Dr. Kevin Christiansen, a Kansas City, Mo., veterinarian with the Mobile Dog Heart Health Tour, says about 11 percent of the nearly 75 million dogs in the United States have heart disease -- and that figure increases to 60 percent among older dogs and some breeds -- but most dog owners are unaware their dog may be at risk of heart failure.
"Early diagnosis and treatment of heart failure can significantly prolong and improve the quality of a dog's life," Christiansen says in a statement. "By emphasizing the importance of annual veterinary examinations and early diagnosis of heart disease, we hope to help more dogs live longer and better lives."
Since 2009, veterinarians on the Mobile Dog Heart Health Tour have checked the hearts of more than 5,000 dogs around the country.
Dog owners should know the most common symptoms of heart disease in their pet is reduced willingness to walk or exercise, difficulty breathing, coughing, loss of appetite and weight loss, veterinarians say.