What Can Cause Birth Defects In Dogs

When the pump is weak - heart disease in the dog

It is not heartless

The dog's heart is a life manager that the body cannot possibly do without, because the central organ supplies the entire organism. It pumps oxygen-rich and nutrient-rich blood through the vessels into all organs and picks up metabolic waste products as well as carbon dioxide. If the heart is sick, it can no longer fulfill this vital task. Over time, there is a loss of functionality. All heart diseases have one thing in common: regardless of the cause, dogs with heart disease and progressive symptoms suffer from heart failure. The heart no longer pumps enough blood into the circulation and the dog's body does not get enough oxygen.

Heart disease comes on quiet feet

The first symptoms of heart problems are so subtle and unspecific that in most cases they go undetected. The disease often develops insidiously. With some diseases, the heart can initially compensate for its reduced performance - until fatigue occurs. The compensation mechanisms exert an additional strain on the ailing heart, so that visible symptoms occur as a result of further deterioration. A dog with a heart condition is often less willing to perform, has a cough or breathes faster even with a little exertion. In more serious cases, you may experience unexpected fainting or shortness of breath. Blue mucous membranes or a stomach filled with fluid can also indicate heart failure. If the pet owner notices worrying changes in behavior in his four-legged friend, the disease is usually relatively advanced.

How does the heart cough develop?

Heart-related coughs usually do not appear until the disease is advanced and are usually caused by a weakness in the left heart. However, it can also have other reasons, such as a defective heart valve or a pumping weakness in the left ventricle. The urge to cough can be triggered when the function of the left ventricle is impaired and the blood remains in the heart instead of being pumped further into the body's circulation. It builds up from the left atrium to the blood vessels of the lungs - this is why the symptom is colloquially known as "water in the lungs". Edema occurs in the lungs, which means that there is actually fluid in the lungs. The dog tries to get rid of the liquid by coughing. Coughing can also be caused by an enlarged left atrium that is pressing on the bronchi due to the accumulated blood.

Recognize dog heart problems early

Modern diagnostics are usually able to detect heart diseases in dogs at an early stage, even before noticeable symptoms and visible impairments occur. Therefore, have an annual health check carried out, during which the vet can listen to your dog's heart and lungs and, if suspected, prescribe further examinations or carry them out himself. Many medical practices are equipped with the necessary diagnostic devices such as X-rays, cardiac ultrasound or EKG and can quickly provide security about the health of the dog's heart.

What heart diseases do dogs get?

Heart problems in the dog mostly acquired

85 percent of heart diseases in dogs are acquired. Next If the cause is unknown, metabolic, carcinogenic, toxic, infectious or genetically determined causes are possible. Mitral endocardiosis and the resulting AV valve insufficiency - i.e. the insufficiency of the atrioventricular valves - is the most common heart problem in dogs at 33 percent. The second most common heart disease is dilated cardiomyopathy.

Certain breeds more often affected

Congenital heart diseases of a toxic-infectious or hereditary nature affect certain races more often than others. Because of this, cardiological screening has already become routine for responsible breeders. A good opportunity to identify such a congenital defect is the first vaccination at the veterinarian. This is not only important to exclude sick animals from breeding, but also to initiate therapy as quickly as possible. The great urge to move around in puppies can lead to sudden deaths in animals with heart disease.

Valve Disease in Small and Old Dogs

Smaller dogs, on average, live longer than larger breeds. However, this rule does not apply to certain heart diseases. The hearts of smaller dogs are more often affected by chronic valve disease than those of larger four-legged friends. Older dogs are also affected: Over 75% of senior dogs over the age of 13 suffer from this disease, which can vary in severity. With this malfunction, the heart valve is thickened and does not close completely. This causes the blood to flow in the wrong direction: back into the vessels and organs. As the disease progresses, the atrium and heart chamber enlarge.

Muscle weakness in large dogs

In larger dogs, on the other hand, the heart muscle itself is more often affected. Younger four-legged friends also suffer from it more often than the elderly. In dilated cardiomyopathy, the heart wall becomes thinner and weaker and can no longer produce its pumping capacity. The left ventricle in particular expands. Affected dogs suffer from irregular heartbeat and symptoms of cardiac insufficiency. Sudden cardiac death is also possible.

Canine Heart Disease Risk Factors

In contrast to humans, it is not the unfavorable living conditions that are the main cause of heart disease in dogs. The unhealthy lifestyle so often referred to in human medicine, such as lack of exercise or obesity, seems to play a subordinate role in our four-legged friends. Nonetheless, obesity can complicate the occurrence of cardiovascular disease. An ideal body weight generally reduces the risk of many age-related diseases.

How is the heart related to the kidneys?

The functions of the heart and kidneys are closely related and influence one another. If one of the two organs falls ill, the other is often impaired. When the heart cannot pump enough blood to the body, the kidneys cannot get enough oxygen. This can lead to kidney failure in the long term. Chronic kidney disease, in turn, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease because the kidneys lose the ability to filter and detoxify the blood and to regulate the fluid balance. For example, kidney failure can not only cause distressing symptoms, it can also make heart failure worse. The close connection can also be used therapeutically by relieving the heart through the kidneys. In this case, diuretics and ACE inhibitors are used.

Heart medications for the dog

Taurine deficiency as a possible cause

Most cat owners hear about the nutrient taurine and its importance for the body. The aminosulfonic acid is required for the metabolism, digestion and fertility of female cats, but can only be produced in small, insufficient quantities by cat liver. Therefore it has to be taken in through food. Dogs, on the other hand, are able to generate taurine themselves and are independent of exogenous taurine intake. In theory anyway, because apparently a taurine deficiency is also widespread in dogs and is a risk factor for heart disease in the veterinary world. Clinical studies in Newfoundlands, American Cocker Spaniels and Golden Retrievers have shown a clear association between the occurrence of dilated cardiomyopathies and low levels of taurine in the blood. In addition to possible breed-related causes, nutritional factors can also lead to an undersupply of taurine. Research has uncovered problems with soy-based foods and high levels of meat meal from lambs.

Antioxidants and carnitine

According to recent research, dogs with heart disease show signs of increased oxidative stress - that is, too high a proportion of free radicals in the body. Due to the antioxidant properties of vitamin E and selenium, the addition of these substances is recommended for cardiomyopathies, i.e. diseases of the heart muscle. L-carnitine, which occurs in large quantities in the heart and skeletal muscles, can also be administered as a support. The addition of carnitine in high doses has achieved good results, especially in cardiomyopathies of larger dog breeds such as boxers or Doberman, if a corresponding deficit in the heart muscles has occurred. Meat and liver, as well as blood meal, have a high carnitine content. In dogs, however, the reabsorption of carnitine via the kidneys is quite low, so that in the event of insufficient intake or metabolic malfunctions, a carnitine deficiency can occur. The addition of L-carnitine has hardly any side effects - with the exception of diarrhea in the case of oversupply - so the substance can also be administered on suspicion. The four-legged patients usually respond to the administration of carnitine within three months if there is a deficiency. Then they show increased appetite and show increased activity.

Diet: good for the heart

Heart disease in dogs is incurable, but you can create the most comfortable conditions possible for your four-legged friend in order to maintain their quality of life. In addition to medication, you should ensure that you eat highly digestible and energy-dense food with adequate amounts of protein and high biological value. If edema is present, a sodium-reduced diet is also important, as heart patients lose the ability to tolerate food rich in sodium. Added taurine and L-carnitine, which support the heart muscle function, are recommended. You should absolutely avoid being overweight - so be careful with additional snacks. To further relieve the heart, you should also divide the daily amount of food into several meals a day.

Movement: shorter and more frequent

Exercise is also very important for dogs with heart disease, but your walking routes should be shorter, but take place more frequently. It is better to walk your dog with a heart condition for half an hour four times a day instead of once a day and three short times. Your four-legged friend should move regularly, evenly and adapted to the severity of the disease - this keeps the heart patient fit without overwhelming him. Extreme physical exertion should always be avoided. You should go for walks on hot summer days in the cool morning and evening hours, as high temperatures and extreme humidity put a particular strain on the circulation of dogs with heart problems.

Regular health checks

Regular check-ups are mandatory for canine heart patients so that the veterinarian can assess the progression of the disease and, if necessary, intervene therapeutically. Ideally, you should also get into the habit of measuring the dog's breathing rate at rest. The breaths - that is, the raising and lowering of the chest - should be over a minute counted, preferably while the dog is sleeping. The resting respiratory rate should less than 30 / minute lie. Increases you permanent this can be a sign of the onset of pulmonary edema. Studies have shown that the regular measurement of the resting respiratory rate by the animal owner is an excellent early warning system for pulmonary edema.

Life expectancy of heart disease dogs

The prognosis for canine heart disease mostly depends on the stage of the disease and cannot be estimated across the board. Mitral endocardiosis, for example, progresses slowly over several years, during which the dog initially lives symptom-free. However, if decompensation occurs - an organ disorder when the body can no longer compensate for the overload - the prognosis deteriorates significantly. Dilated cardiomyopathy also usually has an unfavorable prognosis in the late stage if no treatable cause can be found.


Heart disease in dogs is insidious because it usually develops without symptoms and progresses quietly. Regular check-ups - especially for older dogs or breeds that are prone to heart failure - can diagnose such a disease at an early stage and make appropriate therapy possible.