Since February is Heart Health Month, I’m curious to know more about my dog’s risk for heart problems. What are some signs of heart disease in my dog?
– Heart-Healthy in The Heights
What a timely question for this month, starring hearts and love and how lucky is your dog that his owner loves him enough to care about his heart health? Heart disease is scary and the quicker you can identify it the better. Vets have compiled a list of the 5 most common signs of heart disease in dogs.
• Elevated respiratory rate: The most subtle (but the most reliable) sign of a heart problem is a faster-than-usual respiratory rate at rest. This can be very hard to notice if you are not looking for it. If you know your dog has a heart problem, your vet may recommend that you learn your dog’s normal character and rate of breathing at rest, so that you may recognize a problem in the future if you become concerned.
• Cough: The most common reason a dog with heart disease is seen by a veterinarian is due to the development of a cough. The cough may be a dry hacking cough that sounds like your pet gags after coughing. Some describe it as if their pet is “trying to hack up a hairball” at the end of the coughing spell. Others describe an occasional moist cough. Coughing is never normal in a dog. So, if your pet does develop a cough for any reason, especially if you have been told that your pet has a heart murmur, you should seek veterinary attention sooner than later.
• Rapid tiring: If you take your dog out for his usual walk and you notice that he does not want to walk the usual mile, but instead stops at the third or fourth block, sits down and pants, this may mean he is tiring sooner than he used to. This could be a sign of what vets call, “poor exercise tolerance.” There are several reasons for such lack of exercise tolerance, however, weakening of the heart muscle from heart disease is high on the list, and should be investigated.
• Pot belly: Weakening of the heart muscle from heart disease can also result in poor forward flow of blood, which then causes fluid buildup in the belly. This manifests as a sudden or gradual onset of a pot-bellied appearance. There are also other reasons why this could occur, but you will definitely want to see a veterinarian regardless the reason.
• Fainting: A less common, but more alarming sign, is fainting (which can look like seizures) when your pet gets very excited. This is very scary but they often faint and then quickly recover from the episode. If your dog is doing this, take them to the vet immediately.
Did you know?
You still have a few more days to take advantage of Friends For Life’s special adoption promotion for the month of February. Through the end of the month, you can adopt a pet for $14 (or less)! All Friends For Life pets come fully vetted and ready to go! Go to: www.friends4life.org for more info.
Do you have a question for Tabby? If so, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet Junebug. Junebug is a 1-2 year old Rottweiler who was picked up by animal control. She quickly became a shelter favorite, due to her happygo-lucky personality. Junebug is fully-vetted and has a clean bill of health. She won’t disappoint you, we promise. To learn more, go to www.scoutshonor.org.