It may or may not surprise you, but your pooch is vulnerable to many illnesses that affect us humans, too, including heart disease. It is just as common in dogs as it is for us, although they’re able to avoid many of the risk factors that normally cause the disease in humans; smoking and fatty foods. But, unfortunately, even with the lack of external causes, your dog’s heart can still be vulnerable to the disease.
In the US alone, it is believed that there are 7.8 million dogs suffering from heart disease, with many showing subtle signs of this secret killer going completely unnoticed. As a puppy owner, you need to know the signs for heart disease! With no cure, you need to do what you can to prevent this disease from taking your canine companion's life too soon.
The most common form of the disease found in dogs is the valvular disease, resulting in 70 – 75% of all cases. This is followed by Heartworm, causing 13% of heart disease cases and dilated cardiomyopathy (mainly affecting larger dogs) is the rarest cause of the illness. But there is a way you can try to prevent your pup’s heart from being vulnerable to this unforgiving illness…
The breed of your dog can have a significant effect on how heart disease may affect them. For example, larger dog breeds; Boxers, Great Danes, and Irish Wolfhounds, are more vulnerable to a condition where their heart will enlarge and become stressed with can cause it to fail, resulting in death. This doesn’t have the same effect on smaller breeds. Dogs like the Cavalier King Charles or Dachshunds are more likely to suffer from disease attacking the valves around their heart, resulting in the same outcome.
It is incredibly important that you know what you’re looking out for, as many of the symptoms are subtle and easily missed. Here are 7 of the most common signs that your dog may have heart disease that you must be aware of...
If you notice your dog is becoming short of breath easily, it could be a sign that their heart isn’t very healthy. As your pup’s heart loses strength, it will struggle to pump the correct amount of blood around the body, to specific organs. When this is the case, the lungs with speed up, searching for more oxygen to compensate for the lack of blood movement. With the blood moving slower, oxygen isn’t getting to parts of the body that need it to function.
Not to be confused with your pup panting after a long walk, or on a hot day, this is a very normal healthy thing for your dog to do. It’s only a worry if you notice them panting at unusual times. Noticing your fur-baby panting while they’re asleep or when they haven’t exerted themselves is when it is time to worry.
Much like a lot of other canine illness, a loss of appetite is a tell-tale sign that something isn’t right with your pup. Not wanting to eat everything in front of them doesn’t mean they have heart disease, but it could be one of the first warning signs. Either way, it shows that your pooch isn’t feeling 100%.
Sometimes dogs can just lose their appetite for a few days, but if it continues, you must act fast and get your pup to your vet. As said before, it might not mean heart disease - it could mean something else is happening that needs to be taken care of. The sooner you find out what is bothering your dog, the easier it should be to sort the problem without a fatal result.
Any sudden change in your pup’s weight is normally a signal that something is wrong. Whether it’s loss or gain, you need to keep a close eye on your dog’s weight, making sure it stays at a healthy balance. Depending on the issue that is affecting the heart, your dog could reduce in weight suddenly, normally due to the lack of appetite (the point above).
The weight gain, on the other hand, will be in the form of a swollen belly or bloating, not necessarily becoming overweight. This change in your pup's body shape will be due to the build-up of fluid in the abdomen where the blood flow has been restricted from poor circulation.
We all know that dogs love their sleep! Whether it’s a quick nap in their snug doggy bed under the rays of the sun, or curling up with you in bed at night, either way, they love a little shut-eye! You will notice issues with fatigue more so when your pup starts to struggle to motivate themselves on a daily basis. Difficulties mustering up the energy to do normal activities is a tell-tale sign that they’re lacking energy.
You see, when the heart is becoming weaker, it will struggle to pump the oxygen around the body, resulting in your pup feeling weaker and experience fatigue. Keep in mind that the older your pup gets, the less energy they will have. It should only be a concern if you notice your pup struggling to get through the day… Along with any of these other symptoms.
Fainting at any point in your dog’s life is a cause of concern as it indicates that something is wrong. A quick response is required of you, as their puppy parents, to seek medical attention straight away. Although it could be nothing more than overheating, you must take your pup to the vet and get them checked.
Fainting or collapsing is troubling and stressful, but you must remember to stay calm for your furry friend…if you’re stressed, they will feel it and their own anxieties will rise, potentially resulting in more stress to their heart and causing another collapse.
If your pup is suffering from heart disease, you may begin to notice a slight change in their personality and behavior. They may start to take themselves off to be alone and may even start to appear depressed and uninterested in things that once made them blot around the house with excitement. If your dog has started to show signs of discomfort or restlessness, this could also change their behaviour…And, not for the best.
Keep an eye out on how often their moods change. The more uncomfortable they are in themselves the more they will distance themselves.
Hearing your dog cough can be quite distressing. It is powerful, guttural and can make your pooch look extremely uncomfortable. A single cough isn’t anything to worry about, especially if it’s after they have eaten – they may just be dislodging something stuck. You need to take action if the cough is continuous, as it can signal a number of illnesses, not just heart disease.
Our advice is to contact a vet as soon as possible – the sooner you get your pooch checked out, the sooner you will be able to support your dog’s health in the best way possible.
Although heart disease doesn’t have a cure, there are ways you can help keep your pooch’s heart health and avoid this ruthless disease. Read our blog on the 6 Ways To Prevent Your Dog From Developing Heart Disease.
Heart Disease is extremely dangerous, slow and cruel, causing most suffers to die suddenly. If you notice any of the above symptoms, try and get to a vet as soon as possible. If caught early, your dog has a much higher chance of getting the right treatment and living for many years after their diagnosis.