Walk a Dog

The management of each pet with heat disease is done on a case by case basis.  There is no one formula that can tell us how to manage each pet.  We need to tailor

  • Medication
  • Exercise
  • Diet

to each patient to ensure they live as WELL as is possible.  Many types of heart disease are not curable.  We manage them to ensure good quality of life.


When your pet is diagnosed with heart disease and eventually - cardiac failure, it is important to outline the goals of any treatment you decide to implement.  You need to discuss those with the vet to ensure they are achievable.  The one goal that I as a vet aim for is as mentioned "Quality of Life", it is not my aim to prolong you dogs life if I cannot do so with a decent quality.  


Each cause of heart disease will be managed very differently with medication.  

  • Mitral Valve Disease
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
  • Arrhythmias

It is very important to know which type of heart disease or failure your pet has, if you are unsure call us on 0733571588 and we can run through it with you.

Treatment and Management



  1. Medication -  it is beyond the scope of a article on general health to discuss all the different medical treatments for heart failure, broadly medications fall in into these categories

    1. Diuretics - drugs designed to cause a pet to produce more urine and lower the peripheral blood pressure t improve cardiac output.

    2. ACE inhibitors - drugs designed to lower peripheral vascular resistance and improve cardiac forward output

    3. Cardiac Muscle Stimulants - drugs designed to improve the way the heart beats to improve its output

    4. Others - these are more specific tailored drugs for specific types of cardiac disease, e.g. Drugs designed to lower pressure in the lungs

  2. Diet
    The first aim of any diet  is to maintain body weight - no matter how "good" a diet is for a specific disease if your pet loses weight because they don't like it, it isn't worth feeding.   That being said:
    1. The Good Stuff
      1. Taurine - more for cats than dogs, but some home made diets can be deficient.
      2. OMEGA 3 Oils  - good for dogs with reduced appetite and weight loss - aim for a ration of 3 parts EPA to 2 parts DHA we can advise on more specific amounts when we see you.
      3. Vitamin B12 and other B group vitamins  - not specific for heart disease, but can be come deficient in pets with poor intestinal function secondary to heart disease
  3. Exercise
    Exercise is important for all pets whether they have heart failure or just heart disease.  It is  how much that is the critical question. Exercise should not create cardiac stress in your pet.  If the pet becomes "panty" or appears distressed you have done too much.  A short walk is generally all most of these pets can cope with 10-15 minutes at the most, some cannot even cope with that.   
    Counting your pets respiratory rate can help decide whether they have any fluid on the chest that may impair or worsen with exercise.  Report that respiratory count to your treating vet can tailor treatment and improve the cardiovascular function making exercise possible.  Pets with severe cardiac dysfunction should not be exercised at all without discussion with the treating vet.

It is not possible to outline a 1 fits all plan for heart disease and failure in pets.  The outline above is broad and really should be used as a starting point for discussion with the vet treating your pet.  

Finally - here is an interesting point:

Owning pets is associated with reducing your risk of heart disease, and there are a variety of reasons that may be at work that influence this relationship. It may be that healthier people are more likely to be pet owners or that people with dogs tend to exercise more. Pets also play a role in providing social support to their owners, which is an important factor in helping you stick with a new habit or adopting a new healthy behavior.

American Association of Heart Disease

So for those of you with healthy hearted pets - it may well have saved yours!