Could panting and coughing be signs of heart disease in dogs?
Original Question: "Hi I'm just wondering if panting can be an early symptom of congestive heart failure? I have a 9-year-old dog who coughs after drinking and getting up in the morning." - Anonymous
Thanks for your question.
I first have to say that it is impossible for you and me to figure out if heart disease is present just based on a few clinical symptoms. I would strongly suggest you visit your veterinarian for a consultation and physical exam. Even in the exam alone they can determine if a heart murmur is present, if the lungs sound like they have some edema, if there is irritation in the trachea on palpation, if weight loss has occurred, and other symptoms such as respiratory rate, an enlarged liver and vascular issues such as pulse deficits and hepatojugular reflexes.
The quick answer to your question is that yes, the symptoms you mention can all occur with heart disease and heart failure in dogs. However, these symptoms can occur with other diseases such as pneumonia, kennel cough, laryngeal paralysis, and other diseases of the upper and lower airway.
To adequately evaluate cardiac function, you’re veterinarian will likely recommend blood and urine testing, chest radiographs, electrocardiogram, blood pressure testing, and a test that is best at determining the type of heart disease present, it’s severity, prognosis and recommended treatment, which is an echocardiogram for dogs. This test is often performed by an ultrasonographer, a specialist who visits the clinic or you may be directed to a referral centre to see a veterinary cardiologist.
I hope this helps. Good luck.
Dr. Clayton Greenway
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