Because heart disease can be either congenital (condition present at birth) or acquired (condition developed over time), even puppies and younger dogs may have cardiac issues. Our pets often don’t display symptoms of heart disease right away. Having your dog regularly checked by a primary care veterinarian will help you detect or prevent heart problems in your canine companion. And when heart-related issues are diagnosed, CVCA Cardiac Care for Pets is your specialist resource with offices in Maryland, Virginia, Texas, Oregon & Kentucky.
There’s no single cause of heart disease in dogs. Aging, obesity, breed, and nutrition can all play a role. Heart valve problems are the most common issue and typically affect small breed dogs that are five years or older.
No matter what heart condition your dog has, it’s important to spot the signs early. Since 95% of heart conditions in dogs come on as they age, it’s easier to manage as soon as it develops.
Two Main Heart Conditions in Dogs
At CVCA Cardiac Care for Pets, we see a lot of different heart conditions in dogs, but the following are the two most common.
Mitral regurgitation, a valve disease, is a common cause of a heart murmur in dogs. Blood flow becomes turbulent and creates the murmur. Murmurs are graded on a scale of 1-6… the higher the number, the more obvious the murmur. Your dog can lead a normal life with a heart murmur. A board-certified dog cardiologist can diagnose and help treat the condition.
Heart Muscle Disease
DCM, or dilated cardiomyopathy, is the most common form of heart muscle disease. With DCM the muscles degenerate and begin to wear thin. That thinning decreases the heart’s ability to contract and pump blood, and leads to congestive heart failure. DCM in dogs is irreversible but can be controlled through medications available through your board-certified dog cardiologist.
Because They’re Part of the Family
Nearly 8 million dogs suffer from heart disease. That’s 10% of all dogs in the United States. And the older your dog is, the higher the risk. Up to 75% of senior dogs have some type of heart condition, and unfortunately, most go undetected.
Don’t risk losing part of your family to an often treatable heart condition. If you have concerns, seek medical advice quickly. Our board-certified dog cardiologists are here to help.
If you have concerns about your dog and heart disease, it’s best to reach out to a pet cardiologist near you to get a clear diagnosis and treatment plan. CVCA has several locations in Maryland, Kentucky, Texas, Oregon, and Virginia. Give us a call, and we will set up one or all of the following:
Physical exam – including listening to the heart and lungs, checking your dog’s blood pressure and maybe a blood test.
Electrocardiogram (ECG) – to measure electrical activity of your dog’s heart to find heart rhythm problems.
Echocardiogram – ultrasound by a board-certified vet cardiologist to view your dog’s heart in great detail. This test is the gold standard for diagnosing heart disease in dogs.
Signs of Heart Failure in Dogs
Signs that your dog might have heart disease include:
Coughing and difficulty breathing
Getting more tired on walks or when playing
Weakness and/or collapse
Bloating / swelling of the abdomen (belly)
Sudden onset of back leg weakness or paralysis
Treatment of Dog Heart Disease
With treatment, your dog will live better and longer. In most cases, drugs are the main way to treat heart disease in dogs. Other treatment types include diet changes, weight loss and occasionally surgery.
Read about other heart diseases in dogs by clicking on the links below. If you have concerns about your dog, schedule an exam as soon as possible. Remember, early detection is the key to a longer life for your dog. Our board-certified dog cardiologists are just a phone call away.