How can cardiovascular conditions impact the health and well-being of my dog?

The heart is a very important organ and can affect your dog's health significantly. Any cardiology condition can make your dog feel lethargic and cause coughing or other respiratory symptoms.

Dr. Heather Vargo
Highland Park Animal Hospital

What are some signs and symptoms of a cardiovascular condition in my dog?

Some signs include abdominal swelling, shortness of breath, trouble exercising, and coughing. Those are the main ones we see.

How soon should I bring my dog in to see a veterinarian if I suspect heart issues?

If you suspect a heart issue, you should bring your dog in immediately because the sooner we get to it, the better chance we have of helping your dog.

How will a veterinarian diagnose cardiovascular disease in my dog?

The most important thing is a physical exam. We'll first listen to your dog with a stethoscope to see if there's a heart murmur or any fluid in the lungs. Then we can proceed with other tests, like x-rays or an ultrasound.

What kinds of treatments are available for dogs with heart problems?

It depends on the heart problem, but several medications can help your dog's heart pump more efficiently to give your dog a better quality of life for a very long time. There are some procedures that a board-certified cardiologist could perform for some congenital heart defects to help lengthen your dog's life.

Why is early detection and diagnosis of cardiovascular disease in dogs so important?

It's very important because the sooner we diagnose it, the better the prognosis. By starting some medications for dogs, we can increase the time before they go into heart failure by over a year, which is significant.

What types of preventative care can help my dog avoid cardiovascular issues?

Yearly physical exams are extremely important to detect any issues early. Good nutrition is also essential because some diets, like boutique diets or grain-free diets, have been linked to heart disease.

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