Your Dog’s Circulation
The heart is a part of the circulatory system along with the lungs and blood vessels. Each contraction of the heart muscle pumps blood around your dog’s body, supplying the organs with the energy and oxygen they need, while at the same time carrying away the waste products.
Heart Disease in Dogs
How common is heart disease in dogs?
About 10% of all dogs have some type of heart disease. Most importantly, the incidence of heart disease increases dramatically with age. The incidence of heart disease increases to more than 60% in aged dogs. This is particularly the case in dogs with valvular heart disease:
• About 10% of dogs between the ages of 5 and 8 years are affected
• 20-25% of dogs between the ages of 9 and 12 years are affected
• 30-35% of dogs more than 13 years are affected
• 75% of dogs over 16 years are affected
If your dog has been diagnosed with heart disease, don't lose hope. With early diagnosis and appropriate treatment and management, you increase your dog's opportunity to live a more normal life.
What Are the Causes of Heart Disease?
There are several ways your dog can be affected by heart disease:
Acquired Heart Disease
• Accounts for 95% of all heart conditions
• Disease that develops during the course of your dog's life
Principal causes of acquired heart disease:
Atrioventricular Valvular Insufficiency (AVVI) or mitral valve disease is the most common form of heart disease in the dog. Three quarters (75%) of the cases of canine heart disease in North America are caused by chronic valve disease. As the name suggests, this disease affects one or more of the heart valves. Heart valves normally form a perfect seal when closed. However, in valve disease one or more of these valves "leak," allowing blood to be pumped backwards. This backward flow creates a noise, called a murmur, which your vet can hear with a stethoscope.
Valvular disease is 1.5 times more common in male dogs than females. This form of heart disease usually occurs in small- to medium-size dogs, less than 44 pounds (20 kg). The most susceptible breeds are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Poodles, Schnauzers, Chihuahuas, and Fox Terriers.
What Is Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)?
DCM is the second most common form of heart disease in a dog. DCM is a disease of the heart muscle itself where the dog's heart fails to pump effectively. The contractions of the heart are weak and therefore blood is not pumped through the body efficiently. Typically, the heart stretches and enlarges, which over time further decreases its ability to pump blood around the body. DCM usually occurs in medium- to large-breed dogs such as Dobermans, Boxers, Great Danes, Dalmatians, Irish Wolfhounds, St. Bernards, English Bulldogs, and Cocker Spaniels.
How Will Heart Disease Affect My Dog?
Most forms of heart disease will, unfortunately, eventually result in heart failure. Heart failure occurs when the heart, weakened by disease, fails to pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. If your dog has been diagnosed with heart disease, don't panic. With early diagnosis and appropriate treatment and management, you increase your dog's opportunity to live a more normal life.
Diagnosis and Detection
How is a heart problem diagnosed? It is important for you and your dog to make regular visits to your veterinarian. Early diagnosis and treatment will ensure your dog leads a happier, healthier, and longer life. Your veterinarian will follow a series of key steps and use some of the latest diagnostic tools to distinguish heart disease from respiratory problems.
1. Clinical History...The veterinarian will need to know the age, breed, and medical history of your dog. He/she will evaluate the onset and type of cough and may ask about:
• 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
2. Physical Examination...A thorough physical examination will provide your veterinarian with clues as to whether your dog has any heart-related problems. He/she will then evaluate:
• Weight and body condition
• Breathing rates
• Heart rates
• Pulse rates
• Skin or tissue abnormalities
• Abdominal shape
3. Listening to your dog's heart and lungs...A stethoscope may allow your veterinarian to determine if a heart murmur is present (Appreciate that not all murmurs are easily heard). Also, the heart rate and rhythm can be assessed with a stethoscope to determine if there is an irregular heartbeat. He/she can listen to the lungs to detect abnormal sounds.
4. X-rays...Technically known as radiographs, x-rays can help the veterinarian evaluate the size and shape of the heart and assess the severity of your dog's heart disease as well as allowing a veterinarian to view your dog’s other internal organs.
5. Additional tests:
What are the signs of heart disease? In the early stages of heart disease, your dog's body may make adjustments to allow him or her to cope with the disease. During this stage of the disease your dog may show no visible signs of being unwell.
As time goes by and the disease progresses into clinical heart failure, your dog's body will no longer be able to make adjustments for the disease progression. At this stage, owners often notice deterioration in their dog's health. Signs of heart failure in your dog that you may notice include any of the following in any combination:
Commonly Affected Breeds
The following breeds are more likely to develop atrioventricular valvular insufficiency (AVVI):
• Boston Terrier
• Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
• Fox Terrier
• Miniature Pinscher
• Miniature and Toy Poodles
• Miniature Schnauzer
The following breeds are more likely to develop dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM):
• Afghan Hound
• American Cocker Spaniel
• Doberman Pinscher
• English Bulldog
• English Cocker Spaniel
• Great Dane
• Irish Wolfhound
• Saint Bernard
• Scottish Deerhound
Treating Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
Although there is no cure for the common causes of heart failure in dogs, there are treatments available that can greatly improve and extend your dog’s life. If your dog has been diagnosed with heart failure and clinical signs are visible, it is likely that your veterinarian will recommend a treatment program. Your dog’s treatment program will vary according to your dog’s individual needs and the type and stage of heart disease.
CHF Treatment Considerations
It is important to remember that treatment for CHF does not cure the disease, but it can help your dog resume a more normal life. Your veterinarian may recommend one or more of the following medical treatments:
Also, your veterinarian will closely monitor your dog's medication(s) to determine if adjustments need to be made. Always consult your veterinarian if you notice any change in the behavior or activity of your dog, particularly during the first few days of treatment.
Caring for Your Dog with CHF
Adapted from: http://www.yourdogsheart.com/your_dogs_heart/index.php
Sponsored by: Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.
© 2011 Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.
The Ohio State Buckeyes basketball played the Spartans of Michigan State yesterday in Columbus. Over the last 10-15 years, these 2 teams have been the class of the Big 10 conference and this year is no different. Well, one of the teams showed up to play and it sure wasn't the Buckeyes! The Michigan State players played like the game really meant something while the Buckeyes seemed to be just going through the motions. The result was an impressive thumping by the Spartans. Unlike college football, a loss like this probably won't cause any overall damage to the Buckeyes' season...however, it should definitely get their attention about having to play better as the NCAA Tournament gets closer.
Desperado and Helpful Buckeye had a really nice evening celebration of Desperado's "Big" Birthday on Thursday...accompanied by good friends, one of whom had her birthday the same day. Desperado's horoscope predicts a pretty good year...so, we're awaiting that with open arms! After the numerous difficulties we went through last year, this quote from the author of "The Great Gatsby" will be our current mantra:
“Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over."
--F. Scott Fitzgerald, American author
With Mardi Gras rapidly approaching, we're starting early on the preparation of food and compilation of music for our Mardi Gras dinner party at the end of this week. The combination of Cajun, Creole, and Zydeco foods and music presents a wonderful expectation for the culinary and acoustic senses...bring it on! Laissez les bons temps rouler...as they say down in the Big Easy!
This Tuesday, the 14th of February, 2012, is not only Valentine's Day, but also the Centennial of Arizona, the youngest of the "lower 48" states. Desperado and Helpful Buckeye's adopted state has provided many attractions for us and we have attempted to see as much of it as possible. The history, cultural mixes, foods, visual beauty, and, yes, some wacky, out of the blue locations have been a real joy to witness and experience. We still have a lot we plan to see this year....
~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~