Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) in dogs refers to a group of conditions that are present at birth and affect the structure or function of the heart. These abnormalities can vary in severity and may impact the dog’s overall health and quality of life.
Common signs may include exercise intolerance, difficulty breathing, coughing, fainting, bluish gums or tongue (cyanosis), poor growth, or fluid accumulation in the abdomen or limbs. According to studies, mixed-breed dogs had the highest instances of CHD. Unfortunately, people keep breeding certain dogs despite knowing about severe health issues.
In this article, we will seek to understand why some dog breeds are prone to CHD. We will also explore what pet owners can do to reduce the risk of such heart diseases in their dogs.
Why Do Some Dog Breeds Have A Higher Risk of CHD?
The increased risk of congenital heart disease (CHD) in certain dog breeds is primarily attributed to genetic factors. Breeds that are prone to CHD often have a higher prevalence of specific genetic mutations or traits that predispose them to heart abnormalities.
Selective breeding practices and the concentration of specific genes within certain breeds often contribute to an increased likelihood of passing on genetic predispositions to offspring. In simpler terms, breeding dogs that carry genes for heart defects can lead to a higher incidence of CHD within the breed.
This can most notably be seen in pitbull breeds and newer variations like Micro Bullies. Many breeds in the “bull” family, such as the Pocketbull, American Bulldog, and Micro Bullies, are prone to a host of health risks. Sadly, congenital heart disease is one of the many risks that breeders are aware of but continue to ignore.
Since breeders focus on changing the dog’s size rather than on its health, health issues are far more likely to develop. According to New Pitbull, Micro Bullies are quite prone to the congenital heart problems often found in the Bulldog family, which include septal defects, mitral valve, and subaortic and pulmonic stenosis.
What Can Pet Owners Do To Lower the Risk of CHD?
While congenital heart disease (CHD) is primarily a genetic condition that cannot be entirely prevented, there are some steps that pet owners can take to potentially reduce the risk or impact of CHD in their dogs.
Provide Regular Veterinary Care
Regular check-ups and examinations by a veterinarian can help in the early detection of CHD or any signs of developing heart disease. Veterinarians are trained to listen to heart sounds, detect murmurs, and assess other clinical signs that may indicate a potential heart issue.
Dogs with either CHD or risk of CHD may require specific lifestyle modifications, including exercise restrictions, dietary adjustments, and weight management strategies. Early detection also allows for prompt intervention and management, which can help improve the quality of life for your dog.
Avoid Putting Your Dog Through Stress
Stress can elevate heart rate, increase blood pressure, and potentially worsen the symptoms of CHD. Try to create a calm and low-stress environment for your dog. As much as possible, minimize exposure to loud noises, such as fireworks or loud music.
This is because stress can elevate heart rate, increase blood pressure, and potentially worsen the symptoms of CHD.
Another common source of stress for many dogs is social interactions involving new people and other dogs. Proper socialization is important for all dogs, especially those with CHD.
However, when socializing with your dog, you want to introduce new experiences and interactions gradually and in a controlled manner. Expose your dog to positive and enjoyable experiences, such as gentle playdates with well-behaved dogs or calm outings to dog-friendly places.
Manage Weight With Carefully Monitored Diets
Many of the dogs who are at risk of CHD can increase their risk if they become overweight and have improper diets. For instance, Sodium (salt) intake should be carefully moderated for dogs with CHD. Excessive sodium can contribute to fluid retention and worsen symptoms such as fluid accumulation in the abdomen or limbs.
On the other hand, Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish oil, have anti-inflammatory properties and can support your dog’s heart health. They can help reduce inflammation in the cardiovascular system and improve overall cardiac function.
Most importantly, keep in mind that dietary recommendations will vary depending on the specific CHD condition and individual dog. Don’t blindly follow something you see on the internet. Always consult with your veterinarian for specific dietary guidelines and recommendations tailored to your dog’s needs.
CHD is an unfortunate condition that many dogs are prone to. Sadly, dog breeders often prioritize money over the health of dogs. Dog breeding can be a lucrative business for many people as prices for some breeds can be over tens of thousands of dollars.
There needs to be more awareness about the dangers of breeding dogs in ways that worsen their health. Pet owners can also do their part by not buying or supporting dog breeders who are in the field only for the money.