Signs of Heart Disease

In the early stages of heart disease, your dog's body may make adjustments to allow him or her to cope with the disease. During this stage of the disease, your dog may show no visible signs of being unwell.


As time goes by and the disease progresses into clinical heart failure, your dog's body will no longer be able to make adjustments for the disease progression. At this stage, owners often notice deterioration in their dog's health.


Signs of heart failure in your dog that you may notice include any of the following in any combination:


  • Coughing
  • Changes in breathing
    • Difficulty with breathing
    • Shortness of breath
    • Laboured breathing
    • Rapid/fast breathing
  • Changes in behaviour
    • Tiring easily
    • Reluctance to exercise/not wanting to go for walks
    • Less playful
    • Slowing down/lack of energy
    • Depressed/withdrawn
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Fainting/collapsing
  • Weakness
  • Restlessness, especially at night
  • Swollen abdomen


The signs of heart failure can be subtle and mistaken for changes associated with aging. Watch as your dog goes about his or her daily activities. If you notice any changes in your dog's behaviour, appetite, or level of movement, talk to your veterinarian.


If you have noticed 2 or more of the signs above, talk to your veterinarian about heart disease and heart failure during your visit.


Facts about heart disease brochure

Learn more about canine heart disease…and help protect your dog’s heart.