The Heart of The Matter – Canine Heart Disease

Research shows that approximately 10% of all dogs have some form of heart disease. It may be of no surprise that the incidence of heart disease increases with age.

Heart disease may be congenital (present from birth) or acquired (develops during the course of the dog’s life.)

Early diagnosis combined with appropriate treatment and management greatly increases the dog’s opportunity to live a more normal life therefore a diagnosis of heart disease does not need to cause panic.

Common signs of heart disease can include:

  • Coughing.
  • Changes in breathing patterns such as shortness of breath or labored breathing.
  • Changes in behavior such as tiring more easily, reluctance to exercise or becoming withdrawn.
  • Oedema, swelling of body tissue, may be shown as swelling in the abdomen and/or extremities.
  • Restlessness.
  • Fainting/collapsing.

Just like you, your dog needs good habits to stay in tip top condition and keep the heart healthy.

  • Your dog’s diet needs to be well-balanced and made up of high-quality ingredients. Your vet or vet nurse is best placed to discuss the most suitable diet for your dog.
  • Maintain your dog’s ideal body weight. Being overweight makes the heart work harder.
  • Regular exercise will keep your dog in great shape. Exercise requirements will differ according to sex, breed, age and health.
  • Routine checkups – take your dog to the vets at least once a year (Remember – once yearly for your dog is about once every 5-7 years in people years!). Early diagnosis and treatment will ensure your dog leads a happier, healthier and longer life.

More information on canine heart disease can be found at

Heart disease can also affect cats. More information in feline heart disease can be found at