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Heart failure is not only a common form of heart disease for humans but also dogs. However. The canine heart disease has many different forms & if all of these can cause a heart attack in dogs.
Types of heart failure
There are two types of heart disease that mostly affect dogs.
There are mainly two types of Heart failure (CHF)
- Right-Sided CHF
- Left-sided CHF
When a dog’s right side of the heart becomes unable to pump blood properly then the right-sided heart failure happens & when this happens the blood starts to come back from other body organs. Then the main function of the heart which is normally returning to the heart stops.
The pumping mechanism on the left side of the heart begins to stop working when the left-sided heart failure happens. When this happens the fluid gradually gathers in the lungs which is why the blood coming back from the lungs accumulates behind the heart.
Keep in mind that sometimes both sides of the heart can fail in some dogs which can cause to stop functioning on both of the left and right side of the heart & the dog may show signs of the heart failures.
The sudden death of your dog can be shocking. Many dog owners often had an experience of losing their dog unexpectedly. If your dog is having heart diseases then you should pay attention & take care of this issue at first because over the time this disease can turn out to be a serious problem for your dog. A recent study from the Purdue University Small Animal Diagnostic laboratory shows that almost 10 percent of dogs had experienced sudden death & none of those dogs had any existing disease before.
Many dog owners often blame that “Somebody poisoned his dog” without realizing that it was the heart attack in the dog.
- Cardiac disease
- Gastrointestinal disease
- Unobserved trauma
- Poisoning and Infections
Keep in mind that dogs can’t communicate with us so they can’t tell you if he’s feeling something terribly deep inside. So as a responsible dog owner it’s important to know the signs & pay attention whenever the dogs show
- Physical discomfort
- Difficulty in breathing
- Very Weak level of energy
- Problems in moving properly
- Dog’s eye looks like sleepy and lethargic
Symptoms of left-sided CHF
- Continous breathing
- Unable to stand
- Difficulty in breathing
- Symptoms of right-sided CHF
- Larger abdomen
- Difficulty in breathing
- Heavy coughing
- Larger paw
However these are the physical symptoms but your dog may also seem to be depressed, heavy coughing & very then the dog is likely to suffer from heart disease.
When a tumor is developing around the heart vasculator of the dog then it can easily stop the blood flow to the heart muscle by blocking it.
There are some thyroid gland which can’t produce thyroxine hormone which is why the food can’t provide the energy as it once used to
Nephrotic Syndrome: Sometimes, blood clots are responsible for causing a heart attack in a dog.
Bacterial infection: If there is an infection in your dog’s body then it causes inflammation and blockage by stopping the natural flow of the blood to the heart muscle.
Vasculitis: When the vasculature becomes narrow it can also cause a heart attack
Atherosclerosis: It doesn’t happen very often but sometimes the plaque can develop in the arteries which can stop the flow of the blood.
Coronary artery disease: This problem mainly happens to humans but some breeds were reported of having serious hypothyroidism which was connected with the high serum cholesterol level.
When you take the dog to the vet he will ask you to give a complete history of the dog. You may need to explain the physical & mental symptoms that you noticed earlier to the vet.
After listening to the complete history, the vet may take a complete physical test at first. Depending on the condition the vet may also take some CBC (Complete Blood Count), urinalysis, and Blood culture biochemistry profile tests to determine other causes of heart diseases. Some vets may recommend ecochargery to evaluate the cardiac condition of the dog.
Depending on the diagnosis the vet may recommend the proper treatments. For example, if the vet finds out that the number of white blood cells has increased (leukocytes) then he may recommend a different treatment option. On the other end, if the biochemistry profile seems to have an extream level of live enzymes or low level of T3 & T4 hormones then he may recommend another option for treatments.
First of all, you need to remain calm. You may wrap your dog into a blanket to take him to the vet.
Many dog owners often try to take CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation: an emergency procedure to create compressions on the chest ), but if you are not experienced then do not think to do it because it can cause more damage than doing good. Also, do not try to feed anything if the dog is having asphyxiation or vomit.
You can take your hand on the left side of your dog’s chest to determine the heart rate if you can count to a number of 15 seconds then multiply it by 4 which will give you the number of beats per minute. Always remember that the normal heart rate in a dog is around 60-140 bps.
If you see that your dog gas has fallen or have difficulty in moving then it’ not a good sign at all, in such situation you better to wrap him into a blanket & take him to the vet as soon as possible. Then the vet may listen to the heart to determine the abnormal murmur, puls, or arrrhythamia. However, the vet may take diagnosis to see if the cardia function is working properly or not.
EKG Electrocardiography: This test is normally taken to see the cardiac electrical impulse. This test also measures the arrhythmias.
CBC (Complete Blood Cell Count): Vets take this test to see white & red blood cells. This test also reveals if there is an infection.
Biochemistry: This test reveals liver & kidney failures
Urinalysis: This test is taken to see if the metabolic & the kidney is properly functioning or not
Thyroid: If your dog is having problems in thyroid gland functioning then this test will reveal it.
Echocardiography: This is a very well known test for determining the mass & fluid around the heart. If your dog’s heart valve & muscle is not working properly then the vet will get a confirmation by using this test
Chest X-ray: This test usually is taken to see the fluid around the heart and nay kind of masses.
If your dog’s condition is very serious then the vet may ask you to put a Holter monitor or EKG to keep tracking the heart health of your dog at home. In that case, you might also put electrodes on the chest for a day. By doing this, you will be able to track the heart rhythm & record it, but this whole procedure is only recommended when the dog is having abnormal heart activity. S
Depending on the condition of your dog, at first, the vet will take some resuscitation and supportive care. If the vet notices any abnormal heart activity then they may take some further test to evaluate the dog’s condition. If there is any problem in blood circulations then the vet may prescribe some medications to overcome the issue. If the condition is very serious then the vet will ask to keep the dog in the hospital for a few days.
Depending on the reason of abnormal cardiac activities the vet may prescribe different types of medications. However, if there is any mass that is responsible for stoping the regular blood flow then they may recommend a surgical procedure to remove those masses. For supportive care, you may have to follow the recommended diet plan & medications for your dog. The vet may recommend some antibiotics to stop further damage to vessels.& heart lining which normally caused by the infection or inflammation. If your dog is having arrhythmias then the vet will recommend antiarrhythmic.
When the dog becomes normal & stable they will let you know about it. Keep in mind that surgery or medications are useful if your dog’s condition is not very serious. If you take your dog to the vet then they can diagnose the issue earlier & this will save your dog’s life. You may need to provide medications to your dog after the procedure so that everything comes back to normal. However, if your dog becomes very weak & have difficulty in moving how a couple of days then you must hospitalize the dog.
After the heart attack, the life expectancy of dogs mainly depends on the level if that attack & the cause.
If your dog had hypothyroidism, heart disease or renal then you may need to give lifetime support & treatment. In that case, you have to install an ambulatory EKG recorder to track & monitor the heart activity of the dog for a couple of weeks.
You will have to limit the regular activities of your dog for a few months so that the heart condition becomes normal & stabilize. You may also need to change the diet plan or add dietary supplements if the vet recommends.
You should notice the symptoms of a heart attack. It’s a good idea to take the dog in a place where the surrounding is warm enough. Also, you should panic, just remain calm then you would be able to handle everything very easily.
Matthew Frank was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He was a reputed author of Pet Therapy Dogs and Pet Dog Cat.
Matthew is a regular author of this blog who is studying Veterinary medicine at Purdue University.