercise offers more benefits to your dog than you can imagine. Exercising helps tone your dog’s muscles, strengthens body metabolism, stimulates them physically & mentally, and improves heart health. While exercise is important, limit the number & intensity of activities you involve your dog in if they have been diagnosed with heart disease already.
  • Turmeric. Turmeric supports a healthy cardiovascular function. It helps to lower bad cholesterol in dogs and reduce the risk of possible blood clots. Turmeric and Curcumin SoftSupps® supplements are a great choice to help keep your dog’s heart running its best. These high-quality supplements are created in the highest level, FDA inspected and GMP-approved safe quality food facility to ensure the best for your fur-baby.

Be aware and educated about heart diseases in dogs so that you can know the signs of heart disease in dogs. Some forms of heart disease are genetic or present from birth, however, there are ways you can help prevent other forms of heart disease in dogs by providing a healthy lifestyle. Be sure to contact your vet with any concerns regarding your fur-baby's heart. The earlier you intercept a potential symptom, the happier and healthier your dog will be.

"Multifunctional SoftSupps® promote normal heart circulation and strengthen normal cardiovascular functions."

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