Dog heart problems – monitor your dog!

Narrated from: Dog Health

Sadly, many dogs die from various heart problems - with older dogs being especially vulnerable. Since your dog can neither talk, nor go to the hospital alone, it is up to you to notice any symptoms indicating heart failure, and therefore save your dog’s life!

The heart attack

A dog’s heart is divided into four chambers, two on the left and two on the right. When the heart fails, certain parts stop functioning altogether.

Dogs can experience heart attacks just like humans – this happens when the heart suddenly stops working. However, most dogs actually die from congestive heart failure – this means that the heart problem has been developing for quite a long time, and getting worse and worse.

Heart problem symptoms

The symptoms a dog will show depend on the heart disease it is suffering from, and which half of the heart is affected. However, symptoms common for most diseases include:

- apathy, lethargy, listlessness
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- dry cough
- change in the color of the gums
- difficulty in the breathing

Other symptoms can include pain in the chest, pain in the limbs, fainting, and so on.

What can be done?

This depends on the heart disease the dog has. Not all heart problems are fatal, and steps can be taken to improve the dog’s chances of survival. Generally, one needs to find a good veterinarian with experience in this field.

Different medications are administered for different diseases - medications which depress systemic blood pressure, antiarrhythmic drugs and so on.

For dogs with a severely slow heart rhythm, a pacemaker implant would be needed.

And in all cases, proper management of the dog’s diet is of the utmost importance!


Dogs can suffer from acquired or congenital heart diseases. Congenital heart diseases are the result of a defect of this organ that has been present since the dog's birth; however, only about 5% of all dogs with heart problems suffer from congenital diseases.

Acquired diseases develop with time, usually when the dog gets older. Usually this is in no way the fault of the owner, but still – taking good care of your dog will minimize the risks. For instance, obesity and an unhealthy diet will increase pressure on the heart, and may result in heart failure.

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