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Types of Heart Conditions in Small Dogs

Heart conditions in small dogs can vary widely, each with unique implications for the dog’s health and quality of life. Understanding these types can help owners recognize potential symptoms early and seek appropriate veterinary care. Here, we explore some of the most common heart conditions found in small dog breeds.


Small dog breeds are often predisposed to specific types of heart diseases due to their size and genetics. Early recognition and management are crucial in helping extend and improve the quality of their lives. Here’s a closer look at the most prevalent heart conditions in these dogs.

Types of Heart Conditions

Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) in Dogs

MVD is the most common heart condition in small dogs, particularly affecting older dogs. It involves the deterioration of the mitral valve, which can lead to blood leaking backward into the left atrium, causing the heart to work harder.


  • Coughing
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Reduced tolerance for exercise


  • Medications such as diuretics, ACE inhibitors, and sometimes beta-blockers
  • Regular monitoring of heart function

Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

PDA is a congenital heart defect more commonly seen in female dogs. It involves an abnormal blood flow between two major arteries coming from the heart. If not corrected, it can lead to heart failure.


  • Murmur (heard through stethoscope)
  • Weakness
  • Failure to thrive in puppies


  • Surgical correction, often involving catheter-based techniques

Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia (TVD)

TVD is a congenital defect where the tricuspid valve does not form correctly. It can lead to significant heart enlargement and failure.


  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Cough
  • Cyanosis (blue tinge to gums and skin)


  • Medications to manage symptoms
  • Surgery in severe cases

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

CHF can occur due to any chronic heart condition worsening over time. It’s common in small breeds as a late-stage complication of untreated or poorly managed heart disease.


  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing, especially at night
  • Collapse


  • Comprehensive heart medications
  • Lifestyle changes like low-salt diets


Arrhythmias involve irregular heart rhythms which can range from benign to life-threatening. They may be caused by underlying heart disease or as a standalone condition.


  • Fainting
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Restlessness


  • Medications to manage the heart rate
  • Advanced treatments like pacemakers


These are just a few examples of the types of heart conditions that can affect small dogs. Early detection and treatment are crucial for managing these conditions effectively. Regular veterinary check-ups can help spot early signs of heart disease and intervene appropriately to maintain your dog’s health and well-being.

Further Reading

Here are three additional resources for further information on heart conditions in small dogs:

  1. Merck Vet Manual – Heart Diseases in Dogs: This guide explores various heart diseases, focusing on those common in small breeds, including diagnostic and treatment options.
  2. Carolina Vet – Small Dog Heart Disease: Offers detailed explanations on how heart disease affects small dogs and outlines potential treatments. Visit Veterinary Partner
  3. Dog Cardiologist – Understanding Heart Conditions in Dogs: Provides insights into different heart conditions, their symptoms, and how they are diagnosed and treated. Visit Pet Health Network

Thank you for your interest in our article on types of heart conditions in small dogs. Be sure to check out the many comprehensive articles on our Dog Health Problems home page.

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