a dog in nature

Can Dogs Have Heart Attacks?

The information provided in this post is intended for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your veterinarian for medical advice or treatment.

Yes, while very rare, dogs can have heart attacks. Without blood flow, the heart quickly becomes damaged and ceases to function due to a lack of oxygen and vital nutrients.

As a result, the heart is unable to pump blood through the rest of the body. This is a serious medical emergency that requires immediate attention and can even result in sudden death.

Unfortunately, just as in humans, heart attacks in dogs can occur with little to no warning. But, in some cases, there are symptoms.

dog looking out of window

What Does A Heart Attack Look Like in Dogs? 11 Symptoms to Watch Out For

Most of us are familiar with the symptoms of heart attacks in humans: dizziness, chest pain, and shortness of breath to name just a few. Dogs can have similar symptoms in addition to the following:
  • Vomiting
  • Panting
  • Increased heart rate (over 100 beats per minute for large breeds and over 140 beats per minute for small breeds)
  • Fever (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit/39.4 degrees Celsius)
  • Pain in front legs
  • Difficulty standing
  • Confusion
  • Immobility
  • Seizure
  • Lethargy
  • Anxiety
  • Collapse
dog resting on blanket

In the frightening event that your pup displays any of those symptoms or suddenly collapses, seek immediate veterinary attention. Your vet will provide emergency care that will likely include a series of lab tests to confirm if your dog had a heart attack.

Again, heart attacks in dogs are very rare. So if your pup is showing one or more of these symptoms, it could be due to another health issue. But regardless, be proactive and visit your veterinarian for a full evaluation to rule out any cardiac problems.

Risk Factors of Heart Attacks in Dogs

Heart attacks happen when the heart doesn’t get enough blood flow. So any condition that increases the risk of blood clots can also lead to a heart attack. For example, diabetes, severe pancreatitis, heartworm disease, and parvovirus can all increase the risk of blood clots. Therefore, they can make your pup more susceptible to a heart attack.

In addition, if there is a tumor around the heart, plaque buildup in the arteries, or coronary artery disease, your dog is at a higher risk of suffering a heart attack.

Pin Me!

a dog in nature

How To Support Your Dog’s Heart Health

We’ve mentioned that heart attacks are rare in dogs. But heart failure and heart disease are rather common.

A heart attack happens when there is a sudden block in blood flow caused by something like a blockage or a clot. Heart failure can be caused by any condition that weakens the heart’s ability to pump blood.Heart disease can be caused by underlying conditions that include valve problems, irregular heart rhythm, and heart muscle disease. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, dogs who show signs of heart disease may be intolerant of exercise, have weakness, coughing, difficulty breathing, increased breathing rate, and even abdominal swelling.

Unfortunately, many heart conditions can’t be “fixed” or cured, but rather they must be managed. Usually, this is done with medications and close monitoring.

But, there are preventative measures that you can take to improve your pup’s overall wellness and support their cardiovascular health.

Dog at vet\'s office

Visit Your Veterinarian

First, visit your veterinarian for expert advice prior to making any lifestyle changes for your dog. They can provide good guidance tailored to your pup’s own specific health needs.

Manage Your Dog’s Diet

Next, examine your pup’s diet. Proper nutrition plays a major role in keeping the heart functioning as it should.

Take Weight Control Seriously

Just like in humans, obesity wreaks havoc on heart health. Unfortunately, many of our pets are carrying around more weight than their furry bodies can handle. Be sure to keep treats to a minimum. And if needed, seek help from your vet in creating a weight loss program for your dog.

Get Lots of Exercise

Staying active is one way to keep your pet’s weight down and their heart in good shape. Regular walks, hikes, and games of fetch will keep your pup’s heart pumping. Plus, it\'s a paw-some way to bond with your furry friend.
dogs getting exercise on a walk

Keep Their Teeth Clean

Interestingly, there’s a connection between dental hygiene and heart health. If your dog has plaque or tartar buildup, bacteria from their mouth could enter their bloodstream and contribute to heart issues.

Schedule regular dental cleanings with your veterinarian to prevent any future problems.

Prevent Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease is a deadly parasitic condition passed along by mosquitos. Heartworms cause chronic inflammation and irreversible damage to the heart.Thankfully, your veterinarian can provide a preventative treatment to avoid this problem altogether.

Are Certain Dog Breeds More Prone to Heart Issues?

While a heart attack can affect any dog breed, some tend to be predisposed to other heart problems.

For example, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Doberman Pinschers, Boxers, Miniature Schnauzers, and Wirehaired Fox Terriers may have a predisposition towards various heart problems. This includes valve problems, irregular heartbeats, and heart disease. Your veterinarian will also take your dog’s breed into consideration when they do their examination.

woman hugging dog

Use Omega-3 Fish Oil to Support A Healthy Heart

Omega-3 is a “good” type of fat that helps your dog’s body by reducing inflammation and reducing or preventing a lot of inflammation-related conditions, including heart disease!

According to the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, “Omega-3 fatty acids are a special type of oil that can help reduce inflammation in the body and reduce muscle loss (cachexia) in pets with congestive heart failure.”

They go on to comment, “Fish oil is recommended for dogs and cats with congestive heart failure, especially those with reduced or altered appetite or any muscle loss (cachexia).”

benefits of omega-3 fatty acids

We believe so strongly in the health benefits of omega-3 that we formulated our own unique supplement.

The oil in Pawsomely Healthy’s Omega-3 is sourced from small, wild-caught anchovies found in the South Pacific. As a result of being low in the food chain, these fish (and by extension, their oil) don’t carry poisonous heavy metals that could be dangerous for your dog.In addition, our Omega-3 is conveniently spray-dried and stored in capsules. Many paw-rents love the convenience of the capsules. They can be fed whole to your pup, or the contents can be sprinkled onto your dog’s food.

Omega-3 by Pawsomely Healthy
Either way, your fur family will get a safe and potent dose of this natural anti-inflammatory that will support their cardiovascular health.

The Final Woof

While it\'s rare, dogs can have heart attacks just like humans. Unfortunately, heart failure and heart disease are much more common yet can also be devastating.

Consult with your veterinarian to find the best ways to take care of your pup’s cardiovascular health. And consider adding Omega-3 fish oil to their diet. This natural anti-inflammatory is a powerful preventative measure that will keep your dog active and healthy for years to come.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.