Dog heart disease is something you should know about if you are a dog owner as heart failure is sadly a common consequence of the disease.  Heart disease includes several types of conditions but they all ultimately have the same symptoms. There are two types of heart failure in dogs that every owner should be aware of:

1)    Right-sided heart failure. This type occurs when the right side of the heart fails to pump blood adequately.  It results in blood accumulating in organs instead of returning normally back to the heart.  The blood accumulation will most often be noticed in the abdominal cavity, the liver and the limbs. 

2)    Left-sided heart failure.  This type occurs when the pumping mechanism in the left side of the heart fails.  In this instance, the blood returning from the lungs to the heart backs up and fluid accumulates in the lungs.
Some dogs can suffer from both types of heart failure.  If this happens to your dog, you will notice signs of both.
Most owners associate heart disease and heart attacks with symptoms ‘coming from the heart’ such as difficulty breathing or increased pulse rate.  However, that is not always the case and there are several signs that every owner should be aware of.  Dogs with heart disease can even be asymptomatic, meaning they show no signs of illness.  The signs of heart failure will vary depending on the severity of the dog’s condition and which side of the heart is infected.  But the signs most commonly noticed in heart failure include:

•    Generalized weakness                   
•    Tiring easily
•    Depression
•    Lack of appetite
•    Weight loss
•    Coughing
•    Breathing heavily
•    Swelling in the legs
•    A bloated, fluid-filled abdomen
•    Increased heart rate
•    Weak pulse
•    Vomiting, diarrhea or constipation

If you notice any of the above symptoms in your dog, it would be smart to get veterinary care immediately.  Although most of the signs can occur with several other conditions, you will want to rule out heart disease and figure out what is triggering the symptoms.  Heart disease/heart failure cannot always be prevented, but there are definitely ways that you can make it less likely to occur such as: keeping your dog at a healthy weight, exercising him regularly, feeding him a nutritious, balanced diet and keeping his stress level low.  It is also very helpful to bring him to the vet for regular check-ups.  Dog heart disease is a serious condition that every owner should be aware of.  If you have further questions, ask a veterinarian!


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