Heart Health

Heart Health And The Family Dog

Humans have heart attacks and strokes, but did you know that dogs can also have them as well. An estimated 80% of all premature deaths in our pets are from heart disease or stroke and most could have been prevented. Just as a lack of knowledge can be fatal for us, it can also be fatal for the family pet.

First know that small dogs will have a quicker heart rate than larger dogs. Our habits can affect not only our health but the health of our pets. Tobacco (smoking), feeding our pets the wrong food (food with high amount of calories and salt, for example our left overs of potatoes and meat with gravy), or feeding them too much of their dog food, both which leads to them being over weight and supplying a lack of exercise can contribute to heart disease in your dog. Second hand tobacco has been known for years to lead to cancer and heart disease in human beings and it will also cause the same in the family pet. Over weight dogs are more likely to become diabetics as fat clogs the dog’s arteries, stressing their heart and eventually leading to a shortened life span. A lack of exercise also contributes to excess weight of your dog. A sedentary dog requires a longer time to slow its heart rate down after exercising. They can develop heart conditions that will not allow them to energetically play outside or even go for long walks. Stress and excitement will also increase the heart rate in a pet suffering from heart disease which can result in Cardiac Arrest and death.

Pups born with high heart rates or those that have heart Murmurs can live long lives as these conditions often disappear as the pup ages. An adult dog with an existing heart Murmur, however, should never be used for breeding purposes because a heart Murmur is highly hereditary.

Some other common heart diseases in dogs are: Congestive Heart Failure, Dilated Cardiomyopathy and Heartworm Disease (a parasite in the heart) with Congestive Heart Failure being the most common.

It is important to know the signs and symptoms of heart disease to ensure your dog lives a long life. Equally important is to focus on healthy life practices to ensure both you and your pet live long and healthy lives together.