A Healthy Heart

This autumn we are turning our attention to our older pets. This year we are focusing on heart disease and especially how to recognise the signs of heart disease in our cats and dogs so that we can start treatment sooner and help our pets live longer.

Heart disease is common with 10% of dogs and cats in the UK being affected at any one time.  There are some breeds which are more commonly effected than others.

In dogs the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is the most common breed in which we see heart disease.  For cats it is the Maine Coon cat.

Signs of heart disease can often be misinterpreted to begin with – they can be vague and progress slowly or we may just think our pet is getting old.  Hopefully, after reading this you will be better equipped to recognise the signs of heart disease sooner and bring them in to see us.

The signs to look out for are:

Coughing, breathlessness, reduced energy levels, or an inability to exercise, a swollen abdomen, a poor appetite, weight loss, fainting, pale or blue gums, collapse, or hind limb weakness.

If you notice any of these signs, your pet could be suffering from undiagnosed heart disease and you should book an appointment with your vet for a health check.  At this appointment, your vet will examine your pet and listen to its heart.  They will be able to assess if the heart is beating normally and listen for any murmurs (turbulent blood flow through the heart).  The signs above can be associated with other disease processes too so your vet may advise further tests to see if there are other causes of the signs or other diseases present.  If your vet is concerned about the heart they may recommend further imaging (scans or x-rays), ECGs (an electrical rhythm recording of the heart), blood pressure measurements, and blood tests to diagnose the problem and recommend appropriate treatment.

If your cat or dog is diagnosed with heart disease we can prescribe really effective treatments which can add years to your pet’s life, but the key to successful treatment is down to you at home noticing the early signs of heart disease which others might just put down to ‘old age’.

Book in to one of our Senior Pet Nurse Clinics where your pet will be given a thorough health check by one of our qualified nurses. Please phone for an appointment on 01235 814991 or 01491 651379.