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
Since there is so much talk of hearts (both the Valentine’s Day sort as well as the major organ) this month, it’s a good idea to talk about what heart disease looks like in our four-legged friends, too. Heart disease is scary and the quicker you can identify it the better.
Veterinarians have compiled a list of the five most common signs of heart disease in dogs:
- Elevated respiratory rate: The most subtle (but 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, but 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 of 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.
Friends for Life Cupid’s Crawl Pub Run
Speaking of healthy hearts, join our friends over at Friends For Life (and the Kung Fu Running Club) for their biggest local event of the year, held Saturday. Whether you’re taken, single or everything is just a little complicated, you don’t want to miss out on enjoying a little fun run up and down Washington Avenue. This 5K includes Kung Fu Saloon, NettBar, Underdogs Sports Pub, Porch Swing Pub and HandleBar. Online registration is $45 now but will increase to $50 on the day of. Running may be optional, but you must take advantage of this sweet deal! Proceeds go to benefit the animal shelter. Go to: www.friends4life.org for more info.
Do you have a question for Tabby? If so, email her at email@example.com.
Pet of the Week
This 3-year-old mixed breed is a showstopper in the looks department, with a head-turning temperament to match. Hansel has wonderful manners and would love to find a forever home with humans who work from home and even another dog to hang out with. The dog park is Hansel’s idea of heaven, so someone willing to go on adventures with this boy would be the ideal candidate. To follow the breadcrumb trail to this handsome boy, go to www.friends4life.org for more information.