Congestive heart failure is a progressive disease that could have serious–even fatal consequences—for your dog; in today’s veterinary blog, signs your pet needs to seek treatment.

The sooner your pet is treated for heart disease, the better, as the heart’s primary function is to transport oxygen throughout the body. Common symptoms of heart disease in your dog - Veterinary Cardiology care.If the heart becomes weakened or ineffective, other body organs can be affected.

The vast majority of heart disease cases are discovered in middle-aged and older dogs. A few signs to look for that indicate your pet needs to be seen by a veterinarian include:

  • Shortness of breath. A rapid shallow breathing rate could be an indication of declining heart function and a reason to see your veterinarian.
  • Cough. Coughing is not normal in a dog. A dry cough after exercise or one that worsens at night is a concern.
  • Rapid Tiring. Poor exercise tolerance, panting at rest, stopping mid-walk on your typical route; these are signals of atypical behavior for your pet and should be evaluated by a veterinary professional.
  • Swollen Abdomen. When there is cardiac dysfunction, this may result in fluid build-up in the belly, creating a pot-bellied appearance. This could accompany muscle mass loss and lack of appetite—even though your pet appears larger vs. thinner.
  • Weight loss.
  • Fainting.

Seeking Veterinary Care. Your family vet will complete a thorough exam and ask detailed questions about your pet’s symptoms. (It may be helpful to have notes on your observations to ensure you do not forget any important symptoms).

There are times your family veterinarian will refer you to a specialist. Dr. Jason Arndt is a board certified veterinary cardiologist. WestVet's Cardiology specialist, Dr. Jason Arndt, provides advanced veterinary care to Idaho pets​He will collaborate with your family vet to diagnose heart disease. This may include lab work, an echocardiogram, or an ultrasound test called a Doppler echocardiograph, which measures exactly how the blood flows through the heart, making diagnosis very reliable. Once your pet’s heart condition is determined, a treatment plan will be developed.


If your pet is behaving acutely abnormally, whether or not you suspect a heart condition, it is always appropriate to consult your veterinarian right away. If your veterinarian is unavailable, WestVet is open and able to address your concerns 24 hours a day. 


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