February was American Heart Month, but just because it’s over doesn’t mean we should stop paying attention to heart health, both our own and our pets’. Pet heart disease is a sad reality for many pets, and understanding how to keep your pet’s heart healthy is a crucial component of responsible pet ownership.
Heart Disease in Pets
Heart attacks and strokes are more likely to affect humans, but pets tend to experience different types of heart problems, including:
- Congenital heart disease—Some pets are born with heart problems, and surgery may be required depending on the severity of the condition.
- Cardiomyopathy—An abnormality in the heart muscle, cardiomyopathy negatively affects the functioning of the heart.
- Valvular disease—Leaky or otherwise malfunctioning heart valves can lead to a buildup of fluid in the heart.
- Heartworm disease—Caused by a parasite that is transmitted by mosquitoes, heartworms set up shop in an infected pet’s heart and lungs, resulting in serious consequences.
Identifying Pet Heart Disease
We listen to your pet’s heart and lungs at each wellness visit, but paying close attention to your pet’s behavior at home can help you identify any problems early. As with most health concerns, early intervention is key in the successful management of pet heart disease.
Give us a call if your pet is experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Decreased stamina or exercise intolerance
- Coughing regularly or intermittently
- Difficult or rapid breathing, with or without physical exertion
- Loss of appetite
- A blue tinge to the gums or tongue
Prevention, Prevention, Prevention
Not every type of heart disease is preventable, but you can have a huge impact in this important area of your pet’s health and wellness.
- Keep your pet on a heartworm preventitive medication year-round. If you haven’t started your pet on a preventive yet, give us a call.
- Maintain a healthy weight for your pet through a high quality diet and appropriate exercise.
- Poor oral health can lead to heart disease in some cases. Keep up on your pet’s dental hygiene with regular tooth brushing and professional dental examinations and cleanings.
- Follow through with all of your pet’s regularly scheduled exams. Early intervention is important to the successful treatment of pet heart disease.