While our furry friends are much less likely to experience stroke or heart attacks that plague humans, there are many pet heart problems that affect dogs and cats commonly. Identifying heart problems in your pet is difficult to do on your own, but our veterinarians have the experience and knowledge needed to help ensure your pet’s heart gets the attention it deserves.
Some of the more common issues we see include:
Congenital heart disease
Congenital is just a fancy word for “present from birth.” Just like people, puppies and kittens can have developmental abnormalities in their hearts. Certain dog and cat breeds are more likely to have certain abnormalities, however any animal can suffer from them. Many of these conditions can be corrected surgically or managed with medications from your veterinarian.
Changes in the normal rhythm of the heart of your pet can have big consequences. Dogs and cats can have pacemakers installed just like people if the problem is severe enough.
Heartworm is an infectious disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes. These worms grow in the hearts and vessels of our dogs and cats, leading to heart and lung disease and even death. Heartworm disease can be cured in the dog, but the treatment is expensive and can be hard on the pet. There is no cure for the permanent changes that the worms may have caused. There is no safe treatment for cats. Thankfully we have very safe, effective preventive medications that can stop this from ever being a problem for your pet.
The heart needs valves to keep blood flowing in the right direction. The pulmonary, aortic, mitral, and tricuspid valves do the trick most of the time, but over the years these valves can become worn out and leaky. Bacterial buildup on the valves may also contribute to this problem. A common reason for this buildup is bacteria from dental disease making its home on a heart valve. When this happens, your veterinarian may note a heart murmur. As the problem progresses congestive heart failure can develop, resulting in coughing and breathing difficulty. Valvular disease is not usually curable, but it is treatable using medications.
Cardiomyopathies are problems with the muscle that the heart is made of. This can lead to alterations in the way the heart contracts. Certain breeds of dogs and cats are at more of a risk for this problem. In cats, particular cardiomyopathies can lead to blood clots, or embolisms, that can have serious consequences.
High blood pressure
Hypertension is a problem for dogs and cats as well as people. While they are probably not stressing over a project deadline at work, high blood pressure often occurs in pets secondarily to other diseases and health problems.
Your pet’s heart is important! We are happy to be able to provide comprehensive cardiac diagnostic and treatment services to help keep your four-legged friends healthy for a long time to come.