Two dogs with heart disease in Beverly Hills

There’s no doubt that your dog’s heart is special – but did you know that it can fall victim to disease just like a human heart can? Heart disease is the leading cause of death among people in the United States, and our dogs aren’t far behind. 

Learning how to spot the signs of heart disease in dogs, and what you can do to prevent it in the first place, is key to keeping your sweet pup happy and healthy for the long term.

Heart Disease in Dogs

Unlike humans, dogs don’t typically suffer from heart attacks or stroke. There are two main forms of heart disease in dogs:

Mitral valve disease – The mitral valve separates the two sides of the heart, but when it starts to break down blood can leak through. This leakage results in the heart having to work harder to pump blood. Mitral valve disease is the most common form of heart disease in dogs.

Dilated cardiomyopathy – This is a weakening of the heart muscle, causing the heart to have to pump harder to deliver blood throughout the body. Over time this leads to enlargement of the heart muscle.

Just like with people, aging, poor nutrition, and excess weight can all contribute to heart disease in dogs. Breed plays a role, too – Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Chihuahuas, Daschunds, and other small breeds are more prone to mitral valve disease, while larger breeds like Great Danes, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds tend to develop dilated cardiomyopathy.

Signs of Trouble

Like most medical problems, early detection and treatment of canine heart disease is ideal. The early signs are subtle, so it’s important to know what to look out for. Please contact your Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates veterinarian if you notice any of the following symptoms of heart disease in your pet:

  • Decreased stamina or exercise tolerance
  • Rapid or labored breathing (especially when no exertion is involved)
  • Coughing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • A blue tinge to the gums

Diagnosis and Treatment

Besides a thorough physical examination, your veterinarian may order an EKG, X-rays, or a blood test to diagnose heart disease. 

Heart disease in dogs isn’t treatable, but if caught early enough it’s fairly easy to manage with diligent home care.

  • Provide your pet with the highest quality nutrition possible as recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Keep your pet at a healthy weight through daily exercise and portion control.
  • Dental disease can cause heart disease in pets, so keeping up with home and professional dental care is essential.
  • Keep your pet on a year-round heart disease preventive medication.
  • Bring your pet in for all of their regularly scheduled wellness exams, and alert us right away to any signs of trouble.

Please don’t hesitate to contact our team with your questions or concerns about your pet!