What you need to know about your pet’s heart-health
February is American Heart Month and it’s a great time to learn about taking care of your furry friend’s heart-health.
Dr. Victry Fredley, OHS veterinarian, shares what you need to know about pet heart-health.
Can heart disease affect pets?
Yes, pets can have heart disease! Some dogs and cats can have ‘congenital’ heart conditions meaning they are born with them, but most heart disease is seen in older animals. There are some breed predilections for specific kinds of heart disease, so doing research on the breed of dog or cat you have can be helpful for determining the types of heart disease they may end up showing. Certain larger dog breeds are more likely to get heart diseases that affect the chambers of the heart, while certain smaller dog breeds are more likely to get disease that affects the valves of the heart. However, any dog can get any type of heart disease. Cats are prone to getting heart disease that affects the left ventricle of the heart. Your veterinarian can help you determine if your pet has heart disease by first performing a physical exam and listening for a heart murmur, and/or performing x-rays. Your veterinarian may also recommend a procedure called an echocardiogram to look at the inner structures of the heart. Some heart conditions can be medically managed, others require surgical intervention.
Can pets have high blood pressure or hypertension?
Yes, pets can have high blood pressure, and it can be caused by things like diabetes, diet and obesity. Eye abnormalities such as retinal detachments can occur as a result of hypertension. If you notice that your pet suddenly loses vision in one or both eyes, take your pet to a veterinarian for an exam, as this could indicate hypertension.
What other kinds of issues can affect your pet’s heart health?
Make sure that your pets are on a balanced diet, as some heart diseases can be caused by an imbalance of nutrients.
What can pet owners do to keep their pet’s heart healthy?
Keeping your pet at a healthy weight, making sure they get exercise, and having regular veterinary visits are important for keeping your pet’s heart as healthy as possible! Always remember to note if your animal seems more lethargic than normal, is having trouble breathing, has a cough that does not go away, or has exercise intolerance, as these can all be signs of heart disease.