Guide to Dog Heart Disease Symptoms and Treatment

" The many dog heart disease symptoms include dry cough, lethargy, intolerance to exercise, abnormal heart rate, ascites (fluid accumulation in the abdomen), pulmonary edema (fluid accumulation in the lungs), irregular respiration, fainting and loss of appetite. Sometimes, a dog with heart disease may not show any symptom at all and dies suddenly. Because of this, a dog should be examined every 4 to 6 months. Diagnosis of dog heart disease involves a detailed clinical examination, laboratory and radiographical tests. Specific canine heart problems should always be treated specifically. Dog heart disease symptoms can be controlled with supportive and symptomatic therapies. Natural remedies can help to improve the cardiac muscle strength and heart health. "

Forms of Dog Heart Disease:

Canine heart disease refers to a spectrum of abnormalities which affects different parts/features of the cardiac system. These diseases may be congenital (existing at birth), genetic, pathological (disease), anatomical/physiological disorders or infectious/parasitic in nature.

In either case, a dog heart problem is commonly exhibited by certain signs which are more prominent in middle age to older dogs. Most commonly found forms of dog heart diseases are usually related to cardiac failure, partial or complete failure of heart valves, blockage, cardiac myopathies and whole heart failure due to one-way pressure or some blockage.

Different conditions such as Dilated Cardiac Myopathies (DCM - weak heart), Chronic Valvular Disease (CVD), Myocarditis (inflamed heart), Hypertension and Heartworm disease are some of the most commonly occurring health problems related to heart disease in dogs.

Each of the above mentioned dog heart diseases has its own clinical features and characteristics identified only with a detailed clinical examination conducted by a veterinarian and in the laboratory with various tests and procedures.

However, a dog owner should always be aware of classical/typical dog heart disease symptoms, even traces of these symptoms should be immediately reported to a veterinarian, so that any possible underlying heart problem can be probed. It should be remembered that heart disease in dogs always progresses rapidly and can quickly cause worsened clinical patient status.

Dog Heart Disease Symptoms:

Typically, dog heart disease is characterized by certain symptoms, which are easily identifiable by most dog owners. A dog exhibiting symptoms such as intolerance and lack of interest in exercise, walks and jumping can be suspected for canine heart disease.

dog heart disease symptoms
Dog Heart Disease Symptoms - Fluid Accumulation (Ascites)

Similarly, symptoms such as a dry cough, irregular respiration, lethargy and loss of appetite over time should surely be suspected for any dog heart problem.

A dog with heart disease shows symptoms, which progress over time, and since the pumping action of the heart is badly affected, some systemic symptoms such as respiratory problems, ascites (accumulation of fluids in the abdomen), weakness, depression and overall physiological imperfection (change from normal function) is noted in advanced stages.


Careful identification of dog heart disease symptoms along with a detailed history and basic information about a dogs health are the initial steps toward confirming a diagnosis. Most veterinarians believe that clinical manifestations and history are the base criteria for diagnosis, on the basis of which specific laboratory procedures are performed for confirmation.

A dog should be throughly examined physically; common procedures such as determining if there are any heart sounds and murmurs, pulse, respiratory sounds, arrhythmias and detection of ascites (fluid accumulation) and pulmonary edema should be performed at the clinic, and with the help of a detailed history, an initial diagnostic assumption should be made before going for confirmation procedures.

In a laboratory, different procedures such as blood work, electrocardiography, echocardiograms, chest X-Rays, ultrasound and detailed patho-physiological studies are usually done in order to confirm any specific dog heart disease, assumed initially through the clinical procedures described above.


Specific treatment plans are always required in order to manage dog heart disease. It is certain that once the underlying form of canine heart disease is managed properly and effectively, dog heart disease symptoms will be reduced.

But, even then, along with specific medical and surgical treatment plans, symptomatic and supportive therapies are necessary for effective treatment. In order to reduce the dog heart disease symptoms, symptomatic therapies are usually focused on regulating heart beats, cardiac impulses, increasing the amount of blood for pumping and for achieving an improvement in cardiac muscle strength.

Similarly, symptoms such as ascites and respiratory edema (fluid buildup) are treated separately. Different symptomatic therapeutics are used for treating symptoms of lethargy, irregular respiration, intolerance and for enhancement of cardiac muscle strength.

Supportive supplements and tonics, natural remedies, nutrition and routine activities are required for timely recovery, improvement in overall physiology and the health/strength of cardiac muscles. Specific natural remedies to consider include Heart and Circulation Tonic and to improve heart health and Energy Tonic to help with issues such as lethargy.

It should be remembered that middle aged, older, obese and dogs with any previous hereditary cardiac history require more attention and care. Dogs with heart problems should be get examined every 4 – 6 months for any heart related issues. It has been noted that many dogs with latent heart disease never show any heart disease symptoms at all and may die suddenly.

Have A Canine Heart Disease Question or Helpful Story?

Have a Question, Request or Want to Share a Story that could help others? Our editors and pet health professionals will answer 1 question each week for free!

We will do our best to get back to you quickly (it depends on how many questions we receive each day). If you do require an immediate response we suggest using this online dog veterinary service that is available now.

[ ? ]

Upload 1-4 Pictures or Graphics (optional)[ ? ]


Click here to upload more images (optional)

Author Information (optional)

To receive credit as the author, enter your information below.

(first or full name)

(e.g., City, State, Country)

Submit Your Contribution

  •  submission guidelines.

(You can preview and edit on the next page)


Merck Veterinary Manual (Merck & Co.)

Washington State University School of Veterinary Medicine


Dog Health Search

[?] Subscribe To This Site

follow us in feedly
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My MSN
Subscribe with Bloglines