Dogs get heart disease too. Dog heart disease is very common in older dogs. About 10% of all dogs have heart disease. All the factors that influence dog’s heart health can’t be controlled. We can learn about common canine cardiac diseases that will help us recognize and deal with them if they occur.
Heart disease in dogs falls into two broad categories:
Congenital are those that are present at birth.
Acquired are those that develop after birth.
Dogs have a genetic predisposition for either type.
The vast majority of of canine heart ailments are acquired diseases. The two leading causes of heart failure in dogs are dilated cardiomyopathy and degenerative valve disease . Symptoms appear slowly and gradually worsen in both cases, resulting in heart failure in dogs, rather than dog heart attack.
Degenerative valvular heart disease is a lumpy thickening and malformation of the heart valves, which keeps them from closing properly. This causes blood to leak backwards, decreasing the efficiency of the heart and causes a build up of fluid in the lungs or abdomen. This is the most common canine heart disease. It can occur in any dog, but affects small breed dogs that are older.
Dog heart disease symptoms are minimal in the early stages. Later stage symptoms are coughing, difficulty breathing, abdominal distension, and exercise intolerance, which are all signs of heart failure.
Treatment involves managing the disease. Degeneration of the heart valves can not be stopped. Treatment consists of medication to increase heart efficiency and decrease fluid accumulation in the lungs and abdomen. A low sodium diet can be given to reduce fluid retention.
Dilated cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that causes progressive loss of pumping ability. The heart walls become thin and flabby.
The cause is unknown, but some breeds have an inherited predisposition for it. It can be caused by a deficiency of taurine or carnitine, amino acids required for proper development and function of the heart muscle.
Cardiomyopathy affects large breeds, but can occur in small breeds. It strikes in middle age dogs and affects males more than females.
Symptoms are weakness, collapse, exercise intolerance, coughing, difficulty breathing, and abdominal distension.
Treatment involves increasing the heart’s pumping ability and decreasing fluid build up in the lungs and abdomen. It can not be cured. Fluid accumulation can be reduced by a low sodium diet.
Around 60-80 percent of affected dogs will die within one year of diagnosis.
Keeping your dog’s heart healthy with moderate exercise on a regular basis is very important.