The Surgical Treatment of Canine Heart Disease

Canine heart disease is a serious, life-threatening condition that affects a significant number of dogs. Any of a number of ischemic heart diseases may cause canine heart failure, an emergency medical condition for any animal. Canine heart disease may be either congenital or acquired over the course of a lifetime, and it is critical that pet owners be aware of the symptoms and surgical treatment options available for canine heart disease.

An Overview of Canine Heart Disease

Canine heart disease may be caused by a number of different factors, including diet, exercise level and hereditary predisposition. If left untreated, canine heart disease may lead to heart failure and death. Dogs do not suffer from cardiac arrest in the same manner as humans, but rather experience a gradual weakening of the heart muscle that may have long term and potentially fatal consequences.

The Common Symptoms of Canine Heart Disease

Although canine heart disease most often strikes older, weaker dogs, it may affect young dogs as well. As a result, it is crucial that you watch for the following symptoms of heart disease in dogs of any age:

  • Sudden weight loss
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy

These symptoms are common to many different conditions, most of which are less serious than canine heart disease. Furthermore, heart disease may display no outward symptoms at all. For this reason, it is advisable to take a pet to the veterinarian's office for a physical exam once per year, or if any of the above symptoms should show and persist for more than a few days at a time.

Treating Canine Heart Disease with Surgery

A variety of prevention and treatment methods exist for the purpose of managing canine heart disease. Veterinarians recommend regular exercise and a healthy, balanced diet as a general means of preventing heart disease, although prescription supplements may be additionally helpful in preventing heart disease in dogs with a genetic predisposition to the disease.

For dogs suffering from heart disease, surgery has become an increasingly popular form of treatment as veterinary medicine has progressed in recent years. Canine heart surgery is not advisable in all cases of dog heart disease. Rather, it is most frequently used as a treatment method for dogs suffering from specific congenital heart defects. Some of the most common canine heart surgery methods include:

  • Pacemaker insertion
  • Pericardiectomy, used to drain excess fluids from the area around the heart
  • Balloon valvuloplasty, used to reduce constriction around the heart

When appropriate, canine heart disease surgery has a high success rate. Many dogs that receive heart surgery treatment go on to live long and healthy lives. However, only a veterinarian can determine if your animal will benefit from heart surgery of some type. If your dog suffers from heart disease, speak with a veterinary surgeon immediately for further information about your pet's case specifically.