Hot humid South Florida weather can add health stresses for a dog, especially if it is ill or elderly. While dog owners wait for the weather to cool, it is important to pay attention to signs of heat stroke, heat exhaustion and dehydration. These can lead to other serious health conditions.
If your dog is more than a little out-of-sorts and lethargic, a number of diseases could be the culprit, including an unusual or abnormal heartbeat. The symptoms of a heart murmur in dogs include coughing, lethargy, fainting, decreased energy, swollen limbs and abdominal swelling. If your dog exhibits these symptoms in combination, you should consult a veterinarian. The most dramatic indication of a heart murmur is fainting. This can be brought on by over-exertion or heat stress. Note that some heart murmurs are congenital and may disappear as a dog matures.
Some dog heart murmurs are insignificant, while others indicate a life threatening condition. If an the symptoms are not as severe as fainting, and the dog is otherwise healthy, generally a veterinarian does not prescribe treatment.
The most important preventative measure a dog owner can take for heart health, is to maintain a healthy weight in their dog. Regular vet exams, dental hygiene and a well-balanced diet with balanced carnitine, taurine and omega 3 all contribute to a heart to that is healthy enough to withstand rigors of exercise and weather.