We know all too well what big hearts our animal friends have. Sadly, though, pets suffer from heart disease just as people do. As a pet owner, it is important to have a feel for what heart disease might look like in your animals. As veterinarians, it is important for us to know the latest and greatest in treating heart disease in pets. Together, we stand a chance at fighting this problem.
Recognizing Heart Disease in Pets
While you may know heart disease as it manifests in people (heart attacks and strokes), pets often are affected by different types of heart problems. They can be born with heart problems, acquire problems with the valves, have issues with their heart muscle, or even get infected with heartworms. Pets can also have high blood pressure, much like people.
It is important to keep up on your pet’s regularly scheduled wellness visits. This is where signs of heart problems are often recognized first. Observant owners may notice symptoms as well, though.
Signs of heart disease in pets may include:
- Exercise intolerance
- Labored breathing even while at rest
- Fainting spells
- Periods where the gums are gray or blue
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen abdomen
Be sure to schedule an appointment for your pet right away if you notice any of these types of symptoms.
How We Treat Pets with Heart Problems
At this point in the history of veterinary medicine, we are better equipped than ever before to help pets with heart problems.
When we suspect that a pet may be affected by heart disease, our first goal is to properly diagnose the problem. We may do this using:
- Radiographs (x-rays)
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Cardiac ultrasound (echocardiography)
- CT scans
- EKG (a heart tracing)
- Blood pressure readings
Gathering information about your pet’s condition allows us to obtain an accurate diagnosis so that we can most effectively help your pet. Some heart disease in pets may be treated with surgery, however most cardiac issues require medical management.
When we treat a pet for heart problems, we work closely with you as the owner to manage the pet’s overall condition using different medications and supplements. It is important that the pet owner and regular family veterinarian all be very involved in the process so that we provide our pet patient with the best possible outcome.
Our hearts are our cores, and your pet’s heart health is very important. Stay on top of keeping it in tip top shape by bringing your pet to regular wellness visits, maintaining his or her dental health, and administering prescribed parasite preventative. If, however, heart disease strikes your family pet, we are here to help you.