Many pet owners are aware of the dangers of heart-related problems in dogs, but they’re not quite sure what those dangers look like and what they can do to prevent them. This quick guide will demystify the symptoms and causes of cardiac arrest in dogs and give you some practical tips for keeping your pets safe.
The difference between cardiac arrest and a heart attack
While a heart attack and cardiac arrest may seem similar, they are actually two different conditions. A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to your heart is interrupted by a clot, which can prevent oxygen-rich blood from reaching parts of your body.
A cardiac arrest is different because it’s a sudden and unexpected stop in the heart’s pumping action. This can happen at any time and often without warning signs or symptoms beforehand.
Cardiac arrest in humans has become relatively rare compared to times past, but unfortunately it hasn’t become any more uncommon in our pets. In fact, heart disease is still a leading cause of death in dogs and cats, horses and other animals as well as humans.
In fact, heart disease is still a leading cause of death in dogs and cats, horses and other animals as well as humans.
Certain breeds of dogs are at higher risk for heart-related problems, such as the Boxer, Great Dane, Irish Wolfhound and Pekingese.
Certain breeds of dogs are at higher risk for heart-related problems, including the Boxer, Great Dane, Irish Wolfhound and Pekingese.
However, there are certain breeds that are more likely to develop heart disease than others. For example:
The Boxer is prone to developing cardiomyopathy and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) which causes an enlarged heart muscle. The Great Dane has been found to be at increased risk of developing DCM or mitral valve dysplasia (MVD). In addition to MVD being common in this breed, tricuspid valve dysplasia can also occur in some cases.
Irish Wolfhounds are more likely than other breeds to develop aortic stenosis—a condition where the aortic valve doesn’t open wide enough during each heartbeat—or pulmonary stenosis—a condition where there’s not enough space between the right ventricle and pulmonary artery so that blood cannot get out easily because it builds up behind these structures during contraction of the ventricle muscles during each heartbeat cycle.
What are the causes of cardiac arrest in dogs?
Heart disease is the primary cause of cardiac arrest in dogs. Some of the possible causes include:
- Abnormalities in the heart itself, such as aneurysms or congenital defects (such as a hole between two chambers). These abnormalities can cause blood clots that trigger sudden cardiac arrest.
- Heartworm disease, which affects a dog’s heart and lungs by causing inflammation and damage to these organs.
- A heart attack, which occurs when a clot blocks an artery supplying blood to your pet’s heart muscle. If you think your pet has suffered from a heart attack due to his or her breed or age (for example, if it’s known that certain breeds are prone to developing certain diseases), then he/she may not be eligible for treatment with IV fluids (since this could potentially worsen their condition).
Abnormalities in the heart itself (such as aneurysms or congenital defects) — these can cause blood clots which trigger sudden cardiac arrest
The most common cause of an abnormal heart rhythm is a condition called ventricular tachycardia. This is when your dog’s ventricles (the lower chambers of the heart) contract too fast, and too forcefully. A rapid heart rate can cause blood flow to be disrupted, robbing your dog of oxygenated blood and leading to sudden cardiac arrest.
Other causes include structural defects in the heart itself (such as aneurysms), or congenital defects present at birth that have gone undetected until now. In these cases, clots form inside one or more chambers of the heart which disrupts its normal function and leads to sudden cardiac arrest if not treated quickly enough!
What are the symptoms of cardiac arrest in dogs?
Swollen abdomen is a symptom of several different problems. It’s common in dogs with heart disease, but also can be a symptom of liver or kidney failure. If you think your dog has a swollen abdomen, it’s best to get him to the vet as soon as possible.
Fainting spells or seizures
Seizures are sometimes seen in dogs as a result of heart problems, but they can also be caused by other health problems. If your dog has had a seizure, it’s important to see a veterinarian immediately so that the cause can be determined.
Seizures are caused when electrical impulses in the brain misfire and the neurons begin firing too quickly. Brain tumors, strokes, drug overdoses, and certain types of poisoning can all cause seizures.
One of the most important things to know about cardiac arrest in dogs is that they can collapse at any time. This is one of the most common signs of a heart attack or other life-threatening emergency, so if you see your dog collapse, it’s imperative that you call your veterinarian immediately.
Collapse is a sign that something has gone wrong with their heart rhythm and/or blood flow—two factors vital for survival. It means that there’s not enough oxygen getting to their brain and other organs, which can lead to death within minutes unless immediate treatment is given. The good news is that many dogs who have experienced cardiac arrest can be successfully revived with prompt treatment from a veterinarian or even at home by owners who are trained in CPR techniques
Extreme weakness or fatigue after moderate exercise
If your dog is showing any of the above symptoms after mild or moderate exercise, or if he seems unusually weak and lethargic, take him to see a veterinarian right away.
Blue gums or pale lips and tongue
Some of the most obvious signs that a dog is in cardiac arrest include blue gums or pale lips and tongue, weakness, collapse, fainting, and seizures. If you see any of these signs in your dog—or if he seems to be having trouble breathing—then it’s extremely important that you call your veterinarian immediately.
As soon as possible after calling your vet, get some ice cubes and place them on any exposed skin on his body (like his ear flaps). This will help keep him cool while waiting for help to arrive.
Early detection of cardiac problems can help your dog avoid sudden cardiac arrest.
If your dog is experiencing heart problems, a vet may be able to detect them by performing a physical examination. However, if you want to make sure that there are no underlying issues that may lead to sudden cardiac arrest, it’s best to get your dog checked out by a cardiologist or specialist. These professionals are trained in the area of diagnosing and treating heart disease in dogs.
Cardiac arrest is a scary thing to think about, but keep in mind that it’s only one of many possible concerns with heart problems in dogs. That being said, it’s important to know the warning signs so you can take your dog to the vet early enough to prevent any sort of heart issues. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, see a professional immediately! Early detection is always key when dealing with medical emergencies like this one.