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What is Heart Attack?

A heart attack, or “myocardial infarction,” happens when blood is blocked from reaching the heart muscle (myocardium). Deprived of oxygen and nutrients, the heart muscle dies and the affected heart chamber can no longer effectively pump blood through the body. Canine heart attacks have been seen in all breeds and are very rare. Increased risk for heart attack can be seen accompanying heart disease, congenital heart abnormalities, and genetic predisposition. Heart attacks require emergency medical attention and can result in sudden death. Canine heart attacks have been seen in all breeds and are very rare. If you notice symptoms of a heart attack in your dog, keep calm, do not attempt CPR, and contact a veterinarian immediately.

Heart Attack Average Cost

From 21 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$8,000

Symptoms of Heart Attack in Dogs

There is little warning for a heart attack event. Collapse may be the first symptom observed. Symptoms associated with canine heart attack can include:

  • Slight fever (over 103° Fahrenheit/39.4° Celsius)
  • Vomiting
  • Panting/abnormal breathing
  • Increased heart rate (over 100 beats per minute for large breeds) (over 140 beats per minute for small breeds)
  • Lethargy
  • Head tilt
  • Confusion/Anxiety
  • Immobility
  • Rigidity
  • Seizure
  • Collapse
  • Sudden death
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Causes of Heart Attack in Dogs

Causes of heart attack in dogs include:

  • Tumor

    : Tumor masses growing on or around the heart vasculature can block blood flow to the heart muscle.

  • Hypothyroidism

    : Thyroid gland does not produce thyroxine hormone – responsible for converting food to fuel for the body.

  • Nephrotic Syndrome

    : Kidney damage results in loss of protein involved in preventing blood clot formation. Blood clots are one cause of canine heart attack.

  • Bacterial infection

    : Infection in the body can lead to inflammation and blockage of blood flow to the heart muscle.

  • Vasculitis

    : Blood vessel inflammation as a result of infection, immune-mediated disease, or other injury to endothelial linings. Results in narrowed vasculature.

  • Atherosclerosis

    : Plaque builds up in the arteries, restricting blood flow or rupturing arteries. Rare in dogs but has been reported in some breeds.

  • Coronary artery disease

    : Extremely rare in dogs. Occurs only with severe hypothyroidism and associated high serum cholesterol levels.

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Diagnosis of Heart Attack in Dogs

If you notice symptoms of a heart attack in your pet

, keep calm and carefully wrap the pet in a blanket to calm him. Do not attempt CPR unless you have been professionally trained and know it is necessary. CPR can do more harm than good if it is not needed. Do not attempt to feed or water in case of vomiting/asphyxiation. Keep young children away from the pet as pain and panic can cause aggressive behavior.

Calmly place your palm on the left side of the chest to feel the heart rate. Count the number of beats in 15 seconds and multiply your answer by 4. This gives you the number of beats per minute. Normal heart rate in dogs will be around 60-140 beats per minute. Transport your pet to the veterinarian if symptoms continue.

If your pet collapses

, keep calm and carefully wrap her in a blanket and transport her to the veterinary clinic. Try to keep the events leading up to the collapse in your mind so you can report them to the veterinarian.

The veterinarian will collect any history as to what led up to the symptoms or collapse event. The vet will listen to the heart for abnormal murmur, pulse, or arrhythmia. Laboratory diagnostics can reveal valuable information as to cardiac function and possible causes of symptoms you are observing.

  • Electrocardiography (EKG)

    : Determines cardiac electrical impulses and measures arrhythmias.

  • Complete Blood Cell Count (CBC)

    : Determines red and white blood cell count, can detect possible infection.

  • Biochemistry

    : Examines kidney and liver function.

  • Urinalysis

    : Examines kidney and metabolic function.

  • Thyroid

    : Examines thyroid gland function.

  • Echocardiography

    : Detects fluid or masses around the heart, heart valve function, heart muscle and pericardial health.

  • Chest X-ray

    : Determines size of heart, fluid around heart, possible masses.

A Holter monitor or ambulatory EKG is useful to monitor heart health at home. Electrodes are taped onto the chest and the device is strapped on the back for 24 hours. The heart rhythms are recorded and times of rest versus times of exercise or stress are reported by the owner. The recording is analyzed for abnormal heart activity.

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Treatment of Heart Attack in Dogs

Initial treatment may involve resuscitation and supportive care, depending on seriousness of the event. The initial goal is to regain normal heart activity. Medications may be used to thin the blood for ease of circulation. Hospitalization is often necessary to continue heart monitoring until the veterinary staff is certain the pet is stable.

A variety of medications are available for cardiac abnormalities depending on the identified cause. Pacemaker implants are more widely available for canines predisposed to heart problems. Surgery may be required to remove any mass that may be obstructing blood flow to or from the heart. Thyroid replacement medications are common and available. Various diets and medications may provide preventive/supportive care for renal disease if damage is not severe. Antibiotics may prevent further damage to vessels and heart lining resulting from infection or inflammation. Anti-arrhythmic medications can correct arrhythmias.

Once the pet has become stabilized, potential of recurrence is based on cause of the problem and severity of the myocardial infarction. Surgery and medications can extend the life of the pet for many years when the issue is diagnosed early and treated responsibly. Medications may need to be administered over the remaining life of the pet. In the case of collapse, your pet may need to remain in the hospital overnight or longer for monitoring.

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Recovery of Heart Attack in Dogs

The life of your pet after heart attack will depend on the severity of the attack and its cause. Lifelong treatment may be required in the case of hypothyroidism, renal or heart disease. Regular heart monitoring in the veterinary clinic or with an ambulatory EKG recorder may be necessary to ensure stabilization over the first few weeks or months, possibly a few times per year for younger pets.

Activity restriction may be necessary for the first month while the pet stabilizes. Owners may want to become familiar with normal heart and breathing rate of their pet so rates can be taken after various times of high activity or stress. Change of diet or dietary supplements may be suggested by the veterinarian depending on the cause and severity of the event.

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Heart Attack Average Cost

From 21 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$8,000

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Heart Attack Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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I don’t know

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Eight Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Stomach Full With Fluid And Hard Breathing

After a dog has a heart attack can they go into a coma ?

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I wouldn't say that a dog would have a heart attack and survive, but with heart disease, they can become unresponsive, yes. If this is your dog that you were asking about, it would be best to have your dog seen by a veterinarian immediately. I hope that all goes well.

Aug. 6, 2020

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Pam

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Jack Russell Terrier

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4 Months

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Vomiting
Twitching
Bloodlike Colored Stool

My Pam just died an hour ago and I don't know how or why. Mom told that before she left our house, my Pam was still playing with the other dogs... When I got home, all of our 5 dogs(including her) was so excited for having me home. Sat down a bit and my other dog sat down beside me too. I was playing all of them but then in a sudden moment, Pam suddenly paused and then layed down as if she was lifeless. I panicked out of shock. That was like at 5PM. She was vomiting the food she ate earlier(dog food). We thought she was just full but it was something else for me. I reportedly told my mom what happened to Pam then I was holding Pam facing in front of her like a baby. Mom was shocked because Pam suddenly peed like I think she had no control of doing it(shes a good pup). We didnt bother much because we thought, again, she was just full. And then she went out to the yard(Which means that she could still walk that time) for I dont know what reason so I started finding her almost everywhere in our lot because I know that this will happen (her, dying). When I found her, Her body was already a bit cold, her feet, her belly, her ears. I brought her back in the house, making her feel the warmth from me. I was so concerned that when I held her feet, it was too cold, and her belly having only half heat. I checked her mouth for further notice so that I can know if she's still okay. But When I checked her mouth, her gums was already white and dried and I tried giving her ample of water so that she won't get dried up (apparently I thought it sort of worked because she was able to gain saliva in her mouth again). As time was passing by, I thought she was slowly getting better because she was having her own body heat. I placed her beside me on my bed so that I can watch her closely. She still moved. Then I fell asleep within an hour and I felt her twitching like the act of having some seizures. So I quickly placed her on the floor to see what's happening to her and sadly, she looke liked she was having a hard time. Heavy breathing, catching her breath. Later on a bit, she suddenly stopped the heavy breathings. Her breathing was slowly fading but her heart wast still beating for 5 mins. Then I flashed a light on her eyes to see if it still dilates, but it wasn't responsive anymore, her pupil was steadily big. Upon her dying moment, on her heavy breathing, she was able to fart for like 3 times. I thought nothing came out of her butt. But when I picked her up to put her out of our room, she was able to push out a bloodlike colored stool. It wasn't soft or liquid but it looked grainy. Is there any possible connection (her stool) to die like this sudden? Please, I beg you to answer my questions, What could be the possible reason of her death? For that whole 6 hrs (5 PM to 1AM) From a happy active pup, to being lethargic, to vomiting, to twitching, to having bloodlike colored stool, to non responsive pupil (her death) Please, email me at marielencordia03@gmail.com, if you ever notice this... Thanks...

July 10, 2018

Pam's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Whilst I understand that this is a distressing time, I cannot determine a cause of death without performing a necropsy and I don’t want to randomly speculate on a cause; puppies may be affected especially by infection, poisoning, parasites or internal disease. If you’re looking for specific answers, you should ask your Mom to take Pam for a necropsy to give you the answers you’re looking for. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 11, 2018

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Millie

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Patterdale Terrier

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12 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Panting, Shaking, Loss Of Appetite

My 12 year old patterdale terrier Millie passed away today suddenly she was fine yesterday until the evening when she started shaking and breathing heavily she also started panting and she wouldn't eat her dinner.I comforted her and she layed next to me as she does most evenings I thought she must be hot due to warm weather she seemed to improve later on and excepted a couple treats and drank water and the next day I got up for work as usual and took her for a morning walk as I do every morning and she seemed happy and excited for her walk I then brought her back watched tv for 10 minutes with her next to me i noticed her tummy seemed bloated but she was a fairly chubby dog. When I left she jumped up on the sofa to look out the window with our other dog Max and seemed well. My mother in law came down 3 hours later to let them out as she always does and she was layed on the floor she was still warm and there was poo on the sofa. However we had taken Millie to the vets 2 months ago because she had soft lumps which were described as fat lumps he said it was common on dogs and told me to monitor them and if any started to go hard to take her back as this could prove they were cancerous. Could the lumps be something to do with her sudden death? she was fit and healthy with no signs of her being ill it just doesn't make sense how suddenly she passed away we are very very upset about it she was a very lively and loving dog we will miss her so much. Your response would be appreciated thanks, Paul

June 20, 2018

Millie's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It can be distressing losing a loved one, especially when they seemed so active and full of life just hours earlier; I cannot tell you specifically what caused Millie’s death but many conditions may not show any outwards symptoms and death does come as a shock. I don’t want to speculate what the cause may have been but I doubt the suspected lipomas would have been a factor in her passing; if you’re looking for specific answers I would recommend that you have your Veterinarian perform a necropsy to give you the answers you’re looking for. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 21, 2018

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whita

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Labrador Retriever

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11 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy

My pet whita is a labrador 11years old. He was bitten by another domestic dog. his ears were bitten. we gave cefuroxime 250mg and doxycyline. second day we gave a bath to clean and gave paracetamol500mg. his weight is about 20kg. after two hours he started sleeping. suddenly another pet came near to her and bark. he was suddenly died.

June 17, 2018

whita's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

That is a high dosage of pain medication for Whita to have gotten, but shouldn't have caused any toxic signs unless he had an underlying problem or his bite wounds were more severe than you thought. I'm very sorry that Whita passed away so unexpectedly.

June 17, 2018

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Daisy may pierson

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Maltese

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10 Days

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking
Panting
Tongue Sticking Out

We rescued my dog when I was in Middle School she had stones I'm worried there coming back she's been panting shaking and sticking her tongue out all at once I don't know what to do I don't know if I should just let it be or if I should be concerned about it

April 2, 2018

Daisy may pierson's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Panting, tongue sticking out and shaking may be due to a variety of conditions which may be indicating fever, pain, respiratory difficulty among other symptoms; either way you would need to visit your Veterinarian to confirm or make any diagnosis so that treatment may be given. Without examining Daisy May I cannot say what the specific cause is, but if it seems she is struggling to breathe you should visit an Emergency Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 2, 2018

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Lady

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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11 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Heavy Breathing, Coughing
Heart Attacks, Coughing, Panting

Our 11 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was diagnosed with a heart murmur 3-4 years ago. She is now at stage 5 and has started having frequent heart attacks or seizures when she gets excited. We try to prevent her running or getting excited, but can't always avoid it. She falls on her side suddenly. Her breathing very fast, panting most of the time. She quickly recovers from these events, acting normal and happy (tail wagging) afterward, until the next attack. She has had more than 4 attacks in the last week. We don't know how long this can go on before she won't recover.

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Madison

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Goldendoodle

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13 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

None, She Was Behaving Normal

Although our goldendoodle was 13 years old she showed little sign of aging. Loved walks, maybe not as long. Still played with her toys, and always very happy to greet us when we came through the door. We always thought it would be her hip/back leg that would bring her journey to an end, as she got older she struggled getting up from laying on the floor. The Vet noted at her annual checkup (4 weeks prior to her passing) she had lost 10 lbs over 8 month period, her eating habits had never changed, she never missed a meal. Suddenly one day, she dropped to the floor, I scooped her up and put her in her bed, her legs were solid like logs, she went into a heavy rapid panting, she moved to a fetal position and within 10 minutes was gone. I had no clue that day was going to be her last... heartbroken

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Coco

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Cross Breed (Cattle dog x Stitzu)

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12 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking
Collapse
Loss Of Balance
Breathing Difficulties
Foaming At The Mouth
Bulging Eyes

Today my family and I were sitting outside when my dog Coco starting acting weird. My mum was trying to get his attention as he was walking around our patio funny. His mouth started to foam and it seemed like he was choking, the only thing he had eaten prior to this was a small bit of chicken about the size of a finger nail for scale (my other dog also had a bit and he was perfectly fine) then my mum sat with him and he seemed to have losses feeling in one side of his body and couldn’t walk on his back leg. After about a minute he collapsed and I think he started to have a seizure or a heart attack, his eyes looked like they were going to pop out of his head and his mouth was still full of this white foam. My mum kept wiping his mouth trying to get it out of his mouth so he could breathe and we stayed and comforted him thinking this might be his last moments. After a few minutes of that he stopped shaking and his mouth stopped foaming and he was up and walking around as normal in a few minutes. I know it great that he’s alive and all but I’m still so worried. As he is a much older dog my parents don’t want to take him to the vet because they think the only option is to have him put down. Should I keep pushing for them to take him to the vet?? I’m only 16 so I can’t take him myself as I can’t drive to our vet. Please if you have anything that could help me that would be great x

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Russle

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Maltese

dog-age-icon

12 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Vomit,Collapsed

I have never had a pet, and seven years ago my mum had taken in a Maltese dog named Russle. His owners had relocated and he seemed to be very sad and took him a long time to even bark. I moved out in the year my mum got him, and my mum passed away two years ago leaving him with my sister and brother. Last March my sister relocated to Europe, and Russle was left with my brother who was mostly working.I had not seen Russle in two years and returned home to spend time with my brother before travelling. I noticed Russle looked really sad, and lost. He would often stare into space, and tremble. I thought perhaps he was old but still concerned. On the 10th of March I was making his lunch when I noticed he had thrown up some bile and pooped himself, he lay over on his side for about ten minutes very still and was very quiet. He tried to walk and could not. I then panicked and took him to the 24/7 vet which was quite far. The vet advised that it seemed Russle had a heart condition. I am unemployed and did not have money to do an xray as the consult was already 1000 Rand,or to keep him over night and continue with treatment and to know the actual illness. The vet then advised that I should consider putting him down. Against her advice I took him home intending to take him to a vet near by the next day. The vet just gave him some oxygen and advised he wont last long if I take him home. I still had hope and prayed over him and took him home,Russle only lasted four hours and passed on late at night. I am devastated and want to know if I had the money would he have survived. How is it possible for him to be fine the one day and then just die. When we got him he was about 4-6 years old so he was around 12 years old. I do not understand his sudden passing and feel very guilty.

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Hannah

dog-breed-icon

boxer cross

dog-age-icon

14 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Fainting/Collapsing

My 14 year old dog is eating and drinking normally, she loves her walks and pulls on the way to the beach. However, she has recently started ‘collapsing’ after running - we no longer throw stones or wood for her to collect, but she seems to think she’s a young pup again! She will fall backwards or on her side and her eyes roll back. After 20-30 seconds she’s alert again and within a few mi utes she’s happily trotting along and wagging her tail. No Obvious side effects or lasting effects. Any ideas would be welcome.

Heart Attack Average Cost

From 21 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$8,000

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