Recognizing heart disease

While the human mortality rate from heart disease is in a decline, it is climbing at an astonishing rate in our dogs. Much of this rise can ironically be attributed to modern nutrition and medicine that helps dogs live longer lives, which in turn increases their chances of developing heart disease.

The general types of heart disease in dogs are:

  • Heart valve problems, the most common. A dog’s heart valve thickens and leaks when the heart pumps.
  • Heartworm disease. As the name implies, worms lodging in the dog’s heart cause the disease. Mosquitoes carry the disease.
  • Arrhythmia, irregular heartbeats caused by the malfunction of the hearts electrical control system, the pacemaker.
  • Inflammation (myocarditis), caused by an infection of heart muscles or of the lining of the heart.
  • Blockages of the heart arteries can kill some of the heart muscles. This disease is rare in dogs.
  • Some heart diseases are caused by birth defects.

You should acquaint yourself with some general symptoms of heart disease, such as coughing, fatigue, loss of appetite, body swelling, a bluish tongue, restlessness, or a rapid or extremely slow heart beat. If you notice any of these signs in your dog, consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Most heart disease in dogs can be kept under control with proper medication and care. Your veterinarian is the best one to advise you on treatment for your dog.

Source: Adapted from The American Animal Hospital Association