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Hardening and Blockage of the Arteries in Dogs

Atherosclerosis in Dogs

Atherosclerosis, a condition characterized by the accumulation of lipids, cholesterol, and calcium along artery walls, leads to the narrowing and loss of elasticity in these blood vessels, ultimately obstructing blood flow. This process, known as plaque buildup, can result in arterial blockage or the formation of blood clots that may travel to different parts of the body. In dogs, atherosclerosis is relatively rare but has been documented in specific breeds such as the Doberman pinscher, poodle, miniature schnauzer, and Labrador.

Several risk factors contribute to the development of atherosclerosis in dogs. Age is a significant factor, with dogs over nine years old being more susceptible. Additionally, male dogs are at higher risk compared to females. The presence of diabetes also increases the likelihood of atherosclerosis development in dogs.

Symptoms and Types

The symptoms associated with atherosclerosis in dogs include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Labored breathing
  • Fainting
  • General weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Blindness
  • Circling behavior
  • Disorientation
  • Difficulty walking, often accompanied by leg pain
  • Heart attack


To diagnose atherosclerosis in your dog, it’s crucial to provide a detailed history of your pet’s health leading up to the appearance of symptoms. Your veterinarian will perform various tests including a comprehensive blood profile, chemical blood profile, complete blood count, and urinalysis. Additional specific tests may be necessary depending on the suspected cause of atherosclerosis. Radiography and ultrasound imaging are valuable diagnostic tools for evaluating the condition of the heart, liver, and other organs. Electrocardiography (ECG) can also be utilized to assess the heart’s structure and functionality.


Upon thorough examination, your veterinarian will identify the root cause of atherosclerosis. Treating both the atherosclerosis and its underlying cause is crucial for a favorable outcome. Elevated cholesterol levels significantly contribute to atherosclerosis development, necessitating the administration of cholesterol-lowering medications for your dog. Additionally, if your dog has diabetes, it must be carefully managed to prevent complications. Treatment for atherosclerosis is tailored to each individual patient and may vary widely.

Living and Management

While atherosclerosis is rare in dogs, it presents a significant health risk when it does occur. Long-term treatment requires a high level of dedication from you as a pet owner. This includes regular exercise for your dog, careful management of its diet with special meal preparations if necessary, adherence to a weight loss program if your dog is overweight, timely administration of medication as prescribed, and regular visits to the veterinarian for follow-up appointments and progress assessments. Your commitment to these measures is essential for the well-being of your pet.

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