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Heart disease in dogs


Heart problems in dogs can be present from birth; this is termed congenital heart disease. More commonly, disease develops over the pet’s lifetime, this is known as acquired disease. Acquired heart disease accounts for an estimated 95% of all heart conditions in dogs.2


Causes of acquired heart disease in dogs include:

  • valve defects (e.g. myxomatous mitral valve disease)
  • cardiac muscle disease (e.g. dilated cardiomyopathy)
  • heartworm


Heart diseases can result in heart failure. Heart failure occurs when the body can no longer compensate for the disease within the heart. At this point dogs start to show signs such as laboured or fast breathing at rest, reluctance to exercise, lethargy and weight loss.


While there is no cure for heart failure, it can usually be managed with medication and care. With appropriate management, we can also delay the progression of heart disease to heart failure.



What are the signs?

Dogs with heart disease may show no outward signs. However, in time, dogs with heart disease may develop heart failure, leading to the appearance of clinical signs.


Signs of heart failure can include:

  • Laboured or fast breathing at rest
  • Reluctance to exercise/tiring more easily
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Enlarged abdomen
  • Weakness
  • Fainting


What can you do for your dog?


  • Regular veterinary check-ups – at least once a year to monitor your dog’s heart health
  • Maintain a healthy diet for your dog
  • Encourage your dog to exercise and walk regularly unless otherwise directed by your vet



To measure the RRR simply count the number of breaths per minute. You can track your dog’s RRR by either using the free Heart2Heart Respiratory App or by keeping a record in a diary.


The Heart2Heart Respiratory App, is a free, easy-to-use App to help you track your dog’s RRR.



Get the App from your favourite App store:






If you have any questions about heart disease in dogs, please speak with one of our friendly team at Sydney Animal Hospitals;

Newtown 95194111
Inner West 
9516 1466
8883 0411
8883 0533
9997 4609
9918 0833


#Heart #HeartDiseases #Heart2Heart #HeartConditionsInDogs



  1. Atkins C., et al. (2006) Guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of canine chronic valvular heart disease. J Vet Intern Med.;23(6):1142–1150.
  2. Detweiler, D. K., et al. (1965). The prevalence and types of cardiovascular disease in dogs. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 127(1):481-516.
  3. Boswood A., et al. Temporal changes in clinical and radiographic variables in dogs with preclinical myxomatous mitral valve disease: The EPIC Study. J Vet Intern Med. 2020;1-11