Your Dog and Heart Disease
How Common is Heart Disease?
Heart disease is frequently encountered in dogs. The function of the heart is to maintain an adequate flow of blood to the tissues and organs of the body. Acquired diseases affecting the heart valves or heart muscle can eventually cause the heart to fail and result in inadequate blood flow.
How is Heart Disease Detected?
A thorough physical exam, including listening to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope, is how veterinarians determine that heart disease may be present in your dog.
To help confirm the diagnosis of heart disease, radiographs (x-rays) of the chest can help your veterinarian evaluate the size of the heart and condition of the lungs. In addition, an ECG can be used to evaluate the electrical activity of the heart. Your doctor may recommend an echocardiogram to further evaluate the mechanical capability of the heart.
What Signs Should I Look For?
The most common signs associated with heart disease are:
• Lack of energy
• Irregular and rapid breathing
• Weight loss
• Abdominal swelling
Your Veterinarian Has Options You Can Consider.
Heart disease can be treated and your veterinarian can discuss an appropriate treatment plan for your dog with you. It is important to have periodic check-ups to evaluate your dog's progress. How well your pet responds at home will depend on how advanced the heart disease is and your ability to follow your veterinarians instructions. By adhering to the professional advice of your veterinarian and with your own careful attention, your pet can often live a comfortable and longer life.