Heart Disease in Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide
Part One, What is Congestive Heart Failure?
You might be surprised to learn that even dogs can suffer from heart attacks.
Our beloved dogs are a great source of comfort for all of us. They are there during our good and bad times. The death of such a loyal companion from congestive heart failure will surely leave any of us devastated.
Learn more about congestive heart failure so you can spot the warning signs early on and get your dog all the help she needs to recover and live a happy, healthy life.
What Really Is Congestive Heart Failure?
When blood flow to the heart becomes restricted, oxygen and nutrients are not received by the heart muscles. Congestive heart failure occurs when these muscles wear out, and the afflicted heart chamber can no longer effectively pump blood to other parts of the dog’s body.
If oxygen is restricted to vital organs long enough, death may occur.
Heart disease in dogs comes in 3 forms:
1. Valvular Disease
This is the leaking of torn heart valves, which overall reduces the blood reaching all parts of the body and affects about 70-75% of dogs who are older than 5 years.
2. Heartworm Disease
This is caused by a parasitic roundworm called the heartworm. It is transmitted from host to host (dogs) via mosquito bites. About 13% of the dog population is affected and fortunately, this condition is completely curable.
3. Myocardial Disease
This disease occurs specifically due to dilated cardiomyopathy, where the heart becomes enlarged and is unable to pump blood efficiently, makes up the rest 8% of dogs of all ages with heart disease.
Why Do Dogs Suffer from Heart Attacks?
Smoking and eating fatty foods are just two of the causes of heart disease in humans. However, in dogs, disease may occur due to a parasite or injury. Congenital heart defects, genetics, and aging are also factors.
There are numerous other factors as to why this happens. Some of these include:
Tumors occur due to abnormal cell growth around the heart and can block blood flow to the heart muscle.
This occurs when the Thyroxine hormone is not secreted, and thus food doesn’t get converted to energy.
3. Nephrotic Syndrome
This occurs when kidney disorders are responsible for preventing blood clots from being excreted. These blobs or clots of blood can cause a heart attack.
4. Bacterial Infection
Bacterial infection causes cause swelling and agitation and eventual obstruction of blood flow to the heart muscle.
Vasculitis results in blood vessels becoming inflamed and narrowed down thus reducing blood flow.
Plaque build-up narrows arteries and restricts blood flow. This may eventually cause blood vessels to rupture. This is a very rare condition seen in dogs.
7. Coronary Artery Disease
Severe hypothyroidism and elevated cholesterol levels in blood serum may result in this very rare arterial disorder.
How Heart Disease Affects Dogs Depending on Breed
You may think that the occurrence of heart attacks is uniform for all dogs. That’s not true. Heart attacks occur at different rates and ways to different breeds. For example:
1. Large Breeds
As heart disease progress, the dog’s heart gets larger, is under more pressure, and eventually fails. Large breed dogs such as Doberman Pinschers, Boxers, Great Danes, and Irish Wolfhounds are susceptible to this.
2. Smaller Breeds
Small dogs such as Cavalier King, Charles Spaniels, and Dachshunds are vulnerable to heart diseases that affect heart valves.
What Kind of Warning Signs Should You Look For?
Check out this article to learn more about warning signs of heart disease in dogs, as well as how it’s treated.
Editor’s Note: this article is intended for informational purposes and is not meant to be a substitute for proper veterinary care for your pet. If your pet is ill or if you suspect a problem, always consult your veterinarian for medical care.