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Good news for Dogs with Heart Disease – A Healthy Heart is a Healthy Heart

Posted August 6, 2013

America’s Heart Association has a message for all dog owners, “owning a dog may prevent heart disease.” So, what are we doing to help our dogs with heart disease?

Dogs with heart disease have either an acquired condition or a congenital condition. Congenital means it is a condition present at birth and can be genetically passed down from the parents to the puppy.

Acquired heart disease is the most common form and accounts for 95% of all heart disease. The two main causes of acquired heart disease are valvular, or dilated cardiomyopathy.

Valvular, also know as atrioventricular valvular insufficiency or mitral valve disease, occurs when the heart valves leak and are unable to properly monitor the flow of blood, this results in a backward flow and causes a heart murmur.

Your vet can hear the murmur through a stethoscope and will identify whether the murmur is on the left or the right side of the body. A murmur on the left side indicates a valve problem; a right-sided murmur indicates heartworms.

Small breed dogs such as Toy Poodles, Chihuahuas and Yorkshire Terriers are more susceptible to valvular malfunction.

Dilated cardiomyopathy, DCM, is disease of the heart muscle; the heart becomes weak and unable to provide the circulation necessary to meet the body’s needs. DCM occurs in medium to large breed dogs such as Boxers, Dobermans, St. Bernards, Dalmatians and Irish Wolfhounds.

A weakened heart muscle or malfunctioning valve system will result in problems with the liver, kidneys, lungs and other organs. Dogs with heart disease may function for years without signs of failure, or signs may appear suddenly after strenuous exercise when the heart just can’t keep up with the body’s demands.

This is why it is important to have regular check-ups with the vet to make sure the heart sounds strong, and your dog’s general health is in good shape.

Pay attention to early symptoms such as a cough after exercise, rapid breathing, weight loss or abdominal swelling. These are early indicators that all is not well, and it is time to take action before the condition becomes serious.

Our dogs provide us with infinite love; they greet us with waggily tails and sloppy kisses, their boundless enthusiasm for life helps us maintain a positive, healthy attitude. We can do the same for them, by providing lots of love, healthy food and a good amount exercise.

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