Heart disease affects 7 to 8 million dogs in the United States. Canine heart disease is common in many types of dog breeds and can be either congenital or developed later in life. Approximately 75 to 80% of dogs in the United States with heart disease have the variation known as mitral valve disease, a condition in which the mitral valve in the dog's heart degerates and begins leaking.
Smaller breeds of dogs, especially Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Chilhuahuas, Toy Poodles, and Dachshunds are prone to developing mitral valve disease. Meanwhile, larger canine breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, Old English Sheepdogs, Great Danes, German Shepherds and Irish Setters are more likely to develop issues with the tricuspid valve on the right side of the heart.
Large dogs can develop dilated cardiomyopathy, another type of heart disease that weakens the dog's heart muscle. This causes difficulties in contracting and pumping blood, which makes the heart work too hard and enlarge abnormally.
A heart murmur is a sure sign that your dog may have heart disease. Your veterinarian may recommend diagnostic tests to examine your canine's heart and test for how severe the heart condition is. Other signs your dog may be suffering from heart disease is when he or she shows reluctance for excersing, has an abnormal respiration rate, coughs, or has a blue tint on the gums or tongue.
As your dog's heart disease progresses, your canine companion will experience more severe symptoms, including weakness, loss of consciousness, abdominal enlargement from fluid retention, and difficulties lying down.
Although there is no cure for most kinds of canine heart disease, your dog's condition can be managed with medication. An early diagnosis is the best thing you can do for your pet so they can be treated with medication as soon as possible.
The good news is that even when your canine companion's heart disease is severe or congestive heart failure has developed, if he or she is treated as soon as possible they can still live a high quality of life for a good amount of time.