Dogs and Cats Get Heart Disease I Vetsavers Pet Hospital

Dogs and Cats Get Heart Disease

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Dogs and Cats Get Heart Disease

Dogs and cats can get heart disease just like people. Early detection of heart disease like humans, can help limit the damage to the heart and help your pet live a longer and healthier life.

What type of heart disease can my pet get?

There are many types of heart disease that your pet can get. Some are age related degeneration while some are born with it.

  1. Valvular disease – this is a very common heart disease seen frequently in older pets and some breeds. The valves in the heart become leaky and lead to heart enlargement.
  2. Myocardial disease – the heart muscles become weak and cannot pump blood efficiently which causes dilation of the heart. Alternatively, the heart muscles can become too thick and the blood cannot fill the heart properly.
  3. Heartworm disease – heartworms cause damage to the heart, lungs and arteries.
  4. Pericardial disease – the pericardium (a protective sack around the heart) fills with fluids.
  5. Arrhythmias – the heartbeat becomes irregular.
  6. Congenital disease – a variety of heart abnormalities that a pet is born with that causes decreased heart function.

What are the most common signs that my pet has heart disease?

  1. Persistent coughing – Most coughs not related to the heart will respond to treatment and will not be persistent. If the cough is progressively getting worse despite treatment, your pet may have heart disease. Your veterinarian will listen to your pet’s heart and lungs and if it sounds abnormal, your veterinarian may recommend chest X-Rays as a first step in diagnosing heart disease.
  2. Exercise intolerance – Your pet may tire easily or breaths heavy after light exercise. A pet that loves to go on runs or walks progressively loses interest.
  3. Fainting spells or collapsing – After excitement or intense physical activity, your pet may collapse. After a few minutes of rest, your pet may stand up as if nothing happened.
  4. Pericardial disease – the pericardium (a protective sack around the heart) fills with fluids.
  5. Breathing fast – When your pet is resting calmly or sleeping, they should breathe 15-30 breaths per minute. Some pets may breathe a little slower or faster at times, but this is not concerning if your pet was examined to be healthy by your veterinarian. If your pet’s resting respiration rate is consistently greater than 30 breaths per minute, please contact your veterinarian right away.
  6. Heavy breathing – When your pet is breathing at rest, they should breathe with ease just like you would. Their abdomen and chest may move up and down just slightly without much effort. If your pet is breathing hard and the chest and abdomen is moving like they just ran a mile, they are struggling to breath. Please contact your veterinarian immediately.
  7. Abdominal swelling – With advanced heart disease, your pet’s abdomen may fill with fluid and appear large and round. Pet parents may think that their pet is gaining weight and ignore this problem. If your pet is not eating well, losing muscle mass everywhere else, but has a large round belly, please contact your veterinarian.Understanding the warning signs of heart disease can save your pet’s life. Please make sure your pet is seen by your veterinarian twice a year. Bi-annual exams could easily detect early signs of heart disease. Early detection is the key to helping your pet live healthier, happier and longer lives.