Just like people, our dogs can develop heart disease and, as their caregiver, it is up to us to recognize the signs of heart disease and ensure that our beloved pets get the medical attention they need to treat this potentially life-threatening condition.
It is important to note that the symptoms associated with heart disease almost universal among dogs, with a few exceptions. The big difference is that it may be harder to diagnose heart disease in certain breeds because they are better at hiding their symptoms which can mean that they go longer without diagnosis and treatment.
For that and many other reasons, it is important to have your dog’s health assessed by a veterinarian annually or whenever you suspect a problem.
What Causes Heart Disease In Dogs?
Some forms of heart disease begin at birth with abnormal heart or blood vessels and continue throughout the animal’s life. Most heart disease, however, develops as a result of aging.
Sometimes heart disease has no symptoms but most of the time there are warning signs that you can watch for. If your dog has any of these symptoms, talk to your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Early Signs Of Heart Disease In Dogs
A few of the more common symptoms include:
- Coughing spells
- Breathing difficulties – Any shortness of breath or rapid or labored breathing especially with exercise, should be brought to the attention of your vet.
- Restlessness , discomfort while sleeping, especially at night.
- Slowing down, reluctant to go for walks.
- Development of exercise intolerance or getting tired easily nowadays whereas earlier he/she was totally fine.
- Fainting episodes
- Persistent rapid breathing
- Vomiting – This usually more of a symptom for cats, while coughing without vomiting is more common in dogs.
- Changes in appetite or weight – poor appetite, weight gain, or more importantly, weight loss can be signs of heart disease
- Changes in behavior – if your dog becomes withdrawn, appears to be depressed or isolates himself from the family, your vet should be consulted