Symptoms of Heart Disease in Dog

Symptoms of Heart Disease in Dog

Symptoms of Heart Disease in Dog: The dreaded heart attack of the big pump is one of the most common causes of death in humans, especially in stressed managers. “Dogs are fed differently, they do not tend to harden their arteries. Stress cannot harm their hearts,” explains the animal cardiologist.

Heart disease in dogs is often genetic. In some races they are more common. Boxers or Dobermanns often suffer from a pathological enlargement of the heart muscle, medically: from dilated cardiomyopathy. The limp heart muscle lacks the strength to supply the entire body with fresh oxygen. Such four-legged patients are threatened with death in seconds. The animals suddenly fall over without the owner being able to notice the slightest sign of illness.

How do Dogs with Heart Disease Behave?

Most heart defects are discovered by accident, when they are presented for vaccination or at the annual health check-up. Typical symptoms usually only appear at an advanced stage, when the heart defect can no longer be compensated by the body’s own mechanisms, so that if the animal owner notices something, the disease is already relatively far advanced.

Chronic heart disease dogs are tired, they don’t like to move, hardly any argument lets them come out of their basket voluntarily. When going for a walk every day, they pull on the leash – but in the direction of home. They pant more, can cough and let thrown sticks be sticks. If they manage to chase after themselves, they’ll run out of air. Water can accumulate in the deepest points of the body, so-called edema: in the abdomen, in the legs or in the lungs. As the heart’s strength dwindles, the mucous membranes and tongue appear blue. If there is a lack of oxygen in the brain, fainting is not unlikely.

What are the Causes of Heart Disease?

Are the circumstances to blame? Some heart diseases in dogs only appear in the course of life. Mostly in the middle age between five and nine years. The reasons for that are complex. The lifestyle so often cited in humans seems to play a subordinate role in dogs. A lack of exercise or being overweight do not have the same consequences for our sofa wolf.


Diet errors can be a cause: “Taurine deficiency is more common than it is diagnosed, The breakdown product of amino acids is important for the heart metabolism. Bared dogs that are fed exclusively raw are exposed to a certain risk, but so are animals with sensitive gastrointestinal systems that are given a rice and lamb diet for a long time. The Cocker Spaniel in particular develops heart disease caused by a lack of taurine, even if its food appears to contain sufficient taurine.

Which Food is Best for Your Dog?

If your four-legged friend suffers from a general bacterial infection, if things go badly, the pathogens can travel via the bloodstream to the heart and trigger an infection there. Dental diseases, which were previously identified as the cause of heart disease in dogs, are no longer under suspicion.

Which Breeds are Often Affected?

Small breeds such as miniature poodles, twig schnauzers, Yorkshire terriers and dachshunds are particularly likely to have heart valve disease (atrioventricular valve endocardiosis). The older a dog, the more likely it is to have heart disease. Around ten percent of five to eight year olds and 25 percent of nine to twelve year olds and even 35 percent of dogs over 13 are affected.

Scientists assume that it is a connective tissue weakness. Due to the connective tissue changes in the heart valves, they no longer close properly and blood can flow back into the atria from the right or left ventricle. The disease usually progresses slowly over the years, so that symptoms of the disease that are noticeable to the owner generally only appear at the age of about six to nine years.

Among the giants, great Danes, Newfoundland dogs, St. Bernard dogs and Irish wolfhounds are affected. Rottweilers, shepherds and large mixed breeds are represented among the big ones. This form also occurs in Leonbergers, Setters and Afghans. A genetic predisposition has been demonstrated in Doberman and Boxer. But smaller breeds like Cocker Spaniels, Springer Spaniels, and Foxhounds can also get the disease. A noticeable accumulation was observed in individual breeding lines.

In dilated cardiomyopathy, the heart loses its strength and the heart muscles are weak. Cardiac arrhythmias often occur in the course of the disease, which in some cases can lead to sudden cardiac death. Heart medications can support the heart.

Can Breeders Curb Heart Disease?

Even if the acquired heart disease does not appear in the dog until the middle of the dog’s life, the foundation is often already laid at birth. Many are genetic, some races are more affected. The first symptoms usually appear at the age of five, sometimes not until seven or new years old. That makes it so difficult to eliminate affected animals from breeding. Because the disease is only discovered when the dogs have long been used for breeding.

Annual Health Checks:

Regular checks at the vaccination and a health check every year are particularly important for dog breeds with a tendency to heart ailments and elderly specimens of all breeds. If abnormalities are found, further investigations should be initiated. For example, a long-term electrocardiogram over 24 hours can be performed for the early diagnosis of dilated cardiomyopathy in Doberman or Boxers. In this way, even minor cardiac arrhythmias can be discovered. For some breeds such as the Irish Wolfhound, Hovawart, Boxer, Newfoundland, Medium Schnauzer, Doberman, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or the Polski Owczarek Nizinny, examinations are required before starting breeding. The results of the health checks are made available to the breed clubs.

Heart Disease in Puppies:

Usually an irregularity of the dog’s heart is discovered purely by chance during a routine examination. One of the most common congenital heart defects is a pathological connection between the body artery (aorta), which pumps blood into the body’s circulation, and the pulmonary artery, which carries the red vital substance into the lungs: the persistent ductus arteriosus Botalli. This connection is normal during embryonic development, but in the healthy animal it should close with the first breaths.

What do Watery Eyes Mean in Dogs?

By the way:Innate is not to be equated with inherited. Environmental influences, poisons, diseases of the mother or certain medications that affect the mother during pregnancy can also lead to developmental disorders or malformations in the unborn child. If a puppy is born with a heart malformation, the owners may not notice anything immediately.

The changes in the heart often go undetected at first, and the little bustle develops quite normally. Only with severe heart defects do the puppies behave noticeably calm and grow only slowly. But sooner or later all affected dogs will show symptoms such as poor performance, increased panting or coughing fits. Heart valve abnormalities (subaortic stenosis,

Which Races are Affected by This?

Large breeds such as Newfoundland dogs, Rottweilers, Golden Retrievers, Boxers or German Shepherds often suffer from congenital constriction (stenosis) at the transition from the heart to the aorta (subaortic stenosis). The constriction acts like an obstacle to flow, which leads to a dangerous increase in pressure in the heart.

If the constriction is severe, the dog’s children grow slower, they tire quickly, and some faint at regular intervals. Tragic: Often times the puppies show no signs of heart disease and still suddenly die in front of their owners. Therapy: Severe stenoses must be treated with medication. If left untreated, 70 percent of dogs with severe stenoses die in the first three years of life.

Medium to small breeds such as Beagle, Samoyed, Chihuahua, English Bulldog, Miniature Schnauzer, Chow Chow, Basset, West Highland White Terriers, Fox Terriers, and other terrier and cockerel breeds are more likely to develop pulmonary stenosis. Some large dogs such as Labrador Retrievers, Newfoundlands, Boxers, and Mastiffs are also affected. In pulmonary stenosis, the path from the heart to the pulmonary artery is narrowed. The main focus here is on breathing problems. The pups suffer from shortness of breath, play less, and keep their owners busy with loss of consciousness. Therapy for severe stenoses: catheter surgery can be used to widen the constriction with a small balloon.

In female animals, the embryonic connection between the arteries and the lungs remains two to three times more likely than in their male siblings. Mini and miniature poodles, collies, pomeranians, German shepherds, cocker spaniels, shelties, bob tails, maltese, yorkies, rottweilers and pointed wolves are particularly common breeds affected. Although some dogs with a persistent ductus arteriosus botalli can live more or less symptom-free for years, most untreated dogs develop heart failure sooner or later and often die at a young age. That is why an intervention is recommended in any case, and better sooner rather than later, before consequential damage has already developed to the heart.

While until recently the only treatment option was open chest surgery, today this defect can often be closed with a catheter. A catheter is advanced through the artery on the inside of the thigh to the heart. This procedure is much less invasive than surgical closure and has a lower rate of complications.

How do you Treat Heart Disease?

Once a heart disease has been diagnosed, there are modern therapies that can help the dog continue to live with a good quality of life. There are supportive diets that are gentle on dogs with heart problems due to a reduced protein and sodium content. Added taurine and L-carnitine support a strengthening of the heart muscle function.

Diagnostic Options:

  • Auscultation: The first approach to the patient’s heart is still acoustic: the cardiologist listens to the thump of the dog’s heart with the stethoscope in a very classic way. If noises occur that do not belong there, further investigations are initiated.
  • Blood Pressure Measurement: Veterinarians also measure the blood pressure of dogs. The veterinarian wraps the inflatable cuff around either the front paw or the tail.
  • Electrocardiogram: The electrocardiogram or long-term electrocardiogram is used to record electrical activities on the surface of the heart in order to be able to recognize, for example, cardiac arrhythmias, valve or muscle changes.
  • X-Rays: X-rays provide information about the size and shape of the heart and the effects of heart disease on the lungs or large vessels. However, the vet only sees the heart silhouette as a shadow on the X-ray image.
  • Echocardiography: Heart ultrasound (echocardiography) is of central importance in cardiology. The technology allows a glimpse into the inside of the beating heart. In this way, the specialist can assess movements of the heart and vessel valves and the heart walls. He gets an impression of the size of the atria and chambers. The heart ultrasound is completely painless, the four-legged friends do not need anesthesia.
  • Three-Dimensional live Ultrasound: In addition to classic ultrasound, there are 3-D and even 4-D ultrasound, the latter being a three-dimensional live ultrasound. Young parents know this from gynecologists: fantastic pictures in which they can watch their unborn child sucking their thumbs. “It’s more for the eye,” says Dr. Gerhard Wess, but he admits that with the technical refinement of this method, new possibilities may arise in the future.
  • Doppler Ultrasound: The cardiologist uses Doppler ultrasound to examine the blood flow in the heart. It measures the speed and flow characteristics of the red sap in the heart. Valve defects, for example, cause turbulence in the blood stream.
  • Fabric Doppler: A special application is the tissue Doppler, in which the examiner does not measure the blood flow, but the speed at which the heart muscle moves. This is how he tracks down cardiac muscle stiffening or loss of elasticity.
  • Fabric Doppler: A special application is the tissue Doppler, in which the examiner does not measure the blood flow, but the speed at which the heart muscle moves. This is how he tracks down cardiac muscle stiffening or loss of elasticity.

Tips for Buying a Puppy:

“Before you decide on a new puppy, you should be sure that it has been monitored well, Because most congenital heart diseases are expressed by more or less distinct heart murmurs. In addition to the typical knocking noise of the muscle pump, there is rustling, whistling or drumming in the heart.

Basically, promenade mixes are less prone to heart defects than their noble conspecifics. In pedigree animals, the incidence of heart disease increases by a factor of 3.4. Due to the selective breeding for certain breed characteristics, errors crept into the genetic make-up without being noticed. Anyone who opts for an animal with a pedigree should inquire about heart conditions in the line of their dream dog. Suspicion should arise when parents and grandparents passed away prematurely, that is, in middle age.


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