Heart Diseases in Dogs: Types, Symptoms and Treatment

In the chest of any dog beats a big heart, which is filled with love and devotion to their owners. But, unfortunately, our Pets are increasingly diagnosed with diseasesof the cardiovascular system, complicating and shortening their lives.

How to understand that your dog has heart problems, what to do about it, how to treat it, how long do dogs with heart problems live? We will try to answer these questions as fully and easily as possible.

A dog’s heart, what is it?

The heart of dogs is a hollow organ consisting of muscles, the main of which is called the myocardium. The heart has an inner shell — the endocardium, and the outside of it is covered by the outer shell — the epicardium. In addition, it is placed in a special heart bag or pericardium, which protects the “main pump of the body” from shocks, shocks, infections and contact with other organs.

The heart is divided into two ventricles and two Atria, with a common valve between the right atrium and ventricle, and a second valve between the left atrium and ventricle. The third valve connects the left ventricle and the aorta that exits it, and the fourth valve is located between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery.

The task of all four valves is to organize the movement of blood through the heart in only one direction.

We have outlined the anatomical structure of a dog’s heart so that you can understand why heart diseases occur in dogs.

What heart diseases are diagnosed in dogs?

Heart problems in dogs are divided into congenital and acquired during life. Congenital heart diseases are a consequence of:

  • Abnormal intrauterine development, resulting in a heart defect in the dog.
  • Complications from an infectious disease that the bitch suffered during pregnancy.
  • Genetic predisposition of individual breeds to heart diseases.

Congenital heart diseases make themselves felt at an early age (up to one year) and do not have a very good prognosis for survival. If the defect is small, it may not manifest itself in any way during life, and only at the examination in the clinic will the doctor hear noises in the heart of the dog. With serious cardiac problems in puppies, the following symptoms are observed:

  • lethargy, drowsiness;
  • poor appetite;
  • shortness of breath and cough after active games and runs;
  • open – mouthed breathing;
  • blueness of the mucous membranes;
  • sudden fainting spells.

Is it possible to cure a congenital heart defect in dogs? If you have minor defects, your doctor may prescribe maintenance drug therapy and restriction of motor activity, and your dog will live with his disease for many years. In the case of serious pathology, the prognosis is often sad, since heart surgery can only be performed by a heart surgeon, which is very small in veterinary medicine.

Signs of the disease and treatment methods

Let’s look at what are the acquired heart diseases in dogs, their symptoms and treatment methods.

One of the most common problems is heart failure in adult dogs. This pathology occurs as a result of the fact that the heart can no longer fully perform its pump functions, and blood begins to linger in the lungs, causing their edema.

A typical symptom of the pathology is a so-called heart cough. The causes of this cough are irritation of the bronchi with accumulated fluid.

Initially, the signs of heart failure are not too pronounced — the dog gets shortness of breath during active games or at elevated air temperature. Over time, the situation begins to worsen, and the dog begins to get tired very quickly, breathing heavily even after a small load, his gums and nose turn pale, and his tongue turns blue.

At the next stage of the disease, the dog has a heart cough. At first, the animal coughs infrequently, but then there are long attacks, during which the dog chokes on the cough. This symptom indicates that your pet has developed a severe stage of heart failure.

Owners need to understand that it is necessary to consult a doctor at the first sign of an illness, as this will help extend the life of their pet. Heart failure is a chronic disease, so the PSU will be assigned a lifetime of certain medications to normalize the heart and diuretics to reduce pulmonary edema.

Depending on the severity of the condition, the veterinarian selects therapy individually for each animal.

It will be necessary to review the lifestyle of your pet, now it will be recommended short walks, not too active games, a certain diet and exclusion of stressful situations.

What is cardiomyopathy in dogs?

The dog’s cardiovascular system, when properly functioning, provides all organs with blood and nutrients, which allows the animal to live and develop normally. However, the anatomy of the heart muscles can change with age, as well as due to complications after viral or bacterial infections.

The pathological transformation of the heart muscles is called cardiomyopathy.

There are several types of cardiomyopathy:

  • Hypertrophic, in which the dog’s heart is enlarged in size. It is considered the most “easy” type of disease, since there is a proportional hypertrophy of all the walls of the ventricles and Atria, that is, the heart increases evenly. But in order for such a large heart to work well, the dog needs to spend more strength and energy, which is not very much in older dogs. In addition, it puts pressure on the nearest organs and receives less nutrition and oxygen, which can lead to a heart attack.
  • In the dilated form, the myocardium is stretched and atrophy occurs, as a result of which the heart cannot normally contract and push blood through the vessels.
  • The restrictive form is characterized by the formation of fibrous tissue in the thickness of the heart wall, which interferes with the normal contractility of the dog’s heart.
  • With a mixed form, a combination of all the above types of cardiomyopathy is possible.


As we have already mentioned, the causes of cardiomyopathy are infectious diseases, complications after inflammatory diseases, heart worms, as well as serious errors in nutrition, in which there is a lack of vitamins E, B12, selenium in food.

The main symptoms of cardiomyopathy include:

  • suffocation attacks;
  • hoarse breathing;
  • a heart cough;
  • heart pain;
  • disturbances of the heartbeat;
  • edema;
  • rapid fatigue;
  • cyanosis of the mucous membranes;
  • weight loss;
  • apathetic behavior of the animal.

The appearance of such symptoms should make the owner as soon as possible to contact the dog for help to the veterinarian. After the research, the doctor will prescribe your pet medications that he will take throughout his life.

Most often, digoxin is prescribed to maintain heart function, which prevents atrial fibrillation, and procainamide to regulate gastric extrasystoles. Diuretics, in particular furosemide, are used to eliminate fluid stagnation in the body. The use of enzymes, such as L-carnitine, helps to strengthen the nutrition of the myocardium in order to prevent heart attacks.

In addition to drug therapy, it is important to correctly calculate the physical activity for the dog and make a diet so that it has a minimum amount of salt and fat, but a lot of protein and vitamins.


Inflammatory and infectious diseases can cause another type of heart disease in a dog — myocarditis or inflammation of the heart muscle.

The impetus for the development of myocarditis can serve as some infections, intoxication of the body with poisons or an excess of medications, injury to the heart with broken ribs.

The disease can manifest itself in the following symptoms:

  • the rhythm of the heart;
  • dry cough;
  • dog’s weakness;
  • heavy breathing;
  • the increase in temperature.

Treatment is prescribed according to the cause that caused myocarditis


Endocarditis — damage to the heart endocardium due to severe infectious diseases or poisoning of the dog’s body with poisons or products of parasites in the animal’s intestines.

If the cause of endocarditis was an infection, then the dog has a sharp hyperthermia and signs of heart failure — shortness of breath, heart murmurs, weakening of the heartbeat, against which pulmonary edema can develop, fraught with the death of the animal.

In the case of endocarditis, it is important for the doctor to determine how to support the dog’s heart during the disease, and prescribe adequate therapy. In parallel, the treatment of pathology that affected the heart is also carried out.

Myocardial infarction

Myocardial infarction is a dangerous disease that stops the blood supply to any part of the myocardium and then it dies. The consequence of this pathology is a violation of the entire body, up to the death of the dog.

The clinical picture of a heart attack is characterized by severe chest pain, panic in the dog, and a sharp change in the color of the mucous membranes. The prognosis of survival in dogs with a heart attack depends on the size of the affected area of the myocardium, age and General condition of the animal.

How are heart diseases diagnosed and treated?

Diagnosis of heart disease in dogs is similar to human diagnosis and includes:

  • conducting blood and urine tests;
  • electrocardiography;
  • echocardiography.

The results are carefully studied by a veterinarian-cardiologist, who selects certain medications for each patient, develops an individual treatment schedule, describes the diet and gives recommendations on the animal’s lifestyle.

Surgery in the treatment of heart diseases in dogs is very rarely used, as it is an expensive and insufficiently developed field of veterinary medicine.

We hope that this article will help owners recognize cardiac problems in their Pets at the earliest stages, when there are still ways to help the dog, and make her heart beat for many years to come!