Heart Attack in Dogs

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Treatment of Heart Attack in Dogs

Treatment for syncope depends on the underlying cause.

  • Heart disease. Appropriate treatment of the heart disease may stop the episodes.
  • Tachyarrhythmias. Antiarrhythmic drugs (drugs given to stop an abnormal heart rhythm) may interrupt or slow the fast rhythm. Digitalis or beta-blockers are examples of antiarrhythmic drugs given to slow a fast heart rhythm.
  • Bradyarrhythmias. When slow heart rhythms are severe enough to result in collapse, it may require the implantation of a pacemaker. The decision to recommend a pacemaker implantation would be made by your veterinarian with the input of a cardiac specialist.
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure). Identification and treatment of the cause of low blood pressure. Any medications which depress systemic blood pressure may need to be adjusted. Do not stop a prescribed medication before first consulting with your veterinarian.
  • Home Care

    Do not attempt to deliver CPR to your dog, unless you have specifically been trained to administer pet CPR. These attempts are more likely to result in injury to the pet than improve the condition. Remember, true heart attacks are very rare in dogs and cats and is unlikely to be the cause of your pet’s collapse.

    If your pet collapses, try to place a hand on his chest and determine if the heart is racing or is very slow. Time the event and make observations/notes as to what the pet is doing. Be careful, your dog may not recognize you during the spell, and could be aggressive. If the episode is not over within three or four minutes, carefully transport your pet to your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency clinic.

    Your pet should be examined by your veterinary as soon as is safely possible after an episode. For an animal with repeat episodes, you should keep a log of the episodes (date, time, duration, etc) to show your veterinarian.

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