Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, Home Care and Life Expectancy
Heart disease is a common condition in dogs, especially as they age. The diagnosis is often picked up on a routine physical exam with the detection of a heart murmur. It can be scary to hear that your beloved pet has an issue with something as vital as their heart, but it is important to understand that with the right treatment and care, many dogs can continue to lead happy and comfortable lives. This guide will cover everything you need to know about heart disease in dogs, including causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and at-home care tips. We will also touch on quality of life and the value of palliative care, to keep your pet as comfortable for as long as possible.
A heart murmur is an abnormal sound heard when listening to a dogs heart with a stethoscope. Normally, a dogs heart produces two distinct sounds, described as “lub” and “dub.” A heart murmur is an extra sound that can be heard between the two sounds, creating a “shooshing” or “whooshing” sound. This sound indicates turbulent blood flow through the heart. This turbulence can be created by any change to the normal smooth movement of blood through the heart. This includes narrowing, expansion, obstructions, other structural changes and changes to the consistency of the blood.
A heart murmur’s grade, ranging from 1 to 6, describes the loudness of the murmur. A grade 1 heart murmur is soft, while a grade 6 heart murmur is loud and can be felt with a hand on the chest. In dogs, higher grades usually indicate more significant heart disease.
Heart disease refers to any condition that affects the heart’s ability to function properly. There are several different types of heart disease that can affect dogs, including:
There are several types of heart disease that can affect dogs, each with its own set of causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
Some of the most common types of heart disease in dogs include:
The symptoms of heart disease in dogs can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. Some common symptoms include:
If you notice any of these signs, book a consultation with your veterinarian to discuss possible causes and perform any indicated diagnostics.
Once a heart murmur has been detected by your veterinarian, further diagnostics can help identify the cause, indicate the severity, track disease progress and treatment efficacy and more.
The treatment of heart disease in dogs will depend on the type and severity of the condition. Some common treatments include:
The medical management of heart disease can be confusing and overwhelming. Speak to your regular veterinarian or get in touch with our team today for a personalised discussion.
Here are some tips to help you optimise your dog’s care at home:
An in-home veterinary assessment can also be helpful to identify any other areas of improvement, that can help your beloved pet stay comfortable for as long as possible.
The prognosis for dogs with heart disease varies depending on the type of heart disease, the severity of the disease, and how well it responds to treatment.
While some dogs with heart disease can live for several years with appropriate treatment and management, others may have a shorter life expectancy. Your veterinarian can provide you with a more accurate prognosis based on your dog’s individual case.
For MMVD, the most common type of heart disease in dogs, approximately one-third (30%) of dogs diagnosed will experience significant disease. Early diagnosis and treatment are vital to slowing down the progression of the disease.
Unfortunately, once a dog with MMVD has signs of congestive heart failure, the disease is almost always terminal, with end-of-life decisions often made within 6 to 18 months. At this stage, their quality of life is significantly impacted, and palliative care or euthanasia may be the kindest options.
If your dog’s heart disease has progressed to a point where treatment is no longer effective or its symptoms are too severe, it’s important to consider end-of-life care options, including possibly putting your dog to sleep (euthanasia). This can be an overwhelming and distressing thing to even think about. Your regular veterinary clinic and our team at Rest Your Paws are here to support you and provide compassionate care for your beloved pet throughout their journey.
Here are some end-of-life care tips for dogs with heart disease:
We understand that facing a diagnosis of heart disease in your beloved dog can be a difficult and emotional time. However, with early detection, proper treatment, and careful management, your dog can continue to enjoy a happy and fulfilling life. Remember to work closely with your veterinarian to develop a comprehensive care plan that meets your dog’s needs. As your dog’s caretaker, staying positive and providing plenty of love and support throughout the journey is important. Cherish the time you have with your furry companion, and make every moment count.
Reach out to your regular veterinary clinic or our team for the guidance and care you and your furry friend deserve. If you want to learn more about putting your pet to sleep, dog euthanasia at home, options to put your pet down at home, costs of euthanasia at home or what it looks like to put your pet to sleep at home, speak to your vet, call us on 0422 157 675 or visit our website.
We offer in-home palliative care and euthanasia for cats and dogs 7 days a week across Australia. Support your beloved pets in comfort and say goodbye with peace and dignity with professional and experienced end-of-life support.