My Dog Has Heart Disease, And Her Cough Is Worsening

“Heart disease is a common problem in dogs and, as in people, can be caused by a variety of underlying conditions, including heart valve degeneration, irregular heart rate and rhythm (arrhythmia), and heart muscle disease. Despite the many types of heart diseases affecting dogs, most share common signs that can alert owners to a problem,” according to the website of the Morris Animal Foundation.

The organization also enumerated the 5 common signs of canine heart disease:

Photo: YouTube/Heron Lakes Animal Hospital
  1. Persistent coughing that may be due to fluid accumulation in the lungs, which happens when the heart isn’t pumping properly. An enlarged heart may also cause this condition; that’s why any dog coughing that persists after several days must be brought to the attention of a veterinarian.
  2. Fainting or collapse. This occurs when blood flow to the brain gets restricted.
  3. Difficulty in breathing. Dogs with heart disease usually suffer from dyspnea. Some dogs may prefer sitting or standing for long periods of time because they find it hard to breath while lying down. There are dogs who may even choose to stand with legs wide apart and necks stretched out in order to breathe a bit easier.
  4. Photo: YouTube/Heron Lakes Animal Hospital
  5. Gets tired easily. Walks and exercises drain them easily. Dogs with heart disease want to sleep or rest more.
  6. Changes in behavior like poor appetite, reluctance to engage in games and other physical activities it used to enjoy, and social withdrawal.

In this case of a dog owner named Mario, he asked expert advice from PetHelpful’s Ask-A-Vet section for his pet who has a heart disease with persistent coughing. He wrote, “I have a 10-year-old Jack Russell who has been coughing for 2 years, but it’s worse now. We took her to our vet for examination, and all he could find was that one heart ventricle was bigger than the other. He gave her Pimobendan 6mg and Furosemide 40mg. She is coughing worse by the hour. It seems like the meds are not working, and I can’t bear to hear her suffer any longer. What can we do? Would it be better to put her down to help her out of her suffering?”

Photo: YouTube/Heron Lakes Animal Hospital

Among the recommendations made by Dr. Mark dos Anjos is to consult a veterinary cardiologist. This expert can help in determining whether the cough is related to the heart disease of Mario’s dog or some other causes like heartworm infection.

Sometimes, a test for heartworm infection may come back with a negative result, but it should be ascertained through Immune Complex Dissociation Testing, retesting in 6 months, and other diagnostic testing.

However, in Mario’s case, the best thing to do is to bring his dog to a canine heart expert who can help with the treatment of both coughing and heart disease.

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