Heart disease in dogs is more common than you might realize. Dogs are susceptible to many different forms of cardiovascular issues that range in severity. Your veterinarian will base the treatment on the type of heart disease. Oakland Veterinary Referral Services (OVRS) wants to help you learn about heart disease in dogs so you can spot any signs of trouble early.  

Types of Heart Disease in Dogs

Dogs, like people, are at risk for different kinds of heart disease. Some heart disease is due to genetic predisposition in certain breeds, while other heart issues are due to lifestyle.

Here are some of the most common types of canine heart disease:

  • Congenital heart disease – Some dogs are, unfortunately, born with heart abnormalities.  Modern veterinary medicine has many successful ways to treat congenital heart disease, which is why it is important to get regular checkups. Start bringing your dog in for yearly wellness checks when he is a puppy to keep his heart strong.
  • Heartworm disease – Heartworms enter a dog’s bloodstream through a mosquito bite and affect the respiratory system. Without treatment, heartworm disease can severely damage the heart. Luckily, your veterinarian has preventives that keep your pup safe from these pesky parasites.
  • Valvular disease – The heart has four valves that keep blood flowing in the proper direction. Wear and tear on these valves over time can result in them being “leaky.”  Bacteria can also build up on the valves when oral infections travel through the bloodstream. As this disease progresses, it can become congestive heart failure. Your veterinarian will most likely manage this type of heart disease with heart medications.
  • Cardiomyopathies – Problems with the actual muscle of the heart can affect the way the heart contracts. Certain breeds of dogs like dobermans, great Danes, boxers, and cocker spaniels may be more at risk for this problem.
  • High blood pressure – Dogs can suffer from hypertension, too!  This may be secondary to other diseases or problems.

How to Help a Dog with Heart Disease

If your dog is suffering with some form of heart disease, it is important to work closely with a veterinary cardiologist who can closely monitor your pup. Certain lifestyle changes might be necessary to ensure your dog has the best chance at a full life even with a heart problem, like:

  • Medication
  • Diet changes
  • Exercise changes
  • Dental care 
  • Parasite prevention (fleas, ticks, and heartworm)

Your dog’s heart is unique to your pet. Talk to your veterinarian about your canine’s specific needs in terms of heart disease treatment and care. Some dogs need a modified diet to ensure they’re getting the proper nutrients. Others might need to change their amount of physical activity.

Life Expectancy for Dogs with Heart Disease

With most types of heart disease in dogs, early diagnosis is everything. If caught early, many dogs with cardiovascular issues can live for many years. Heart disease that goes undiagnosed and treated for years is much harder on your pet. Whenever you notice changes in your dog’s breathing or general affect, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. And make sure you schedule a wellness checkup and bloodtests with your veterinarians at least once per year. 

At OVRS, we have a team of veterinary cardiology specialists to keep your pet’s heart pumping strong. If you are dealing with heart disease in dogs, we can help. Call (248) 334‑6877 to learn more.