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Dog Enlarged Heart

"A dog enlarged heart is difficult to diagnose until symptoms such as breathing, cough, collapse and an enlarged abdomen start to appear. Where there is no cure there are several drugs that can help prolong the life of your dog."

A dog with an enlarged heart condition is the most common cause of heart failure in large dogs. In a dog enlarged heart condition, a dog's heart enlarges causing it to have trouble pumping blood and the way it moves calcium ions. With a decline in the ability to move calcium, the heart becomes thinner and flabby. Over a few months, the thinning causes the heart to become enlarged (dilated) and the timing of the heart changes for the worse, causing the dog to start showing symptoms. When the condition worsens, it results in heart failure and sadly after 1 to 2 years, the death of your dog.

The cause of the disease is not known but is associated with parvovirus, taurine deficiencies and adriamycin. The disease tends to affect male, middle age, large breeds of dogs and is most often seen in Doberman Pinschers, Saint Bernards, Cocker Spaniels, Great Danes, German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers. It is not common in small dogs.

Symptoms of Dog Enlarged Heart

Signs of a dog enlarged heart include heart failure, difficulty breathing, cough, collapse and an enlarged abdomen due to fluid. If your dog is showing these symptoms, the disease has progressed to a later stage.

Diagnosis of Dog Enlarged Heart

All of the common methods used to diagnose heart disease are used to diagnose an enlarged heart. Surgery is not needed to diagnose this disease. Methods of dog enlarged heart diagnosis include:

X-Rays - To check for enlargement

Electrocardiography (electrical reading of heart) - Records arrhythmia (pattern of heart beats) and allows the Veterinarian to see the size of the heart chambers.

Echocardiography (ultrasound) - Provides a definitive diagnosis.

Treatment of Dog Enlarged Heart

There is no cure for this disease. Several heart treatment drugs are used in combination to treat an enlarged heart. Drugs include Digoxin (helps with heart contractions), ACE Inhibitors (reduces blood pressure) and diuretics (removes water, works on kidneys).

Diet for Dog with Enlarged Heart

All dogs with heart issues are put on a low salt diet to reduce liquid retention. Recent studies are showing that if a dog's diet is low in Taurine, they see future heart problems. Dietary supplements can help such as:

Taurine and Dogs - amino acid produced naturally by dogs. This substance helps to regulate heartbeat, helps calcium absorption during times of reduced oxygen and protects the heart from calcium overload. In order to produce taurine (from vitaimin B-6, dogs also need the substances methionine and cystine. Other good supplements are vitamins C and B-1. Note that Taurine is particularly effective in Cocker Spaniels. Taurine has no known side effects, but safe dosage should be based on the recommendation of a Veterinarian.

Carnitine and coenzyme Q are also often recommened by Veterinarians as they help with dog enlarged heart by bringing fatty acids into muscle cells which is then converted into the needed energy. This substance is considered safe. Try not to use D-carnitine or DL carnitine which causes problems with muscle function and possibly angina.

A good source for natural heart supplements is PetAlive Heart & Circulation - for the Natural Treatment of Heart Disease

Life Expectancy Dog Congestive Heart Failure

While every dog is different, how long your dog will live depends on whether it responds to treatment. You should see some type of positive response the day drugs are administered or within several days.

The long term prospects for any dog with this disease are not good. Doberman breeds often pass away in 1 to 6 months. Dogs that are most responsive to treatment are Cocker Spaniels (when they are taurinine deficient and carnitine), Boxers, (carnitine) and others that respond to taurinine therapy.

Sources:

Nelson, O.R. - "Home Care of the Heart Failure Patient"Washington State University.

Dukes, Joanne, "Caniine Heart Disease", MRCVS Department of Veterinary Medicine University, Glasgow Veterinary School, Scotland, UK

Hearty Dog,http://www.heartydog.co.uk/index.shtml

Hines, Ron DVM, PHD?Heat Disease in Dogs and Cats?

Heart Conditions: KilatedCardiomyophaty (DCM) "Treatment for Rapid Heart Beat" Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue

New Hope Animal Hospital, Canine Cardiology,"His Heart is In Your Hands"

Pawprints & Purrs, Inc, "Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy and Heart Failure"

"Hole in Dog's Heart Repaired?, Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

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