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What you need to know about your pet's heart health

Posted by lhvs on December 2, 2015

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What you need to know about your pet’s heart health

Just like your heart, your pet’s heart is in charge of pumping blood to the rest of the body. The heart has a big role and a lot of responsibility. It allows the organs and muscles to function properly and keeps them healthy. It needs to be in good condition to perform its job successfully. That’s why it is so important for you to understand your pet’s heart health.

Taking your pet to the veterinarian for routine checkups is a must. The veterinarian will check for signs of possible heart disease, such as difficulty breathing, coughing, or a heart murmur.

Risks & Signs of heart disease

Some common signs of heart disease are lethargy, not wanting to exercise or play, difficulty breathing, coughing, collapsing, and fainting. Dogs are most commonly affected by mitral valve disease and dilated cardiomyopathy.

 

Mitral valve disease occurs when the mitral valve (located between the left atrium and left ventricle)thickens and becomes distortedresulting in a leaky valve. A leaky valve lets blood to flow in the wrong direction.The most commonly affected dogs breeds are Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Poodle, Schnauzers, Chihuahua, and Fox Terriers.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy occurs when the heart muscle becomes weak and the ability to push blood throughout the rest of the body becomes less effective. The most commonly affected dog breeds are Doberman Pinscher, Boxer, Great Dane, Dalmation, Irish Wolfhound and Saint Bernard.

Cats are most commonly affected by a type of heart disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. In this particular case the walls of the heart thicken and aren’t able to pump blood efficiently. This can lead to heart failure. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can occur in cats of any age but is more common in particular breeds such as American Shorthair, Maine Coon, Persian, Siamese, Ragdoll and Sphynx.

If a veterinarian suspects that your animal has heart disease, they will pay close attention to the heart. They will listen closely for abnormal heart sounds which may or may not occur. Heart disease does not always cause murmurs. Radiographs may be performed to check for abnormalities in the heart and lungs. 

Treatment

There are several treatment plans if your pet is diagnosed with heart disease. Treatment is based on the needs of each individual pet. Dietary changes, such as a low-sodium diet might be a good start for your pet. Some veterinarians recommend dietary supplements as well. Diuretics are also an option; these help clear excess fluid buildup due to poor circulation. Prescription drugs may be given to relax blood vessels, aid in blood flow and help the heart function more efficiently. With early detection, monitoring and the correct treatment plan, your pet can live a healthy and happy life. 

Take your pets in for yearly checkups! This is one of the most important ways you can care for them. Heart disease is one of many conditions that if caught early can be managed well.




 

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