YOUR COCKAPOO’S HEALTH: HEART HEALTH

As a continuation of our articles about health issues that can affect your cockapoo, we decided to look into the large and complex subject of canine heart disease a bit deeper. We have had questions from some of our followers about heart disease in their dog and what they should know to catch any heart problems in their cockapoos early. As usual, it is important to note that we are not veterinarians, and any concerns you have should be brought to a qualified canine health expert.

That said, we have done our best to provide the basics of what every cockapoo owner should know here. We did some research on what heart problems can affect your dog and what signs to look for in case your cockapoo experiences any issues that could be related to their heart. We will also try to give some tips for prevention, although some heart health issues can be genetic.

What is generally called heart disease can actually engulf a few different things. One cannot tell a pet owner that their dog has heart disease without explaining what the type of issue it is, and what the cause and treatment may be.

Heart Murmurs: The first heart issue to explore is not a disease of the heart necessarily, but can sometimes occur with heart disease. This is Canine Heart Murmurs. A heart murmur can range in severity from barely audible through a stethoscope to extremely loud and easy to hear with little pressure, or even able to be felt through the vibration of the chest. Murmurs are caused by an interruption of the blood flow through the artery and can be from many causes. They sometimes can occur with heart failure, and in that case would be accompanied by symptoms like exercise intolerance, coughing, or lethargy. Just as with humans, a dog can be born with a heart murmur, but with careful monitoring and care, it may not have a huge impact on their life. In other cases, a heart murmur may be the result of a heart issue effecting the valves of the heart, as we will explore below.

Valvular Heart Disease: Canine Valvular Heart Disease can affect poodles as well as other small breeds, so there is a chance that cockapoos could get this disease in later life. Valvular heart disease is commonly know as mitral valve disease or atrioventricular valvular insufficiency. This form of heart disease usually happens in senior dogs, although it is possible at any age. VHD affects about 75% of dogs over 16 in North America, and is the most common heart disease in North America at this time. It seems to affect fewer dogs in the United Kingdom, but is still a concern. It is more common in male dogs, and will cause a leak in the heart valves, which is likely to cause a heart murmur, not previously diagnosed.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy: The next most common heart disease is Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy. This affects the heart muscle, and basically weakens its ability to pump blood effectively, which can lead to heart failure in a dog. In many cases, the heart will become enlarged and this makes it even harder for it to get the blood all the way through the body. While dilated cardiomyapathy is more likely to affect large breed dogs, it has been seen to be somewhat common in cocker spaniels, which puts the cockapoo at risk for developing this disease.

Other problems that can affect your cockapoo’s heart are congenital heart failure and heart-worm. As most pet owners know, heart-worm is easily prevented by monthly heart-worm pills or as part of the flea and tick prevention that you use. This is received from your dogs vet and they will also give a heart-worm test yearly. Heart-worm is deadly if left untreated, but can be treated and eventually removed. We will have a more in depth article about heart-worm in the near future, as well as further exploration of each of these issues independently.

Canine congenital heart failure, on the other hand, is usually the result of a dog’s long fight with heart disease, when the heart is no longer able to sufficiently support the body any longer. This would most likely occur only after every other option and treatment had been exhausted.

Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention: In many cases of heart disease, without proper treatment, it could eventually lead to heart failure. This does not mean that any heart problem is an immediate death sentence for your cockapoo! With early diagnosis, there are diets that have been tried, and a variety of medicines that your veterinarian can prescribe to help treat the symptoms and increase your dog’s longevity, even after a diagnoses of heart disease. As always, you will want to have regular check ups with your pup’s vet, and feed them a healthy diet. Some people suggest supplements to increase heart health, but we here at Cockapoo Crazy have not had experience with this situation, so we can’t make any specific suggestions. Consult your veterinarian before making any significant changes.

Signs and symptoms that you need to look for are weakness, lethargy, loss of appetite, coughing, difficulty breathing, changes in weight, restlessness, swollen abdomen, depression, and any changes in behavior that you find significant. Remember that some dogs will adjust to the changes in their body without readily apparent symptoms, which could make it harder to detect. Coughing is one of the biggest signs for most people, so in the case of your dog having a cough for more than three days, you will want to get him checked out right away, especially if he is an older dog!

The best things that you can do to ensure your cockapoo remains healthy are simple: feed him a healthy diet of high quality ingredients (avoiding fillers like corn, and other less healthy ingredients), keep him as close to his ideal weight as possible, make sure you give him regular exercise, and always keep up with your scheduled veterinarian appointments. Bring up and concerns that you have regarding symptoms you may be worried about every time you go in, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. These actions should go a long way toward prevention of heart disease in your cockapoo.

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