Coughing, a sign of potential problems with your dog’s heart

  • Sharing is caring

Heart disease in dogs is more common than you think unfortunately, and early detection of a potential heart condition can make a significant difference in how well and how long your pet lives.

Meet Gucci, an adorable 11 years old Pikingese. His mum, Brae, noticed that Gucci started coughing at night a while ago. While occasional coughing might be easily dismissed as not a big deal (given we humans cough sometimes), Brae realised something could be wrong when Gucci coughed almost every night and had no signs of getting better on his own. When presented with this video of his coughing in action, her veterinarian immediately knew a X-ray was required, allow ing the veterinarian to assess the heart (its size, shape, and location), lungs (looking for fluid within or around the lungs as can happen in severe heart disease), along with other diagnostic tests e.g. blood tests and ultrasound.

Watch how Gucci coughs:  

With coughing as one obvious symptom indicating possible health condition, Dr Karen Shaw Becker sheds light on 6 key signs which we can look out for:

1. Coughing. A recent, persistent cough that is worse at night, or when your pet has been laying down, or stands up from a sitting or reclining position is one of the more obvious signs of a potential issue with the heart. Cats with heart disease usually don’t cough.

2. Exercise intolerance. If your pet seems to be moving around less and is reluctant to play or exercise, it’s a red flag. She may begin to wear out after just a short exercise session, and you may notice she’s breathing heavier after exertion. Another sign is purplish or pale gums.

3. Respiratory distress. Pets with a heart problem often have an increased respiration rate during sleep. A normal respiration rate is under 32 breaths per minute, and you can check your pet’s rate by counting the rises or falls of his chest for one minute. If he’s taking more than 32 breaths per minute or you notice there is an abdominal effort to breathe, it may indicate a heart problem.

4. Behavior changes. In a dog, look for increased or generalized restlessness, especially at night, as though she can’t decide where to lie down. In cats, withdrawing or hiding can be a sign of compromised heart function.

5. Fainting or collapsing. If heart disease is severe or advanced, pets may faint or collapse. Cats may experience collapsing episodes accompanied by paralysis of the front or back legs, and vocalization. These are clearly signs of a very serious medical emergency and your pet needs to see a veterinarian right away.

6. Weight fluctuations. Pets with long-term heart disease typically experience weight loss, but weight gain is also possible as a result of fluid accumulation in the abdomen. Look for a bloated or pot belly.

Heart disease in dogs can be congenital (hereditary), but the vast majority of cases (95 percent) are acquired. You can reduce the chance your pet will acquire heart problems by taking the following steps:

1. Feed a human-grade, meat-based diet, and eliminate all fillers such as grains and unnecessary carbohydrates

2. Help your pet maintain a healthy body weight through regular aerobic exercise

3. Take excellent care of your pet’s dental health (bacteria from dirty mouths have been linked to heart valve infections) Back to Gucci, who has been diagnosed to have stage B2 or C of heart disease with pulmonary hypertension, is being taken good care of. Under proper medical treatment and attentivecare, his sign of coughing at night fades and his waistline becomes back to normally slim just like a few year ago.

Video credit: Gucci’s pawrent, Brae Ho


Hellodog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See more details here.

  • Sharing is caring
Be the first to comment

Log in
Don't have an account? Sign up now — it's fast and free.

You may also like

Sign up for Subscription

Special offers and free parenting tips delivered to your inbox, a few times a month.