Heart Problems in Dogs
Dogs also suffer from heart disease, either congenital or acquired. 90% of these ailments have their origin in other pathologies (viral, infectious, nutritional or tumor).
Also, like humans and due to advances in medicine, pets tend to live longer and, for this reason, develop ailments that affect older animals.
Main signs of heart problems in dogs
Heart failure is the inability of the heart to pump enough blood that tissues and organs need. The causes can be diverse, but mainly they go through defective valves, myocardial diseases, and parasitic infestation.
It is recommended that you carefully observe your dog – especially if it exceeds 6 years – to see if it shows signs of any heart disease. Among them:
- Fatigue during exercise, walks or games
- Respiratory distress
- Frequent cough, mainly at night
- Decreased appetite
- Swelling of the abdomen
If so, urgently go to the veterinarian for studies and determine the appropriate treatment for your pet. Discovering the type of condition early and treating it early will help keep your heart from deteriorating.
The professional will look for a way for your four-legged friend to improve his breathing capacity, will facilitate normal functioning of the heart and circulation to and from the organs and release excess fluid accumulated in his organs.
Main heart diseases in dogs
The main heart diseases that a dog can develop are:
Valvular heart disease
It is the most common heart disease. It occurs because of the wear of the heart valves as the animal ages.
Small-breed dogs – Poodle, Maltese, Yorkshire Terrier, Chihuahua, etc. – are the most affected, although some cases also occur in larger dogs. Also, this medical condition affects males more than females.
The causes are not always degenerative. Valves can end up becoming inflamed as a result of bacteria that infect the mouth in small dogs.
They are the diseases of the heart muscle itself that, when affected, produce failures in its contraction. They are usually detected in large dogs, as is the case of Saint Bernard, the Great Dane or the Boxer.
They appear with aging, slowly and progressively, and caused by a condition in the heart muscle that affects the heartbeat.
The causes may be primary (usually unknown or idiopathic) or secondary to other systemic or metabolic diseases. They are usually caused by endocrine, nutritional, toxic problems, or by infections or tumors.
Congenital heart disease
They are defects with which the animal is born and which are usually detected before the year of life. These are cardiovascular malformations caused by abnormal embryonic development and tend to develop congestive heart failure of very rapid evolution.
Congenital heart disease that may occur, among others less common, are:
- Persistence of the ductus arteriosus
- Persistence of the 4th right aortic arch
- Pulmonary stenosis
- Aortic stenosis
- Atrial and ventricular septal defects
- Tetralogy of Fallot
It is a serious disease, which mainly affects dogs, but also occurs in other animals (cat, wolf, fox, mink) and occasionally in man.
The infection is caused by the adult filaria, which is around an elongated parasite that inhabits the heart and pulmonary arteries of its hosts and can measure up to 15 centimeters, in the case of males, and up to 40 in the case of females.
The also known as the heartworm disease spread rapidly around the world, although it is typical of temperate and humid areas inhabited by mosquitoes that spread from one animal to another through their bites.
Always keep in mind that one of the main risk factors for your pet to suffer from some type of heart disease is being overweight.
If, also, the animal records high levels of cholesterol and glucose and suffers from high blood pressure, the picture is complicated. Therefore, a balanced diet and a good dose of exercise – in addition to regular health checks – are essential elements to prevent heart problems in your dog.