While dogs can have different types of health concerns, one of the most misunderstood are those relating to the heart, the body's central organ. Do you know what to do when your dog has a heart problem?
The first signs your dog may have a heart problem are likely to be small. For large breeds, such as Doberman Pinschers or Dalmatians, pay particular attention to coughing, as these breeds are more susceptible to heart issues. Other symptoms your dog may have a heart problem are fairly generic. Your dog may appear lethargic or show little interest in the things they used to enjoy. To catch a heart problem early, take your dog to the vet for regular checkups. Dogs over the age of 10 need a vet checkup every six months.
The most common heart problem in older dogs is congestive heart failure, an enlarged heart. Younger dogs, particularly Boston Terriers, are prone to a heart problem called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the thickening of the heart's walls.
First and foremost, feed your dog the best dog food you can for your budget. Look for dog foods with a high level of potassium which aids heart function. Second, get your dog gentle exercise through easy and relaxed walks. If your dog shows signs of being tired, slow down or stop the walk. Don't forget to partner with your dog walker or pet sitter for your dog's exercise program. Finally, schedule your dog for regular checkups at the vet to help manage a heart problem. For example, if you’re tempted to give your dog supplements to aid heart health, talk first with your vet to get their advice.
If your dog has a heart problem, it's rarely a death sentence if you take charge. So catch your dog's heart problem early and take steps to limit its impact so your best friend can have a good quality of life.
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