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Everything You Need to Know About Heart Diseases in Dogs

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 diseases in dogs don’t just go away on their own, and in some cases, they may be life-long and life-threatening.

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

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

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.

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 & other vital substances to different parts of the 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 Diseases in Dogs

Heart diseases 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 help better your fur-baby’s quality of life.

Different Heart Diseases Diagnosed in Dogs

CONGENITAL HEART CONDITIONS

Congenital heart conditions are heart diseases 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. 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 that 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 Dog Heart Diseases

There are no specific ways to keeping 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. 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® Multivitamins SoftSupps® are one of the most trusted and recommended. Pet Parents® Multivitamins 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.

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.

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"Pet Parents® Multivitamins 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."

Be aware, and educated about heart diseases in dogs. The earlier you intercept a potential symptom, the happier and healthier your dog will be.

The Author:

Micka Virtudazo

Micka Virtudazo is a full-time content creator at Pet Parents who lives with thirteen adorable American Bullies and a Shih Tzu-Maltese mix named Gretel. She especially enjoys writing how-to articles as she feels through this she can connect to other pet parents on a more personal level.

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