Approximately 10% of all dogs in the US will develop heart disease at some point in their lives. Heart disease in dogs is a serious condition that can lead to other health problems. However, it is generally manageable in otherwise healthy dogs. As with any disease, the more complicating factors involved, the more difficult it becomes to manage.

Types of Heart Disease in Dogs

In dogs, there are two main types of heart conditions: one that impacts the heart valve and one that impacts the heart muscle.

The Valve

Chronic Degenerative Valvular Disease (CVD)—also known as degenerative mitral valve disease (DMVD)—is the most common form of heart disease in dogs, representing 75 percent of all cases. With this cardiac condition, the valves (tricuspid valve on the right and mitral valve on the left) of the heart slowly degenerate causing a thickening of the tissue. Over time, the degeneration begins to weaken the seal of the valves, which results in blood leaking backward into the upper chamber of the heart. The mitral valve is usually the most severely affected by this disease. CVD is often identified by a heart murmur, a whooshing sound that is created by the leaking blood. This disease generally impacts small breed dogs.

The Muscle

Canine Myocardial Disease, or dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), is characterized by ventricle and atrial dilation (enlargement). The role of the ventricles (left and right) is to collect and expel blood received from an atrium. DCM is a condition where the heart muscle (myocardium) loses its ability to contract normally and efficiently pump blood out of the heart. Blood begins to back up within the heart chambers and, as a result, the heart enlarges in size and the pressure significantly increases. Ultimately, DCM leads to congestive heart failure and pulmonary edema (excessive fluid in the lungs). This disease generally impacts large breed dogs.

Signs of Heart Disease in Dogs

Many of the early signs of heart disease are subtle and difficult for a non-professional to observe. As heart disease progresses, the symptoms generally become more obvious. The following are signs your pup may be experiencing one of the above heart conditions.

  • Fainting or collapsing
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Fatigue and overall lack of energy
  • Reduced appetite—weight loss
  • Change in behavior
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Coughing

Vet in Gilbert

If your dog is of a breed or age that is more at risk of developing heart disease, regular vet checkups are an important part of prevention and mitigation. If you’re looking for a compassionate vet near you in Gilbert, our team at East Valley Animal Hospital would love to care for your furry companion!


Photo by Wai Siew on Unsplash (6/2/2020)