Know the Signs of Heart Disease

Learn the signs and symptoms of heart disease in dogs.

By | Posted: Tue Aug 29 00:00:00 PDT 2000

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When the disease advances to the congestive stage, outward signs become obvious and alarming. With left-sided failure, severe coughing and breathing difficulty occur as lung tissues fill with fluid. The dog may pant heavily. Often the congestion can be heard or felt over the chest. Dogs at this stage are restless and uncomfortable and assume body positions that ease breathing, usually preferring to stand or sit upright on the chest with the head extended forward. The gums become purple or blue because of lack of oxygen, and the dog will suffocate unless it gets emergency treatment.

With right-sided heart failure, the abdomen becomes progressively distended because fluid accumulates and the liver enlarges. Abdominal fluid can cause discomfort and secondary respiratory distress because of pressure against the diaphragm.

A dog may die suddenly if arrhythmia becomes too severe. Owners of high-risk breeds, such as Doberman Pinschers and Boxers, should have their veterinarian check their dog's heart frequently and learn to monitor the dog' s pulse.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation techniques can be used by owners on a limited basis. Attempts at CPR without adequate knowledge and experience can severely injure the dog and owner. Review these techniques with your veterinarian before the need for them arises. In most cases, the dog would be served best by immediate attention at a veterinary hospital rather than wasting valuable time at home.

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