While the mortality rate from heart disease is declining among humans, it seems to be increasing among pets. Pets are living longer and more heart disease is being detected.

The general types of heart disease:

  • Heart valve problems are the most common cause of heart disease in dogs. The heart valves thicken and then leak when the heart pumps.
  • Inflammation (myocarditis) is caused by an infection of the heart muscles or lining of the heart.
  • Heartworm disease is caused by worms, which actually lodge in the heart. This disease is transmitted by mosquitoes.
  • Arrhythmia or irregular heart beats are caused by malfunctions of the heart’s electrical control system known as the pacemaker.
  • Blockages of the heart arteries cause the death of part of the heart muscle. This disease is not common in pets.
  • Other heart diseases may be caused by birth defects.

It is important to know some of the general symptoms of common heart disease, since early detection can help save your pet. The signs include restlessness, coughing, fatigue, fainting, a bluish tongue, loss of appetite, body swelling, and a rapid or very slow heart beat.

Just as in humans, most heart disease in pets can be controlled through proper treatment and care. Contact your veterinarian if you suspect your pet is suffering from some form of heart disease.

Copyright © 2009, American Animal Hospital Association

Reprinted with permission from the American Animal Hospital Association.