Dog Heart Attack Symptoms

Dog heart attack can occur in all breeds. Genetic predisposition, underlying medical factors and abnormalities of the heart can increase the dog's risk of having a heart attack. In order to deal with pets suffering from a heart attack, it's necessary to understand and identify the symptoms of the attack when it's underway. Heart attack, also clinically termed as myocardial infarction, is an emergency situation that requires prompt medical treatment.

How Heart Attacks Occur

The canine heart is made up of several chambers and arteries that pump blood to various parts of the body. If a high deposit of plaque builds up in an artery, it reduces the amount of blood supply available to certain areas. This lack of blood supply often causes irregular heartbeats and eventually causes heart failure and heart attacks. Although heart attacks can cause sudden death, the attack often occurs due to accompanying health conditions such as diabetes or thyroid dysfunction. The severity of heart disease present influences the symptoms of heart attack and risk of death. Pet owners should avoid performing CPR on the dog unless trained to do so. It's also important to keep animal emergency help numbers at hand during such situations.

Symptoms of Dog Heart Attack Include:

  • Difficulty breathing which includes panting
  • Tilting of the head
  • Arrhythmia
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Seizures or sudden collapse
  • Stiffness of the forelimbs
  • Sudden death

Diagnosis and Treatment of Dog Heart Attack

Dogs suffering from heart attacks are subjected to quick diagnostic tests to determine the overall health condition. The vet will perform an initial physical examination and then conduct an ECG (echocardiogram) to determine abnormalities in different chambers of the heart. It also verifies the electrical activity present in the heart and identifies heart rate. In addition, the vet will perform chest X-rays and ultrasounds to detect underlying health concerns in the body. Pets suffering from a heart attack are treated with preliminary resuscitation procedures and supportive care to allow the heart to resume normalcy. The vet will also prescribe other heart medications that should be administered at home according to given instructions.

Tips for Pet Owners

Pet owners should notice the symptoms of a heart attack and make efforts to keep the pet comfortable. It's best to keep the dog in a warm environment and talk to the pet reassuringly. It's also important to stay calm and avoid administering any food or water during the attack. Due to the pain and discomfort associated with the heart attack, the dog may become aggressive. Pet owners should gently place a hand on the dog's chest to determine the pace of heartbeat.

Canine Heart Disease

Dogs suffering from heart disease should be monitored at home. It's important to conduct routine vet checks and administer prescribed medication on time. Prescribed medication shouldn't be discontinued unless otherwise directed by the vet. Dogs suffering from obesity, diabetes and hypothyroidism require additional care and dietary modification to prevent heart failure. Some dogs may also require a pacemaker to alter the heart rhythm.

Most heart disease can be treated with medication and supportive care to avoid heart failure and death. Prompt diagnosis and treatment increases the dog's chance of survival.