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Dog Heart Attack Symptoms

Dog Heart Attack Symptoms
How does one identify that his/her dog is having a heart attack? What kind of help should one get to his dog in such a situation? You'll find the answers to these and some more questions in this article.
Reshma Jirage
Last Updated: Jan 19, 2018
Many dogs suffer from various heart diseases. The causes are quite similar to those in humans. Old age, diabetes and obesity are the main triggers. In young dogs, heart failure can result from congenital abnormalities while in case of older dogs it can be due to altered circulatory patterns. If the coronary arteries are blocked or narrowed due to hardened plaque of fats, it obstructs the flow of blood to the myocardium. This results in a heart attack. Obese or diabetic dogs are at a greater risk of coronary artery blockage. Dogs mostly suffer from the weakening of heart muscles, resulting in congestive heart failure.
The Symptoms
Your dog cannot explain the symptoms of his illness to you. Hence, it becomes your responsibility to understand the symptoms and get them treated immediately. When a dog has a heart attack, he will exhibit the following symptoms:
  • Physical discomfort due to pain in the center of the chest
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Reluctance or difficulty in standing or moving around owing to pain in fore limbs
  • He may try to stretch and crane his neck sideways
  • The eyes may get drowsy and there may even be a fainting episode
There are two types of congestive heart failure (CHF) in dogs: right-sided CHF and left-sided CHF. Some of the common symptoms of left-sided CHF are:
  • Rapid breathing
  • Coughing
  • Intolerance to exercise
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Fainting
If the dog suffers from right-sided CHF, then the symptoms are:
  • Swollen abdomen due to fluid buildup
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Intolerance to exercise
  • Coughing
  • Swelling of the limbs
If you notice that your dog appears depressed, inactive and has consistent fatigue, constant coughing, and body swelling then it indicates the possibility of heart disease and potential heart failure. You should immediately consult the veterinarian to seek appropriate treatment.
The Causes
Some of the most common causes of congestive heart failure in dogs include heartworm, cardiomyopathy, congenital heart defects, arrhythmia, degeneration of heart valves and inflammation of the pericardium. Large breeds of dogs are more prone to heart disease than the smaller breeds. Some dog breeds such as Great Danes, Boxers, Dobermans, Scottish Deerhounds and Irish Wolfhounds are genetically more prone to this disease.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A veterinarian makes the diagnosis of congestive heart failure in dogs by checking his heartbeats using a stethoscope. Other procedures to diagnose heart failure are measuring the blood pressure, taking X-ray, electrocardiogram, and echocardiogram.

Depending upon the cause of heart failure, the treatment plan is decided. The dog is hospitalized to stabilize his condition and keep him/her under medical observation. Thoracocentesis is done to remove the accumulated fluid from the lungs. The dog is treated with nitroglycerine paste, digoxin and angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor drugs. The dog is fed a low sodium diet and nutritional supplements.
Even a dog requires as much care and attention as a human does, especially, when he goes through something as scary and dangerous as a heart attack. So, if your dog exhibits these symptoms, get him checked ASAP to help make him feel better and healthy again.
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