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What Does the Heart Do?

The heart, blood and blood vessels make up the system that supplies the body's tissues and organs with oxygen and nutrients.

Oxygen-depleted blood comes from all parts of the body to the chambers on the right side of the heart. The blood is then pumped through the lungs, where oxygen is added to it.

Oxygen-rich blood returns from the lungs to the left side of the heart and is pumped out, delivering oxygen to all the body's tissues.

What Are the Different Types of Heart Disease?

There are two types of heart disease: congenital and acquired. Congenital heart disease is present at birth and is rare. Acquired heart disease develops over time, usually beginning during middle-age and affective many older dogs.

The most prevalent type of acquired heart disease, Chronic Valvular Disease (CVD), is also known as mitral regurgitation, mitral valve disease and valvular insufficiency, among other names. In CVD, the heart valves gradually lose the ability to close effectively, which causes abnormalities in blood flow.

The second most common kind of acquired canine heart disease, Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) , caused the muscular walls, of the heart to become thin and weak, and the chambers to dilate.

Both CVD and DCM result in the same serious condition which is called heart failure .

What Is Heart Failure?

Heart failure occurs when the heart cannon pump enough blood to meet the body's needs.

Because the heart is not pumping effectively, blood may back up in the heart, lungs, or other organs. Blood vessels constrict and blood pressure increases. As a result, fluid may leak out of the vessels especially of the lungs and liver and cause congestion of the lungs, or fluid accumulation in the abdomen and other tissues, or both.

How Can I Tell If My Dog Has Heart Failure?

The early signs of heart failure are hard to detect. A decrease in activity or coughing during periods of exercise or excitation are both early signs of heart failure, but owners may consider these normal signs of aging. It is difficult to tell without a thorough examination. As heart failure progresses, however, these early signs become more severe. In addition, your dog may develop other signs such as rapid breathing, abdominal swelling and weight loss.

Are Certain Breeds More Susceptible to Heart Disease and Heart Failure?

Heart disease can develop in any breed of dog or cat. However, some breeds are more susceptible to certain types of disease. As a rule, breeds such as Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, Chihuahuas, and Lhasa Apsos have a greater incidence of Chronic Valvular Disease , while larger breeds, such as Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes and Boxers are more prone to Dilated Cardiomyopathy . However, English Cocker Spaniels are also susceptible to Dilated Cardiomyopathy .