Everything You Need to Know About Boston Terrier Heart Problems

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Several diseases can take away the life of our beloved Boston Terrier. One of those is a heart problem. Heart problems on Boston Terriers have different types, symptoms, and treatments. In this article, we will talk about everything that you need to know about Boston Terrier heart problems. So, read on!

Everything You Need to Know About Boston Terrier Heart Problems

Symptoms of heart problems in Boston Terriers in early stages may be invisible. Yet they can be diagnosed through a clinical evaluation by a vet. If your Boston Terrier experiences heart failure, here are the symptoms that may arise:

  • Heart enlargement
  • Coughing
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Fainting 
  • Profound intolerance to exercise 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Passing out
  • Easily tired
  • Panting
  • Potbelly caused by a fluid build-up

Diagnosis for Different Heart Problems in Boston Terriers

If your Boston Terrier has a heart murmur or physical signs that suggest heart problems, diagnostic testing will be performed to determine the presence and severity of the disease. To monitor the valve degeneration, the extent of damage, disease progression and to know the best way to treat it, these procedures will be done by a vet.

  • Radiographs (X-rays)
  • Ultrasound
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Blood and urine test
Boston terrier standing on wooden floor

Facts About Heart Disease in Boston Terriers

  • Heart failure is the second leading cause of death of Boston terriers. Around 15% of Boston deaths are related to heart disease. Cancer is still the top cause.
  • 75% of heart disease in Boston Terriers is caused by valve deterioration. It can be described as the blockage or narrowing of the valve preventing blood from passing through.
  • If heart problems are caught early on, proper medications can slow heart degeneration and increase the lifespan of your Boston. The average survival time of dogs after diagnosis of advanced heart failure is 281 days.

Types of Heart Disease in Boston Terriers

Heart diseases in Boston Terriers can be divided into two main categories. Here are they with some specific classifications:

Congenital Conditions

Congenital conditions are present from birth. These heart diseases can be passed on from parents to puppies.

The most common congenital conditions in Boston Terriers are:

Congestive heart failure (CHF)

It is a heart condition that is worsening over time. It means that a dog’s heart can no longer deliver enough blood to its body. CHF can be brought on by high blood pressure, congenital heart defects, heartworm disease, or a variety of other disorders.

Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Loss of appetite
  • Gray or blue gums
  • Potbelly

Congestive heart failure can occur at any age, in any breed, or in dogs of any gender, but it happens most often in middle-aged to older dogs. Some dogs experience sudden death.

Other Causes of Congestive Heart Failure
  • Defects in the heart walls
  • Fluid in the sac surrounding the heart
  • Heart rhythm abnormalities
  • Endocarditis (an infection of the heart valves)
  • Tumors
  • Pregnancy
Treatment for Congestive Heart Failure

The possible treatments for CHF depend on how the disease developed. If it is caused by a congenital condition, a surgical repair may be an option.

Most dogs with congestive heart failure require medications for the rest of their lives. Periodic blood tests, x-rays, and echocardiograms (echo) are often needed to monitor treatment success and disease progression.

The second most common congenital heart disease for Bostons is pulmonic stenosis.

Pulmonic stenosis (PS)

Pulmonic stenosis is the narrowing of the pulmonic heart valve, found on the right side, which is the passageway of blood from the heart to the lung.

Dogs with valve disease like PS have heart murmurs that can be heard with a stethoscope. Dogs with mild pulmonic stenosis may live a normal life. 

Symptoms of Pulmonic Stenosis
  • Tiring easily
  • Fainting
  • Fluid accumulation in the belly
  • Blue-tinge to the gums
Treatment for Pulmonic Stenosis

There are available treatments for pulmonic stenosis like balloon valvuloplasty wherein a special kind of balloon will be inflated in the pulmonic valve. After the balloon valvuloplasty, the dog will be examined three months later and then yearly. 

Surgery is also an option. Unfortunately, medication is not very helpful to manage this heart disease

Boston terrier sleeping

Acquired Conditions

Acquired conditions typically develop over time in middle-aged and older dogs. It is the result of normal wear, tear, and aging. Aside from heart problems that may arise from birth, about 95% are acquired.

Three of the most occurring acquired conditions are:

  • Canine Valvular disease: It occurs when the heart valves weaken and begin to leak. The valves are supposed to keep the blood flowing in one direction. If it weakens, it means that there is a possible backflow of blood.
  • Arrhythmias: It refers to the irregular beating of your dog’s heart. Small dogs, like Bostons, have a normal heartbeat of 120-160 beats per minute.
  • Pericardial disease: Develops when the sac that surrounds the heart fills with fluid and affects the dog’s heartbeat.

Preventing Heart Problems in Boston Terriers

There is no foolproof way to prevent heart disease or any other health issues in Boston Terriers. But you can take steps to help your dog live a healthy and normal life. 

Healthy Diet

It is important to give your Boston a nutritionally superior diet to minimize heart problems. Include Taurine (amino acid) and Omega-3 Fatty Acids (fish oil) in their diet. These foods are good for your pet and its heart. Provide them a high-quality natural meat-based diet with at least 25-30% protein. Avoid salty food!

Physical Activities

Exercise is an essential key part of having a healthy dog. While every dog requires exercise, if your dog has been diagnosed with heart disease, make sure to limit strenuous activity. Carefully monitor your Boston Terrier afterward.

Weight Management

As all heart patients are advised to, your Boston Terrier will be advised to lose any extra weight. Weight management helps lessen stress on organs. Having the right body weight will result in a healthy heart and lungs.

Boston terriers have three weight categories: under 15 pounds, 15 to under 20 pounds, and 20 to 25 pounds. 

Maintain Oral Health

Studies have shown that maintaining oral health is a great first line of defense. When bacteria are ingested, they can harm many organs. Always give your dog fresh water and food in a clean bowl. 

Regular Veterinary Checkups

Regular assessment of your dog’s health is necessary. With this, you can be prepared and take steps before any know or unknown disease starts or gets worse.

How to Take Care of Boston Terriers with Heart Problems

If any heart disease is caught early enough and treated properly, your Boston Terrier could live for many years. Here are some ways to take good care of your dog with heart disease.

  • Make sure to follow your vet’s dosage instructions. 
  • Regular blood tests, radiographs, and echocardiograms may be necessary to monitor your pet’s condition.
  • Ask your vet about proper diet and exercise specifically for your dog.
  • Sodium or salt restriction is necessary with more severe heart disease.

Final Thoughts

In most cases, the heart problem cannot be cured. The right treatment will improve dogs’ quality and length of life.

Still, prevention is better than cure. Keep your Boston Terrier healthy and happy. Ensure that it gets a certain amount of exercise regularly and a balanced diet. Take proper care and vet advice to help your pet grow, live well, and to the full span of its life.