Just as in a human being, a dogs heart is a pumping organ that circulates blood to the body. Because the blood contains oxygen, nutrients and hormones, the heart plays a huge role in the other bodily functions in the dog. Dogs can be born with a heart problem or have it develop over time. Recognizing the distinct symptoms of a faulty heart early can help aide the Vet in finding the cause and therefore finding a treatment plan quickly.
Some of the signs and symptoms of a canine heart problems include weight loss, coughing, stunted growth, a swollen stomach or limbs, a fast or irregular heart beat and a bluish cast to the color of the gums. These symptoms singly can also be caused by a multitude of other conditions and aren’t necessarily indicators of a malfunctioning heart.
There are basically eight types of heart disease’s that are seen in dogs. One condition is Congestive heart failure. Heart failure happens when the heart isn’t able to deliver blood that has been properly oxygenated, which in turn causes fluid to build up in the body. If a dog has congestive heart failure it may show signs of running out of breath quickly and may also have a distended abdomen. There are treatment plans available for dogs suffering from congestive heart failure which may enable the dog to live more comfortably and for a longer period of time.
Cardiomyopathy is a heart condition that normally affects very large breeds of dogs. Symptoms may show up after the dog has reached a year old, or possibly not until later in life. With this condition the heart muscle weakens, making the blood flow sluggish, which in turn can turn into congestive heart failure. The heart becomes enlarged. Because of the damage to the heart, treatment plans are limited.
Chronic valvular disease is one of the most common heart conditions in canines. This condition is caused by a thickening in the heart valves which allows the blood flow to trickle backwards. Symptoms of this condition include coughing and difficulty breathing. Dogs with this condition normally have a heart murmur.
One congenital heart defect is called Tetralogy of Fallot. This condition causes the oxygen levels flowing to be very low. Because the oxygenation is faulty, the dog will unable to grow correctly and will also have skin that turns a bluish color when the dog is too active. It is a severe disease, but with proper veterinary care, the dog may survive for many years after being diagnosed.