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

The heart is an incredibly important organ. It's the pump of your dog's body and it operates very much the same way as our hearts do. Your dog's heart health is incredibly important. When they come in to see us, we're going to listen to their heart and see how it sounds. We're listening for normal beats and any potential leaky valves.

Dr. Noel Lucas
Blue Oasis Pet Hospital

What's a veterinary cardiologist? Is there such a thing as a dog cardiologist?

Yes, there are dog cardiologists. They are board certified veterinarians that have gone on to get credentials in cardiology. They're pretty rare because it's a very specialized part of our veterinary professionals. Most of the time, we as general practitioners, are going to be your dog's heart specialist, and then we can partner with cardiologists.

What are some signs and symptoms of cardiovascular conditions in dogs?

Some signs and symptoms include exercise intolerance, coughing, and even fainting. If your dog has a heart valve that's not functioning well or is leaky, they can go on to have congestive heart failure. This can lead to them not being able to make it as far on walks, panting excessively, and fainting due to cardiac arrhythmias. Another symptom is when your dog is at rest, you may notice that they're having more exertion breathing, indicating potential cardiac disease.

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

You should bring your dog in right away because heart disease and cardiovascular issues can be life-threatening. If you think your dog is having any breathing problems, exercise intolerance, or coughing, and you're not quite sure why it's happening, then you need to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. We need to listen to your dog's heart and maybe even do some chest x-rays, ECG, and echocardiograms.

What kind of treatments are available for dogs with heart conditions?

We're lucky to live in modern veterinary medicine where we can borrow medications from human health for your dog's heart health issues. We also have some specifically made medications for your dog's heart disease that are scientifically studied and proven to work in dogs. We have lots of treatment options and ways we can diagnose the disease.

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

One of the biggest things you can do to prevent cardiovascular disease is heartworm prevention. Heartworms are carried by mosquitoes and if your dog is bitten by a mosquito with a heartworm larva, that starts its migration into your dog's circulatory system and it's going straight for your dog's heart. This is a cardiovascular disease that's completely preventable with preventative heartworm prevention. We really want you to talk to your veterinarian about your dog's heart health.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 975-2583 , or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram

Dog Cardiology - FAQs 1

Dr. Noel Lucas
Blue Oasis Pet Hospital

What's the first sign of a heart issue in dogs?

Sometimes you won't know that there's a heart issue until you see your veterinarian and we listen to your dog's heart and uncover a heart arrhythmia or maybe a murmur. If your dog does have heart disease and there are symptoms at home, you might notice the first sign that unfortunately pet parents see is a faint. So a dog just faints out in the yard because it has cardiovascular disease or an arrhythmia. Sometimes your dog may have an unknown heart disease and go into congestive heart failure and exhibit exercise intolerance, panting and coughing.

How do I know if my dog has a heart issue?

You may not know your dog has a heart issue until you actually bring your dog in for a good physical exam by a veterinarian and then we uncover that your dog has either a heart murmur or an arrhythmic beat. It's sometimes discoverable on that physical exam with your veterinarian that your dog has a suspected heart disease.

How are heart murmurs in dogs diagnosed?

We have to listen to your dog's heart and when we listen to it with our stethoscope, we're putting it on both sides of our chest walls and we're listening to all four heart valves. If there's a murmur, it sounds different. We grade that murmur depending on how loud it sounds to us. Sometimes if the murmur is loud enough, you can hear it with your ear. Most of the time a heart murmur is diagnosed by a veterinarian.

What does an echocardiogram show that an x-ray doesn't?

An echocardiogram, or echo, is an ultrasound of the heart. It's a different way that we can look at the heart as opposed to chest x-rays. They're both used together, an echo and chest x-rays, to get a complete picture of your dog's heart health. An echocardiogram is going to give us the clearest picture of what's happening in the dog's heart because we can see inside it. We can look at heart valves, chamber walls, and chamber sizes. However, if your dog has an arrhythmia, a chest x-ray or an echocardiogram is not going to give us the diagnosis that an ECG is going to give because that's going to diagnose an arrhythmic beat.

What's the prognosis for dogs with heart issues?

The prognosis depends on what the underlying diagnosis is. The vast majority of our heart disease dogs do have a fairly good prognosis when their diagnosis is made of having multiple months or even years of some treatment options. It just depends on the final diagnosis that your dog gets with its heart health and what treatment options are available and what is the abnormality of the heart to begin with to know what is the prognosis for that dog.

Do I need a cardiologist to diagnose heart issues in my dog?

A cardiologist is an expert on a dog's heart. They're going to give us the most expert diagnosis and treatment plan but we don't have to have them actually physically seeing your dog to be able to get that diagnosis. We can partner with cardiologists here in our day practice by telemedicine. We can send them x-rays, echocardiograms, ECGs, and pick up the phone and have conversations with them. So we can get the diagnostic tests done in our hospital that we need to to make that diagnosis if we have any problems or concerns or we want an expert opinion then we can reach out to our cardiologists and get a diagnosis and treatment plan from them without you ever having to go see a cardiologist.

What would you recommend for someone who suspects their dog might have heart disease?

If you suspect your dog might have heart disease or has heart disease and you just would like to learn more about it we recommend that you reach out to your veterinarian and ask those questions or schedule an appointment to come talk to the team here at Blue Oasis Pet Hospital.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 975-2583 , or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram

Dog Cardiology - FAQs 2

Dr. Noel Lucas
Blue Oasis Pet Hospital

What is the most common heart disease in dogs?

The most common heart disease in dogs is mitral valve insufficiency or degeneration. This condition occurs when the mitral valve of a dog's heart begins to age, a phenomenon especially seen in small breed dogs. As the valve ages, it becomes leaky, which we identify as a mitral valve murmur. These mitral valves can progress into left-sided heart failure, eventually leading to congestive heart failure.

Are there specific breeds that are more prone to certain heart diseases?

Yes, certain breeds are more prone to specific heart diseases. For instance, Great Danes and Golden Retrievers are often associated with dilated cardiomyopathy. Boxers, unfortunately, often suffer from boxer-related arrhythmias, leading to serious heart issues at a younger age.

What is a heart murmur in dogs?

A heart murmur in dogs happens when the valves of the heart do not close tightly. There's a gap that occurs in that heart valve, and every time the heart beats or pumps blood, some of that blood flows back and forth over the leaky valve. This back-and-forth flow is audible as a heart murmur, indicating a leaky heart valve.

What is cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy is a general term for abnormal heart conditions. This term includes conditions like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, where the heart gets thicker and the chambers get smaller, and dilated cardiomyopathy, where the heart muscle becomes thinner and the chambers enlarge.

Is diet an important part of a dog's heart health?

Yes, diet indeed plays an important part in a dog's heart health. It has been found that feeding long-term grain-free diets to dogs can potentially lead to a disease called dilated cardiomyopathy. Dogs fed on such diets have an over-representation of developing dilated cardiomyopathy. Veterinarians and researchers are still investigating the exact relationship between this diet and dilated cardiomyopathy. Therefore, the recommendation is to feed your dog a complete and balanced diet, which includes grains.

What is an enlarged heart for dogs?

An enlarged heart in dogs is a condition where there is too much blood pooling in the heart chambers. This can be due to a leaky heart valve, a genetic predisposition to dilated cardiomyopathy, or feeding a long-term grain-free diet.

What is heart failure in dogs?

Heart failure in dogs is a condition where the heart is unable to pump blood around the body efficiently, leading it into a state of failure. This doesn't mean the heart has stopped, but that it can't function as it used to and can't keep up with the body's demands. When the heart enters a failure state, fluid starts to leak out of the vessels into other spaces, causing symptoms such as labored breathing, coughing, or a rounded and barrel-shaped abdomen due to fluid buildup.

What should someone do if they suspect their dog may have heart disease?

If you suspect your dog may have any signs of heart disease or if you want to know more about your dog's heart health, it's recommended to contact your veterinarian or schedule an appointment with a pet hospital.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 975-2583 , or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram