Key facts about heart disease in dogs

Many people are surprised that dogs can suffer from heart disease. In fact, it’s almost as common in dogs as it is in people. However, heart disease in dogs isn’t the result of a poor diet or lifestyle like in humans. It’s typically the result of general wear and tear on the heart as dogs age, although a small percentage of dogs are born with congenital heart disease.

Read on to find out more about heart disease, including symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options.

Signs of heart disease in dogs

Heart disease in dogs can go undetected for quite a long time period, as there are often no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. While as a pet owner you may not notice any changes in your dog, regular health checks by your vet are important to detect the early signs of heart disease. During check-ups, your vet will listen to your dog’s heart and is more likely to notice any subtle changes in your dog’s health.

Heart disease can turn into heart failure, which is when the heart becomes unable to meet the body’s demands. Heart failure presents itself with a number of symptoms, including:

  • Fast breathing (even when at rest or asleep)
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Lack of energy
  • Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Reduced appetite
  • Coughing

Diagnosis & treatment

If your vet suspects heart disease, or your dog displays any of the above symptoms, they will perform additional tests to confirm the diagnosis. This may include X-rays, ultrasounds or an ECG.

While heart disease (or heart failure) can’t be cured, your dog can still maintain a good quality of life. The earlier your dog is diagnosed, the better the outcome.

There are a range of medications available for heart disease and heart failure, which can help to manage the condition by helping your dog’s heart to work better.

Dogs with heart disease can still have a good quality of life


Most forms of heart disease in dogs can’t be prevented (other than disease caused by heartworm). However, regular health check-ups with your vet to ensure your pooch’s heart is monitored each year is the best way to catch the disease early. An early diagnosis allows your dog to start receiving treatment early, which will give your dog the best chance at a happy and long life.

We’re here to help

If you have any concerns about your dog’s heart health, we’re here to help. Contact the friendly team at our Gawler East small animal vet clinic on 08 8318 1801 to make an appointment, or book online.