Category Archives: Heart

Heart Disease in Dogs


Knowing what health issues your dog is susceptible to gives you the chance to catch a malady early when you have ample time to modify it. When the issue concerns the heart, you can slow down the disease before it progresses to heart failure. If you own or plan to adopt one of the following breeds, you need to watch for symptoms they may exhibit that are common to heart disease.

1. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

The incidence of degenerative mitral valve disease (DMVD) occurs more frequently in this breed than any other. Fifty percent of Cavaliers develop a heart murmur, indicating onset of the disease, by age 5, and 100 percent by age 10. With DMVD, a leaky mitral valve causes blood to go backward into the left atrium of the heart. (Usually this valve closes when the heart contracts and the blood moves forward into the body.)

Because the condition is inherited, we can’t do much to prevent it. Early symptoms of congestive heart failure include decreased exercise tolerance, labored breathing, and coughing. If you notice any of these, see your veterinarian right away. If your veterinarian detects a heart murmur, he may refer you to a veterinary cardiologist. Otherwise, schedule annual checkups with your general practice veterinarian until the dog reaches age 6 and then twice a year after that.

2. Dachshunds

Dachshunds often develop a leaky heart valve, or DMVD. DMVD usually appears in this breed between 8 and 10 years of age. Regular annual veterinary checkups should reveal this condition early. As a Dachshund ages, you should increase those examinations to every six months, so the condition can be addressed before it becomes problematic.

DMVD can be controlled by medication. It also helps to keep the dog’s weight down so the heart doesn’t have to work harder than normal.

3. Miniature And Toy Poodles

Degenerative mitral valve disease usually develops in middle age in these smaller breeds. We see an even higher incidence in the elderly population. The valve on the left side of the heart becomes structurally thickened, which makes the blood flow backward, causing a heart murmur.

This enlarges the heart and triggers heart failure. Catching it early is the key so the disease can be treated with medications, a sodium-restricted diet, and fish oil supplements.

4. Doberman Pinschers

Dobermans are at risk for dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a disease of the heart muscle that causes the left ventricle to enlarge and cease functioning correctly. In the early or later phase of the disease, bad arrhythmias may develop that can be life threatening. As the disease progresses, an affected dog may faint, lose weight, exhibit shortness of breath, cough, or retain fluid that causes his belly to distend.

DCM occurs more frequently in male Dobermans. If you know your Doberman’s family history and it includes incidences of DCM, tell your veterinarian so he or she can watch for symptoms, especially a heart murmur or abnormal heart rhythm. Annual exams should be ramped up to twice yearly when your dog reaches 4 years of age.

5. Boxers

Boxers are susceptible to arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC). ARVC is a genetic heart disease that results from fatty cells being deposited in the right ventricle muscle crowding out the normal cells.

This can result in ventricular arrhythmias (life-threatening heart rhythm abnormality). In early stages, dogs may display bad heart arrhythmias which affects their exercise ability and often results in fainting and, sadly, even sudden death.

6. Golden Retrievers

The most common congenital heart disease seen in Goldens is aortic stenosis. The aortic valve doesn’t form properly during gestation, and when the dog is born, the valve sticks. That makes the heart muscle thicken.

The narrowing of the valve can be mild, moderate, or severe. Most common in larger breeds, aortic stenosis may be apparent at birth if it’s in the moderate or severe stage. Milder cases usually appear in the dog’s first year. Ask your general practice veterinarian to listen for a heart murmur if you have a Golden puppy.

Diana Ruth Davidson,  Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid

Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

Signs Of Heart Disease In Dogs


As a species, dogs are less plagued by heart disease than humans, whose lifestyle choices can contribute to the development of heart problems. But some dogs do develop congestive heart failure. Here are the most common symptoms of heart disease in dogs to look out for.

1. Shortness Of Breath

This is perhaps the most prominent sign of heart disease in dogs. As the heart loses its strength—and its ability to pump fresh blood to other parts of the body—the lungs kick into higher gear, seeking more fresh oxygen to enrich the bloodstream.

If you notice your dog panting at unusual times—when he should not be overheated, when he has not exerted himself, or when he’s sleeping or resting—this can be cause for concern.

2. Loss Of Appetite

Like other symptoms, this one could be the result of various health changes, but if you notice your dog has lost interest in food, and she exhibits other symptoms on this list, heart disease could be the culprit.

If the problem persists, definitely check with your veterinarian.

3. Weight Loss Or Weight Gain

Depending on the nature of the heart problem, weight loss or gain can result from heart disease. Noticeable, sudden weight loss can be the result of the diminished appetite mentioned previously.

With weight gain, you’re looking for bloating or a distended, swollen belly, rather than usual chubbiness. This is caused by the buildup of fluid in the abdomen when blood flow has been blocked as a result of poor circulation.

4. Fatigue

Similar to the effects experienced in the lungs, an inefficient or struggling heart will have trouble delivering oxygen and other nutrients to the rest of the body, creating an overall effect of exhaustion and fatigue.

If you notice your dog is more difficult to motivate and she struggles to find the energy for things she used to love, a heart problem could be to blame. Of course, older dogs are generally less energetic, so this can be tough to gauge. But if you notice your dog has a hard time making it through just a fraction of his daily walk, or if you see this symptom with some of the others listed, definitely keep a watchful eye.

5. Changes In Behavior

Dogs suffering from heart disease may behave differently in several ways. They may isolate themselves, appear depressed, or seem uninterested in things that previously excited them.

Or they may exhibit a general sense of discomfort or restlessness.

6. Fainting Spells

If your dog collapses or faints suddenly, seek veterinary help immediately.

This can tends point to several serious health issues, heart disease among them. But it demands quick attention and response.

7. Coughing

Coughing can signal a variety of diseases, but a minor cough should disappear after about three days.

If you notice your dog coughing, particularly after exercise, or if you notice a cough that worsens at night, heart disease may be the culprit.

Diana Ruth Davidson,  Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid

Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372