As a dog owner, it is essential to understand how to manage your furry friend’s chronic heart condition. Numerous breeds are prone to various types of heart disease, making it crucial to learn how to provide them with the best care.

In this article, we will discuss the main causes, signs, treatments, and management tips for dogs with chronic heart conditions.

Causes of Heart Failure in Dogs

Degenerative or Leaky Heart Valves

One common cause of heart failure in dogs is degenerative or leaky heart valves, typically found in small-breed dogs as they age. Some breeds with a higher predisposition to heart disease include Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Dobermans, Boxers, and other giant breeds.

Congenital Heart Defects

Congenital heart defects, often detected during puppy visits, are another cause of chronic heart conditions. While not as common, they are essential to keep in mind when discussing your dog’s health.

Grain-Free Dog Food and Dilated Cardiomyopathy

The recent link between grain-free dog foods and dilated cardiomyopathy is something to watch out for. Although the exact cause is unknown, it’s best to avoid feeding your dog a grain-free diet.

Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease can also lead to congestive heart failure, making year-round heartworm prevention essential for your dog’s health.

Signs and Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs

Some common signs of congestive heart failure in dogs include persistent coughing, tiring easily, shortness of breath, pacing at bedtime, and a swollen belly from fluid buildup. Paying close attention to these symptoms will allow you to create the best care plan with your veterinarian if your dog is diagnosed with a chronic heart condition.

Treatment Options and Medications for Dogs with Heart Disease

Your veterinarian will help you develop the most effective care plan for your dog’s needs. Treatment options may include medication to regulate the heart rate and reduce fluid buildup or even pacemaker implantation for younger dogs with congenital issues.

Dietary Management for Dogs with Chronic Heart Conditions

Switching to a low-salt diet can help reduce fluid buildup in your dog’s body. Avoid feeding them human food and minimize dog treats, as they often struggle with digestion. Monitoring food intake is crucial to ensure your dog maintains a healthy weight, reducing the strain on their heart.

Exercise Management and Restrictions for Heart Disease in Dogs

While your dog shouldn’t be completely sedentary, they must exercise moderately. High-intensity activities should be avoided in favor of gentle walks and playtime. This balance ensures your dog stays active without putting unnecessary strain on their heart.

Supplements for Dogs with Heart Conditions

Vitamin B, amino acids, and vitamin E supplements may improve your dog’s energy levels, digestion, and overall well-being. Speak with your veterinarian about adding these supplements to your dog’s diet, ensuring a customized care plan specific to their needs.

There may be a time when your dog may require immediate care, especially if their condition worsens suddenly. In those cases, having a trusted emergency animal hospital on hand is essential. Hospitals like Veterinary Medical And Surgical Group–OC provide specialized care for dogs with chronic heart conditions, offering treatment plans tailored to their needs.

Vet Diagnostics

Regular vet visits are essential to monitor and adjust your dog’s treatment plan. Veterinarians use vet diagnostics to ensure your dog’s care is on track. To learn more about vet diagnostics, you may follow this link.

Veterinary Internal Medicine

Working closely with an internal medicine vet is vital in maintaining your dog’s health with a chronic heart condition. These specialized professionals offer focused care in veterinary internal medicine, uniquely positioning them to provide expert guidance for your dog’s health journey.

Tips for Preventing Heart Disease in Dogs

Preventing heart disease starts with year-round heartworm prevention, regular vet checkups for early detection, and choosing the proper diet (avoiding grain-free dog foods). Providing your dog an active and balanced lifestyle will help keep their heart in good shape.


Managing your dog’s chronic heart condition is vital for their health and well-being. By understanding the main causes, signs, and treatments, you can work with your veterinarian to provide the best possible care. Keep in mind the importance of proper nutrition, exercise, and regular vet visits to keep your dog happy and healthy.