Treating Enlarged Heart

by Stan
(New York, NY)

Reader Question: How To Treat An Enlarged Dog Heart?

My 14 year old Pug had aspiration pneumonia. With the X-rays that showed the pneumonia she was put on antibiotics to clear that infection up, and it did. The x-ray also showed an enlarged heart. She has had a partially collapsed trachea (sp) which she has had for quite a few years. Most everything I have read is that an enlarged heart usually presents itself with larger dogs. Could the initial cause with the pneumonia have caused her heart to become enlarged? My vet is now suggesting that she go on amlodipine for the heart condition.

She is not on any meds for her heart at this time. She has however woken up panting last evening and I am concerned that she should be on something, as panting can be a part of this heart condition.

So my question is where do we go from here to treat her?

Veterinarian Recommended Steps For Treating Enlarged Canine Heart


I find evaluating chest x-rays in pugs (particularly if they also have a collapsing trachea and are perhaps not completely filling their lungs with air) very challenging. Their hearts almost always look larger than normal! Other than the one episode of panting, have you noticed any other clinical signs of heart disease – exercise intolerance, coughing over and above what you normally see with her collapsing trachea, breathing that is rapid or requires extra effort?

Pugs can develop several different types of heart disease that result in heart enlargement, but if you have any questions about your dog’s diagnosis, make an appointment with a veterinary cardiologist for a second opinion. If he or she agrees that your dog’s heart is enlarged, a cardiac ultrasound can identify the specific reason why, and the doctor can then make specific treatment recommendations.

I do find the prescription for amlodipine a little odd. Does your dog have high blood pressure? That is what this drug is most commonly used for, although it can play a role in the treatment of heart failure, when other, more commonly used drugs are not sufficiently effective.

Good luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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