While some dog breeds are more prone to heart disease, it is a condition that can, unfortunately, affect any dog. Several different heart diseases can affect dogs, and it’s a good idea to get to know the signs and causes of these diseases so you can identify and start treating them as early as possible.
Around 10% of all dogs in the United States, almost 8 million, suffer from heart disease. While there are various causes of heart disease, including breed genetics, obesity, and nutrition, old age is the most common time for dogs to develop heart problems. The older your dog is, the higher the risk, and up to 75% of senior dogs have a heart condition of some kind. Unfortunately, a large percentage of these diseases go undetected and can quickly develop into a serious problem.
In this article, we look at the cause, signs, and treatment of heart disease in dogs, as well as the different types of heart issues that they can suffer from.
Common Types of Heart Disease in Dogs
This is one of the most common types of heart disease in dogs. Chronic valvular disease affects the way the blood is pumped around the body. The valves that act like doors between the valves of the heart stop working properly, usually by leaking, and cause turbulent blood flow that creates a murmur. These can be graded on a scale of 1 to 6.
Myocardial disease is the weakening and abnormal function of heart muscles, which can decrease the ability of the heart to pump blood efficiently.
Some dogs are born with heart problems; these are called congenital abnormalities and are generally linked to their breed. The most common of these heart diseases include patent ductus arteriosus, pulmonic and aortic stenosis, persistent right aortic arch, and ventricular septal defect.
Signs of Heart Disease in Dogs
There are several other, less common heart problems that dogs can suffer from. However, no matter the specific illness, most of them share common signs that can alert you that there’s an issue at hand. Signs include:
Causes of Heart Disease in Dogs
While there is usually no single cause of heart disease, breed and age have arguably the biggest roles to play. Senior dogs are most likely to develop heart disease, and certain breeds are very prone to specific heart diseases. Common breeds affected by heart diseases include:
This is why reputable breeders always screen purebred dogs that they intend to breed, to try to pick up any heart defects before they are passed on. This, combined with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and most importantly, regular vet visits, will go a long way in the prevention of heart disease.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Heart Disease in Dogs
If you’ve noticed any signs in your dog, it’s important to take them for a checkup with the vet immediately. Your vet will perform several diagnostic tests to determine whether there is an issue with the heart, including:
While heart disease is a serious matter, in most cases, your dog can live a fulfilled and long life if the issue is caught on time and you follow your vet’s or cardiologist’s instructions. The treatment usually consists of a combination of different medications, exercise modification, treating any underlying issue, such as heartworm, or a change in diet. For some congenital conditions, surgery may be required, but this is not as common as you’d imagine.
While the majority of the time heart disease can’t be reversed, with careful management, most dogs can live a relatively normal life. Your vet will help you take the steps to properly manage the disease, and it is essential that you work alongside them.
Heart disease in your beloved pooch can be a terrifying prospect, but luckily, in most cases, it can be managed so that your dog can have an excellent quality of life. Be especially vigilant if your dog belongs to a breed predisposed to heart disease. If you catch the signs early and start treatment promptly, they are more likely to live a relatively normal life for many years. Unfortunately, heart disease can be breed-related. That is why responsible breeding is essential to minimize these conditions in future generations.
- Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
- Are Heart Murmurs Genetic in Dogs? What You Need To Know!
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay