Skip to content

    Healthy Pets

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs

    Congenital Heart Disease in Dogs

    Your beloved pet can have heart problems just like you. Know the symptoms so you can get your companion the help she needs.

    Heart disease may lead to congestive heart failure. That's when your dog's heart has trouble pumping blood to the rest of its body.

    Heart disease can affect one side of the heart or sometimes both sides. It can progress slowly and may take years to spot.

    Causes

    Congenital means that the dog was born with a heart defect. But old age, injury, and infection can exacerbate it. Diet and exercise play roles too.

    Symptoms

    Take notice of these early symptoms of heart problems:

    More symptoms may develop, as the disease gets worse, including:

    • A swollen belly from fluid buildup in (called ascites)
    • Fainting because of blocked blood flow to the brain
    • Change in tongue or gum color to bluish gray because of poor oxygen flow
    • Weight loss as your dog loses her ability to store healthy fat

    Getting a Diagnosis

    Your vet will want to know any symptoms you've noticed. He or she will want to know what she eats, what medications and supplements she may be taking, and if she is current on heartworm protection.

    The vet will listen to your dog's chest and may want to run some tests, including:

    • A blood and urine test to check for any other problems that could be affecting your dog's heart.
    • Chest X-rays. These use radiation in low doses to make images of your dog's internal organs.
    • An EKG. This test measures electrical signals from your dog's heart and tells how fast it's beating and if that rhythm is healthy.
    • An ultrasound. Ultrasound uses sound waves to look at the size, shape, and movement of the heart.
    • Heartworm antigen test. Your vet will take blood from your dog to test it for heartworms.
    • Holter monitor. This is taped to your dog’s chest and worn for 24-48 hours to capture heart rhythms and rate.

    Today on WebMD

    Puppy digging hole
    Are you putting your pet at risk?
    Cat looking at fish
    Things we can learn from our pets.
     
    dog and kitten
    27 ways pets help your health.
    tick
    Get the facts about prevention.
     
    Woman holding puppy
    Article
    Sad dog and guacamole
    Slideshow
     
    Siamese cat eating from bowl
    Slideshow
    cat on couch
    Evaluator
     
    Cat People vs Dog People Slideshow
    Slideshow
    Kitten playing
    Quiz
     
    Orange cat nuzzling woman
    Slideshow
    German shephard reading a book
    Quiz