Healthy Hearts Part II – How To Tell If Your Dog Is Having A Heart Attack

on February 15, 2010
Posted in Dogs

Yes, we dogs celebrate Valentines Day, too. And we do so with happy, healthy, strong hearts! But keeping our hearts strong isn`t just all about filling them with love, pals. I wish it were that easy, but it`s not! As we`ve learned, many pets have some form of heart ailment. Today, I`d like to talk about a dog`s life, and our hearts. Is it possible for your doggy to have a heart attack-ack-ack?

Common Heart Ailments In Dogs

Unlike humans, dogs don`t usually have heart attacks – although they can suffer from cardiac troubles. Some common heart ailments in dogs are:

  • Heart disease
  • Tachyarrhythmias
  • Bradyarrhythmias
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)

Is My Dog Having A Heart Attack?!

Heart trouble dog-ifests itself differently in dogs then in humans, so chances are no. If you think your dog is suffering from a heart attack, here`s more likely what`s happening:

Syncope is what we call a fainting or collapsing episode that is related to a heart abnormality, or low blood pressure.

During a syncope, you may notice:

  • A very slow heart-rate (bradyarrhythmias)
  • Fast heart-rate (tachyarrhythmias)
  • Limp or stiff limbs during a spell that return to normality very quickly (seconds to minutes)

Seizures can be like a syncopal spell, but:

  • dog has jerky limb movements
  • dog remains abnormal for minutes to hours after the episode

What To Do If Your Dog Has Syncope Or Seizure

Watching your beloved friend have a syncope or seizure can be terrifying! So most importantly, humans: STAY CALM! Seizures and syncopes are almost never fatal, but we will need vet care right away. Here are a few tips to know if we have an episode:

  • Gently place a hand on your dogs chest, to check for fast or slow heart rate
  • Your dog should be moved to a safe place or laid on a rug to minimize the chances of injury
  • Time the length of the seizure, and take note of everything so that you can relay it to the vet later
  • If the episode lasts longer than a few minutes, transport dog to vet – pronto!
  • After, keep us calm and cool – many vets say that stress can aggravate recovery.

Treating Heart Troubles Naturally

Once heart trouble in your precious dog has been identified, there are natural treatments available. Conventional vets will often prescribe drugs called ACE inhibitors, which reduce blood pressure, or a digitalis-type drug to control an excessively fast heart rate. Ack!

Natural vets treat more holistically, using herbal formulations and prescribing healthy lifestyles – including lots of exercise! Yes, there is healthier heart help for hounds.

Love you guys!

Cross my heart and hope for pie, Buster

Photo Credit: motherscratcher

Read also: Healthy Hearts Part I – Keeping Our Hearts Healthy

Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan

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