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Dog heart disease

Dog Heart Ailments

Dog heart disease is the second most common cause of death.

However, many of the owners realize very late that their dog is suffering from heart disease. Many dogs develop this problem as they grow old, but for some dogs this could be congenital and dog heart disease symptoms may be seen early on in the dog’s life.

Here are some common symptoms related to canine heart disease:

  • Exercise intolerance and breathlessness: Due to inadequate blood flow, the heart muscle becomes weak and fails to contract properly causing a decrease in the amount of blood flow in the body. This makes dogs breathless during any physical activities, so they become lethargic.
  • Coughing: This occurs due to fluid leakage inside the lungs as a result of increased blood pressure inside the ventricles.
  • Excessive fluid release and deposition: Fluids get deposited at the peritoneal (stomach) and peripheral regions of the body due to inadequate blood flow and thus cause swelling.
  • Bluish tinge to the tongue and gums.

The common kinds of heart disease that are found in dogs include:

  • Heart murmur in dogs: This is a cardiac problem in young dogs due to problems in the blood flow.

    Many dogs develop this problem when they are young but later live without any symptoms. Heart murmur in dogs can happen due to any of the following reasons:
  1. Mitral valve dysplasia due to leakage in heart valve.Ventricular septal defect due to the holes present in the ventricular walls of the heart. Increased velocity of blood due to high velocity in blood during the growing phase.
  2. Increased viscosity of blood due to high viscous blood during some infection.
  3. Pulmonary stenosis due to narrowing of the pulmonary artery.
  4. Some diagnostic tests such as auscultation, chest X-rays, ultrasound examinations, electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiogram and blood tests need to be done for the proper diagnosis of heart murmur in dogs.
  • Canine heart disease: Also known as cardiomyopathy, this disease is characterized by a weak heart muscle in dogs, where the heart muscle loses its capacity to contract. Because of the inability of ventricles to contract properly, the heart’s structure changes. Canine dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common disease in giant breeds and middle aged dogs. Canine dilated cardiomyopathy may occur due to several reasons such as:
  1. Viral infection
  2. Nutritional deficiency of amino acids (Taurine and Carnitine)
  3. Genetically related problems.
  4. The diagnosis for this disease is carried out in the same way as for heart murmur. There is no permanent cure. However, proper care can give some relief to the dog.
  • Heart failure: The common causes of heart failure in dogs are chronic heart diseases, infections in the valves, veins, or arteries and improper function of the the muscles of the heart. Heart failure usually occurs during the middle or late phase of a dog’s life. However, sometimes it may happen during the early phase due to an aggravation of existing problems, inadequate exercise, and wrong diet.
  Submitted on May 7, 2010  

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