Heart Disease in Dogs

Heart disease in dogsWhen my first Chihuahua, Carl was three years old, my vet gave him about six months to live. Little Carl was diagnosed with a heart murmur and a possible liver shunt. Needless to say I was devastated. However Carl seemed just fine and had no symptoms at all.

His heart murmur was significant but it turned out he did not have a liver shunt. Carl’s liver enzymes were high but with some natural vitamins, (milk thistle is known to aid in liver support) his levels came down to a normal range.

Carl will be ten years old this summer. He remains quite active and happy. But lately I have noticed a slight cough which is a sign of advancing heart disease.

Heart murmurs are extra beats that occur as a result of a disturbance in blood flow. If the murmur is associated with structural heart disease your dog may display signs of congestive heart failure such as weakness, coughing and exercise intolerance.

It is likely Carl was born with this defect. And studies show that heart disease is quite common in toy dogs, especially Chihuahuas. In most dogs advancing heart failure is simply due to aging.

There is no cure for this condition however with proper care a dog can live quite comfortably and have a nice long life. Your vet can help you make a plan for making this possible.

Congestive heart failure in dogs is similar to the disease in humans. I know this because my mother passed away form CHF five years ago. She was a great believer in natural remedies and so am I. Certain vitamins and limiting salt intake are very important.

Today there are several good natural pet remedies available to help your dog. Of course you should always consult your vet before you try anything new.

My little Carl is quite a sensitive boy and very dramatic. Just taking him into the vet’s office is stressful for him. However it is important to care for your dog the best you can even if you choose a more natural path. If your dog is diagnosed with heart disease, don’t panic. There is hope. See your vet and do your own research!

I hope to have Carl around for a long time.

If you suspect a problem, call your vet!


Carl, my Chihuahua

My Chihuahua, Carl, will be 10 years old this summer.

Signs & Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs
Depending on which side of the heart is weakened or disabled, your dog may exhibit different signs early on:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Unproductive coughing due to build-up of fluid in the lungs – mostly found in left-sided heart failure
  • Fainting or collapsing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Bloated belly due to build-up of fluid in the chest cavity – mostly found in right-sided heart failure (less common than left-sided failure)


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