Posts Tagged: heart disease

My dog is at risk for heart disease. Now what?

heart disease

The early signs of heart disease can look similar to other conditions.  Early diagnosis makes heart disease easier to manage.  Dr. Anna Coffin will describe what needs to be done in order to distinguish heart disease from other problems.

To identify if your dog is at risk and showing signs of heart disease, please read:  Do you know the signs of heart disease?  If your dog is over 7 years of age, a high-risk breed or if you have seen 2 or more of the signs of heart disease, call and schedule an appointment right away to talk to your veterinarian about heart disease and heart failure.

What happens during a heart exam?

1.  History:  Your veterinarian will need to know the age, breed and previous medical history of your dog.  Your veterinarian will also need to know the following:

  • Changes in attitude, behavior, and activity level
  • Changes in breathing
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Sleeping habits
  • Previous evidence of heart disease
  • Previous treatment history
  • List of medications your dog is currently taking

2.  Physical exam:   Your veterinarian will perform a comprehensive physical exam.  For heart disease, your veterinarian will evaluate:heart disease

  • Weight and body condition
  • Respiratory rate
  • Heart rate
  • Pulse
  • Abdominal shape
  • Lung sounds

3.  Listening to your dog’s heart and lungs:  Your veterinarian will use a stethoscope to determine if a heart murmur is present.  A murmur occurs when there is abnormal blood flow through the heart valves.  This is an early indication of valve disease.  An abnormal heart rate and rhythm can also help determine if heart disease is present.  Abnormal lung sound can be an indication of heart failure.

4.  X-rays:  X-rays can help your veterinarian evaluate the size and shape of the heart and detect if fluid is building up in the lungs.

5.  Additional tests: 

  • Blood testing for markers of heart disease
  • Blood pressure
  • EKG
  • Heart ultrasound:  Your veterinarian may refer you to a veterinary cardiologist for this procedure.  A heart ultrasound will determine the cause of the heart murmur and evaluate if the heart muscle is healthy.

Your veterinarian will recommend a treatment protocol if your dog is diagnosed with heart failure.  Your dog’s treatment will vary depending on your dog’s type and stage of their heart disease.  There is no cure for heart failure, but with the help of your veterinarian, early diagnosis and treatment can prolong and improve your dog’s life.

Call not to schedule a heart exam.  Dr. Anna Coffin may be able to help detect heart disease and give you advice on how you can help your dog.

If you have an Ask Dr. Anna question you would like answered, please post them in the comment section. Stay up to date on all the latest by subscribing to my blog.  Also “like” me on Facebook.

Dr. Anna was born and raised in Guthrie, Oklahoma. As a teenager, Dr. Anna found her beloved pet dead on the side of the road left to die without any help. That was the moment she decided to become a vet and vowed to help other people and their pets. After a few years of practicing in New Hampshire, Dr. Anna became homesick and decided to return to Guthrie to be with her parents and five other siblings. Family and friends are a major part of our lives which is why we treat our clients at Guthrie Pet Hospital as family.  Dr. Anna and her husband do not have children but are very proud pet parents and therefore, treat every four-legged friend as part of the family.

border decoration
border decoration