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Common Signs of Heart Disease in Dogs

Common Signs of Heart Disease in Dogs

Heart disease is a condition in dogs that is essential for dog owners to be able to spot the signs early, and get the treatment their canine companion needs fast. Below, our Lexington vets discuss common signs of heart disease in dogs.

Your Dog's Heart

The heart is an incredibly important organ and any disease that affects the heart is likely to have a negative impact on other organs as well. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to detect heart disease until it has reached a later, more severe stage, but there are some symptoms dog owners should be aware of. 

Common Signs of Heart Disease

The signs of heart disease in dogs are very similar to those in people. The main difference is of course that our canine companions can't tell us how they are feeling, so it's up to us to spot the signs early and get our pet's the urgent veterinary care they need.

If your dog is showing any of the symptoms below, contact your vet right away.

Persistent Cough

  • Your dog could develop a persistent cough if heart disease leads to a buildup of fluid in your dog's lungs. If your dog has a cough that doesn't clear up in a couple of days contact your vet to schedule an examination for your pet.

Fainting or Collapse

  • Often triggered by a persistent cough or exercise, fainting or collapse can occur in dogs suffering from heart disease due to a lack of blood flow to the brain. It's important to note that in some cases, fainting can look like a seizure. Contact your vet immediately if your dog collapses or faints. 

Breathing Difficulties

  • Breathing difficulties and increased rate of breathing are both signs that your dog may be suffering from heart disease. Whenever your pet experiences difficulties breathing urgent veterinary care is required.

Reluctance to Exercise, Play or Climb Stairs

  • Dogs with heart disease will feel weaker than healthy dogs and typically tire out much more easily. If your dog used to have boundless energy but is now showing signs of fatigue, weakness, or reluctance to exercise, heart disease could be the reason.

Abdominal Swelling

  • The appearance of a pot belly caused by abdominal fluid build-up could be an indication that your dog has heart disease. If your dog develops a pot belly schedule an appointment with your vet right away.

Bluish Tinge to Skin

  • When the heart is not working as it should, a lack of oxygen in the blood can occur and result in a bluish tinge to the skin. If you notice that your dog's skin has developed an unusual tinge, either bluish or yellowish (jaundice) veterinary care is essential. 

Uncharacteristic Behaviors

  • A change in demeanor, appetite, or enthusiasm could all indicate that your dog's heart isn't working as it should. Contact your vet to book an appointment.

Diagnosing Heart Disease in Dogs

Early signs of internal medical conditions such as heart disease in dogs can often be spotted by vets during a pet's routine checkup. These routine pet checkups are designed specifically to check for signs of developing conditions so that treatment can begin in the earliest stage, when it is most effective.

If your vet suspects that your dog is suffering from heart disease they may recommend diagnostic testing such as X-rays, cardiac evaluation, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, cardiac catheterization, or blood and urine tests.

Treatment of Heart Disease in Dogs 

Treating heart disease in dogs depends on the underlying cause of the disease. Heart disease can be caused by several things including birth defects, heartworm infection, other bacteria or viral infections, toxins, mineral deficiencies, and tumors. Once heart disease is diagnosed, a treatment plan specific to the type of heart disease your dog has will be discussed.

Many types of heart disease require life-long monitoring with frequent diagnostic testing and medications. Some heart diseases, such as congenital defects, can be corrected by surgery. 

Preventing Heart Disease in Dogs

Heart disease can be difficult to prevent. Sometimes you can do everything right and your dog could still be diagnosed with heart disease. 

A few things you can do to help reduce your dog's risk of heart disease, include:

  • Keeping your dog on preventive heartworm medication 
  • Feeding your dog a healthy diet
  • Ensuring that your dog gets the right level of daily exercise for their age, breed, and size
  • Helping your dog maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoiding exposure to toxins and contaminated areas 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog showing signs of heart disease? Contact our vets in Lexington to have your dog examined.

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Bluegrass Veterinary Specialists + Animal Emergency is open 24/7 for emergencies and is accepting patients for specialty appointments. Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Lexington companion animals. 

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