Signs of Heart Failure..

Signs of Heart Failure in Your Dog

Written by: Alison Laurie, Senior Consultant, Crown Vets Inverness

The heart is the "pump" that transports blood which is rich in oxygen and nutrients to the cells and organs of the body and so provides them with the energy that they need to function properly, healthily and efficiently.

If your pet's heart is not working properly then a general poor blood circulation will result and the body as a whole can then be seriously affected.

Signs of heart failure in your dog

If your dog has heart failure he may display one or more of the following signs:

  • Breathlessness ( shortness of breath , rapid breathing , laboured breathing with increased effort ,panting more)
  • Coughing ( generally described as a "retch" or a "gag" - type cough)
  • Exercise intolerance and a reduced ability to exercise /lagging back on walks or sitting down on walks
  • General lethargy and tiredness
  • Weight loss despite a normal food intake
  • Pale gums 
  • An enlarged distended abdomen 
  • Fainting /collapse on exercise or when excited

Several medicines are now available that can often dramatically improve your dog’s quality of life if heart disease has been diagnosed by your Vet.  After definitive tests and a confirmed diagnosis, specific tailored treatments can improve blood circulation, correct over accumulation of fluid in the lungs and body, improve the contraction of the heart and protect the heart and blood vessels and body systems against further damage that poor heart function and circulation can cause.

It is also recommended that heart patients avoid any intense physical effort, are protected from heat and stress and also avoid any excessive weight gain and are fed an appropriate, advised diet. Your Vet will be able to advise you on any changes in his lifestyle ahead.

If you are at all concerned about your dog and you think that he may be displaying one or more of these noted clinical symptoms of heart failure, then do contact your Vet for an initial consultation and a general examination and heart check -up. If cardiac disease is diagnosed and treated appropriately, your dog will hopefully have a much better quality of life and a longer lifetime with you.