Dogs, like people, can suffer from a variety of heart problems, especially as they get older, and especially if they are overweight. Dogs also face the added threat of heartworms, a parasitic nematode spread by mosquito bites. Fortunately this is not a threat in the UK, but it is something to be aware of if you’re taking your dog to countries like Spain where it is more of an issue.
For the most part dogs in the UK suffer from more conventional heart problems, usually resulting in an enlargement of the heart. This means it has to work harder to get the blood around the body, and eventually too much fluid may build up around the heart. The early signs of a heart problem are very much like those in people – breathing difficulties and a reduced ability to exercise. You might also notice unexplained weight loss or gain and a swelling in the abdomen. Unfortunately it is not generally possible to reverse the effects of heart disease, but once a vet has made a diagnosis there are usually medications and dietary measures that can mitigate the worst symptoms and make life more fun for your dog and you.