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What You Should Know about Heart Disease in Dogs

A new puppy is always a joy to have around. However, you need to remember that the first few months in its life are crucial for its proper development, which is why it’s vital you give it everything it might need – including the best food for a puppy

As experts from My Sweet Puppy noticed, “Feeding it with the best puppy food is vital in these first weeks because your puppy is growing 20x faster than a young adult dog! In these first months, healthy patterns are established that will prevent future health problems like allergies, obesity, and joint problems.”

Just like in people, the heart is the most important part of your dog’s body – it pumps blood that contains oxygen and all the nutrition that your furry friend might need. Unfortunately, your dog’s heart is also as prone to heart disease as yours is and needs to be monitored.

If you want to protect your four-legged friend from such a disease, or at least minimize the risk that it may be genetically prone to, you need to know some basics to be able to recognize its symptoms. That’s what we are here for. 

So, if you want to know more about heart disease in dogs, just keep reading. Without any further ado, let’s jump right into it. 

What Are the Heart Conditions in Dogs? 

Most heart conditions that dogs suffer from involve a decrease in the effective pumping of blood, which can cause an increased amount of fluids in your dog’s abdomen and chest.  

We can distinguish two main types of heart conditions – the first one being those that affect the heart valve, and the other concerning the heart muscle. Both of them can be easily treated with proper nutrition, exercise, or (in some cases) medicine. Here are the examples of each: 

  • Chronic valvular disease – a reduced quantity of blood caused by a leaking heart valve.
  • Myocardial disease – the heart pumps less efficiently due to the weakness or thickening of the heart muscle. 

Unfortunately, there is no single cause of heart conditions. However, there are several things that contribute to it, such as nutritional problems, heartworm, age, body condition (especially overweight dogs), or breed (chronic valvular disease is more common in small breeds, while the myocardial disease is more frequent in large and giant breeds). 

Common Signs That Your Dog Is Suffering from a Heart Disease

There are many types of heart diseases that might be affecting your dog, but it is possible to determine some symptoms that the majority of them share. Those include: 

  • Cough – if your dog suffers from heart disease, it most probably will cough for a lot longer than just a few days. There are several reasons for the cough. For example, the problem can be the fluid accumulated in your dog’s lungs due to the heart not pumping efficiently. Some diseases cause heart enlargement – in this case, the enlarged heart can press on your dog’s airways, which results in a cough. If your dog has been coughing for more than a couple of days, you definitely should contact a vet. 
  • Fainting or collapsing – when the heart stops functioning properly, other organs (e.g., the brain) can become deprived of nutrients, such as oxygen. It can lead to syncope (fainting) or collapsing. Those can also be caused by physical exercise or even excessive coughing. 
  • Difficulty breathing – dogs that suffer from heart disease often have trouble breathing – they either breathe more rapidly or with more force. Also, dogs in which the heart disease is more advanced can have difficulty breathing even when lying down. 
  • Fatigue – dogs suffering from heart disease often have more trouble with physical activity. They get tired a lot faster than healthy dogs, which results in them resting or sleeping longer than they used to.
  • Behavior change – dogs with heart disease often show changes in behavior – for example, they lack appetite or are reluctant to play or engage in activities that they used to enjoy before. 

The Bottom Line

Heart disease is a very serious matter that needs to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. While it is a tolerable condition that one can live with, there’s no denying that it brings your dog a lot of discomfort and prevents it from enjoying the things it used to before, such as long walks or playtime. 
If you have any suspicion that your dog might be suffering from it, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Untreated heart diseases might cause much bigger problems in the future, so why take a chance at the expense of your furry friend? Even if it turns out that this is not the cause of your dog’s strange behavior, the vet can tell you the real reason.

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