Heart disease represents a series of diseases that impact the structure or functioning of the heart. Among the most common heart conditions in dogs are: arrhythmias, valvulopathies ( Degenerative mitral valve disease being among the most cited as frequency), cardiomyopathies (Ex. Dilative cardiomyopathy), Heart failure (eg congestion most often associated with chronic) etc.
Risk factors are certain conditions that increase an individual’s risk of developing heart disease. They can be reversible factors/modifiable, namely those factors that can be controlled, treated or changed and irreversible factors, which cannot be changed or modified.
The more risk factors there are, the more likely it is that a dog will develop heart disease.
Irreversible risk factors:
- Age is advancing. The likelihood of developing heart disease increases with age.
- Flavor. There are breeds that are prone to developing heart disease, respectively, statistics show an increased incidence of heart disease in certain breeds of dogs.
- Among the highest risk breeds we mention: Boston Terrier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Fox Terrier, Pinscher, Bichon, Dwarf Schnauzer, Pekingese, ETC.
- Talia. Contrary to many people’s beliefs, small dogs, toys and miniatures are the most prone to this disease.
- Sex. According to statistics, there is a much higher incidence of heart disease, especially mitral valve disease in males. This refers to the fact that the percentage of predisposition is slightly higher in males than in females. This does not in any way preclude the likelihood of developing these conditions in females, respectively does not diminish it in terms of risk.
- Genetics– The dog’s genealogical history. As in the case of humans, if there is a history of a cardiovascular disease in the family tree, especially: parents, grandparents, this can be an additional risk.
Because these factors are “given” and cannot be changed, it is important to consider and focus on reversible factors in order to reduce our dog’s risk of developing heart disease.
Reversible risk factors:
- Food – “We are what we eat” – this expression is no exception for anyone regardless of species. Food is an important source of maintenance not only for the body’s activities but also for its health and balance. Adequate food means first of all a food that ensures the specific intake of nutrients, vitamins and minerals necessary for each dog. It is recommended to choose a quality food that meets all the needs of the breed, age and particular where appropriate. Quality food does not mean, as we often think, “What’s more expensive”. In general, the quality of the food is defined by its composition, the type of ingredients, the ratio of the ingredients, their origin; further intervening only the subjective part related to the degree of palatability and assimilation.
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- The weight. As in the case of humans, the weight and body surface area is higher, the more demanding the heart becomes. ). Thus, it is important to always take care of the dog’s weight, weighing it periodically, giving him the right food and quantity, the necessary movement and the hydration he needs.
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- The movement. The heart does not forget its muscle structure, so any other mushi needs training to stay strong and healthy. Exercise improves the way the heart pumps blood into the body, while helping to regulate blood pressure and weight.
– Stress do not take into account the species. Although stress is not considered a traditional risk factor, especially when it comes to animals, it can still exist in the dog’s life. As in the case of humans, it makes a relevant contribution to the potentiation of existing risk factors. Keep your dog away from stress by creating an environment specific to the species, breed and specific needs. Stress is not just about having a strictly mental trigger but also external factors, including environmental ones. From the thermal conditions that can sometimes be excessive to the conditions of the internal environment: dehydration, sleep, etc. As for us, it is important for them to feel comfortable, to have regular activities and relaxation.
– Comorbiditatile: the existence of other conditions which can expose your dog to developing heart disease:
- Keep them Diabetes under control . Diabetes occurs when the body can no longer produce insulin or use the insulin it has. This leads to an increase in blood sugar. Dogs with diabetes have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease because diabetes potentiates the action of other risk factors. Keeping diabetes under control is essential to reduce the risk.
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- Keep them kidney disease under control .Most of the time, the homeostasis of a system influences the general homeostasis, so the reverse of the medal also takes place. When there is an imbalance at a certain level in the body it can lead to imbalance in other systems. For example, in the case of the renal system, damage to the kidneys and the accumulation of debris in the blood can cause hypertension, which in turn can lead to a heart condition.
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- Keep periodontitis under control. Periodontitis can develop as a systemic disease. Although the most visible and well-known clinical expression is in the dentition, depending on the cause it can evolve, generally targeting the heart and the bone support. In the literature there are many theories related to this pathology, which was initially summarized only in the field of dentistry. Statistically, most dogs that suffer from this condition end up having a heart condition. The common link between these two types of disease is due to bacterial determinism and common genetic predisposition.
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Unfortunately, most of the early stages of heart disease have a hidden symptom that is difficult for the owner to detect. This fact means that in veterinary practice most of the time, the owner presents himself with the dog that is already in an advanced stage of these diseases. In these situations, after diagnosis, a treatment is instituted, most of the time given for a long time throughout his life.
Unfortunately, for most heart disease pathologies, the treatment is not one that effectively cures the cause but a support, control and maintenance of a physiological status and comfort of life, without which the consequences can be fatal.
The best prevention measures are:
– Reduction risks development of heart disease.
– Periodic veterinary examination. Especially if your dog is in a risk category, an additional cardiac checkup is recommended. Most early-stage heart disease without clinical expression can be detected most often by echocardiography.
– When encountering the risk factor of age, breed or genetics, it is recommended to consult with your veterinarian to determine if it is necessary to include in the daily diet of the dog. food supplements special.
– Let’s pay attention signs of heart disease in dogs:
- Dry cough if followed by physical activity and if it intensifies at night.
- Night cough
- Breathing: short or high
- Anxiety during sleep
- Rapid weight loss (no lifestyle changes or diet),
- Epileptic seizures
- Increased abdomen due to fluid accumulation,
- Rapid fatigue, lethargy