Golden Retriever Heart Disease Symptoms

Did your Golden Retriever just get diagnosed with a heart issue? Heart disease is commonly seen in older dogs, especially Goldens

As your dog gets older, their hearts do not beat as they should. 

This can lead to many different signs. 

These signs will be different depending on what in the heart is not working. 

What are the symptoms of heart disease in Golden Retrievers?

The most common symptoms associated with heart disease in Golden Retrievers are:

  • Coughing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Collapsing episodes
  • Fluid in chest or abdomen
  • Excessive panting
  • Exercise Intolerance

If you notice any of these signs in your Golden Retriever, it is best to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. 

They can listen to your dog’s heart and lungs and help determine what is causing your Golden Retriever’s problem. 

What is Golden Retriever heart disease?

Large breed dogs can develop a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy or DCM. 

DCM is a heart condition that is seen where the heart is not functioning as it should. 

The heart will get larger to help the heart pump more blood to your dog’s body. 

When it gets bigger the walls of the heart get thinner. 

This causes your dog’s heart to not be able to function correctly and their heart condition to get worse. 

What are signs and symptoms of heart disease in Golden Retrievers?

If your Golden Retriever has heart issues their heart will start to get bigger.

Larger hearts cannot pump blood around the body as a healthy heart would. 

This would cause fluid to build up in your dog’s lungs and abdomen leading to the main signs that you would see with heart disease. 

These are 6 of the most common signs that you may see if your Golden Retriever has a heart issue.

1. Coughing 

Coughing is often the first sign that you may notice. 

This would be due to fluid accumulation in your dog’s chest. 

Your vet will be able to listen to your dog’s lungs to see if they hear crackles from the fluid in your Golden Retriever’s chest.

2. Trouble breathing

As the fluid builds up you may notice that your dog is having issues breathing

When their heart gets bigger and the fluid enters the chest, the lungs cannot fully expand as they should. 

This will cause your dog to have issues breathing. 

You may notice that they start to pant more and quicker when they are exercising. 

3. Collapsing episodes

One main sign of dogs with severe heart disease is that they collapse. This is called syncope and is often confused with a seizure. 

These dogs will be playing and walking and will just pass out. 

This is from lack of oxygen and blood circulating in their body. 

Usually, Golden Retrievers with syncope will quickly return to normal after just a few minutes whereas a dog with seizures will take a few hours before they are back to acting normal

4. Fluid in chest or abdomen

When your Golden Retriever’s heart starts to fail it will cause fluid to accumulate in their chest or abdomen

This fluid can quickly fill up your dog’s chest or abdomen. 

If the fluid is in the chest, you usually notice breathing issues very quickly. 

If fluid starts to fill up in your dog’s abdomen your dog may start to look like they are pregnant. 

Your vet can ultrasound your dog’s abdomen or chest to see if there is fluid.

They can also drain some of the fluid off their chest or abdomen to help them be able to breathe better. 

Golden Retriever Heart Disease Symptoms 1 Golden Retriever Heart Disease Symptoms

5. Excessive panting

Your Golden Retriever may be panting more than they normally do and make take longer to cool down and stop panting after they are playing. 

If your dog is panting even when they are inside and cool it would be best that your vet exams them and listens to their heart. 

6. Exercise Intolerance

Golden Retrievers with heart issues will not be able to play as long as they used to. They will become tired very quickly after they start to run. 

They may also no longer like to run and play as they did when they were younger. 

Many people will think that this is just their dog getting older but can also be due to heart issues that should be checked out by your vet. 

How is heart disease diagnosed in Golden Retrievers?

Your veterinarian may hear a murmur when they listen to your Golden Retriever’s heart with their stethoscope. 

This would indicate that there is a problem with your dog’s heart. 

There are other diagnostic tests that your veterinarian may want to run on your dog to help figure out what is wrong. 

Common tests ran on your dog’s heart are: 

  • Chest X rays: This helps assess the overall size of your dog’s heart and make sure that there is nothing else in their lungs that causes these issues.
  • Echocardiogram: This is an ultrasound of your dog’s heart to assess the thickness of the walls of the heart and see how it is functioning. 
  • EKG: This assesses the electrical activity of your dog’s heart. This will help tell your vet how effectively your dog’s heart is beating. 

Your veterinarian will use these tests to see how progressed your Golden Retriever’s heart disease is and get your dog started on medication. 

These tests will also need to be repeated frequently to see how this disease is progressing and 

Treating of Heart Disease in Golden Retrievers

Once your vet has figured out what is going on with your Golden Retriever’s heart, they can start medications to help your dog’s heart function more correctly. 

While most heart diseases cannot be reversed, there are medications that can be given to your Golden Retriever to help slow the progression and help their heart function better. 

Common medication used to help treat and prevent further worsening of their heart disease are:

  • Lasix (furosemide): This medication helps decrease the fluid accumulation in your Golden Retriever’s chest and abdomen. 
  • Vetmedin (Pimobendan): This medication helps your Golden Retriever’s heart function more properly. 
  • Enalapril: This medication helps the blood vessels dilate to help blood flow easier through your dog’s body. 

Depending on other health issues and your Golden Retrievers heart condition your veterinarian may start your dog on just a few of these medications or they may start all 3 at the same time. 

They may also put your dog on other medications depending on the signs.

Prognosis of heart disease in Golden Retriever’s

Many Golden Retrievers with heart disease can go on to live a long and healthy life despite their disease. 

You and your Golden Retriever will need to work closely with your vet to constantly monitor and adjust medication as needed to help make sure that any new changes in their heart condition are noticed and treated right away. 

Sometimes no matter how hard you try to treat your dog’s heart disease, sudden cardiac death happens and your Golden Retriever may have a shorter life because of their heart disease

How to prevent heart disease in Golden Retriever?

While preventing heart disease in Golden Retriever’s can be difficult, making sure that you get a Golden Retriever from a reputable breeder is the best way to ensure that you are getting a healthy dog.

Your breeder can test your dog’s parents for signs of heart issues. 

Many heart diseases are genetic and will be passed to their offspring.

Knowing that the breeder you buy your puppy from has tested her dogs for any genetic issues will help ensure that you have a happy and healthy Golden Retriever. 

Final Thoughts

Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a disease that is commonly seen in Golden Retrievers. 

Knowing what signs to look for you will be able to take your Golden Retriever to the vet as soon as you notice that there is something that is wrong. 

This way your Golden Retriever can receive treatment right away to help them live a long and healthy life. 

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