5 Signs Your Dog May Have Heart Problems
Dogs are prone to heart problems like congestive heart failure. Regular vet checks can catch this problem at its early stages. A good pet insurance plan can reduce the cost of proper medication and treatment. This type of care will prolong your furry companion’s life.
There are several types of heart problems that your dog can have. Some of these conditions are congenital, meaning your dog has had them since birth. These heart conditions may have been passed down from your pet’s parents. Congenital heart diseases in dogs include congestive heart failure, canine dilated cardiomyopathy, and pulmonic stenosis.
In other cases, older dogs can also develop heart conditions. These conditions are usually the result of aging. If you have a middle-aged or older dog, some heart conditions you can ask the vet about include arrhythmias, pericardial disease, and canine valvular disease.
Being aware of the symptoms of canine heart problem signs can help ensure your loyal friend gets on-time urgent vet care as well.
Sign #1: Difficulty in Breathing
This is one of the most significant signs of heart issues in dogs. The type of breathing is rapid. This happens because the heart valves are already leaking fluids into the dog’s organ systems. The heart expands, then fluid collects and presses on the lungs. That is why the dog experiences difficulty in breathing.
A dog with a heart problem will often exert more force in breathing as well. Some dogs will also stretch out their necks or stand with legs parted to breathe better. Others will sit for long hours so they can be more comfortable as they attempt to expand their lungs more. You may also notice your dog having difficulties in breathing while lying down.
The normal respiratory rate (RR) in dogs is from 10 to 35 breaths per minute. Your dog will need emergency vet care once its RR exceeds 40 breaths per minute. Assistive breathing can help get a higher amount of oxygen into your dog’s lungs.
The vet may also order an X-ray to check for fluid build-up in the lungs. The main goal is to slow down your dog’s breathing. This will ensure proper oxygenation of your dog’s body before the vet provides further treatment.
Sign #2: Low Energy
A dog’s physical activity may depend on the dog’s personality. Some dogs love to relax and nap. Others like to run all around the house or at the park. You know your dog better than anyone else. Any change in your dog’s behavior or habit may signal low physical activity.
You may also notice signs of fainting or collapse in your otherwise healthy dog. Also called syncope, fainting occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen-rich blood. This is often the result of heart disease. In most cases, exercise triggers fainting in dogs with heart disease. Sometimes, a coughing episode can trigger fainting as well.
Taking your dog to the vet will give the vet the chance to check for CHF. Don’t worry; pet insurance can reduce the cost of treatment, if needed.
Sign #3: Gum and Tongue Colors
A blood test and other medical tests will indicate a dog’s oxygen levels at the vet’s office. However, at home, there is a way to see if your dog is not getting the proper oxygen it needs. As you hold your dog, check their gums and tongue.
In a healthy dog, the gums will appear a pretty vivid pink, similar to the color of bubblegum. When a dog lacks the proper oxygen, the gums will have a blue or purple tone to them. One of the more common causes for this is a lack of oxygen due to congestive heart failure. In such cases, the heart works extra hard to pump blood through the dog’s body.
Any sign of gum discoloration in a blue or purple should turn into a vet trip as soon as possible. Your dog may need fluid drainage and oxygen in a matter of minutes before things take a turn for the worse.
Sign #4: Coughing
The increase of fluids in a dog’s body may result in an increase in coughing for your dog. Basically, some of the fluid build-up reaches the throat of the animal and the discomfort leads to coughing. You may find that the coughing is more intense at night.
Some dogs may have a coughing spell and it goes away. Try to give the dog some water or food. If the coughing persists for more than an hour, then bring the animal to an emergency vet service. The exact source of the cough may be found.
Even if the cough is not the result of congestive heart failure, there could be something lodged in the animal’s throat. Pet insurance can reduce the costs of removal of foreign substances.
Sign #5: Previous Health Issues and Sudden Changes
In some cases, your dog may have past health issues that lead up to congestive heart failure. For example, your dog may have been diagnosed with a heart murmur. Over time, the murmur may get worse and eventually cause the heart to expand in size.
Look for sudden changes in the way your dog breathes or acts. They may wake up all of a sudden in the middle of night, not bark as often, or have a reduced appetite. These sudden changes may seem small, but they could be the key to getting your pet the medical attention it needs.
Takeaway: Getting Heart Disease Diagnosed in Your Dog
Congestive heart failure is a struggle many dogs deal with, but thankfully there are multiple treatments to help your animal get through it and live comfortably for as long as possible.
In many cases, routine office visits can help vets detect heart disease in dogs. Your vet may also perform procedures like X-rays, blood and urine tests, an electrocardiogram, and cardiac catheterization to diagnose heart disease in your dog. Pet insurance can reduce the costs of these treatments, so you don’t have to worry financially.