When people think of congestive heart failure or high blood pressure, it’s not often they think of the family dog or cat. However, heart disease can be a silent killer among pets. To protect your four-legged friend from heart-related conditions, learn more about how to make pet heart health a priority for your fuzzy true love.
Be Proactive About Pet Heart Health
While they’re subject to heart disease, cats and dogs do not necessarily experience heart attacks or strokes the way humans often do. However, this does not prevent them from having heart problems due to a number of underlying causes, including vascular disease, cardiomyopathy, congenital defections, and even heartworm disease.
In a previous blog, we addressed some of the forms of heart disease in pets, as well as symptoms to watch for in your fur friend. But having a heart for your pet’s cardiovascular health also relies on prevention and early detection.
Take the following proactive steps to keep your pet’s heart in good condition.
- Know if your pet is at greater risk. If your pet was born with congenital issues that can affect the heart, discuss your options for heart health with your veterinarian. Some conditions, like leaky valves, can lead to heart disease over time—heart murmurs can sometimes indicate this problem.
Certain breeds are also more prone to cardiovascular disease, including Great Danes, Dobermans, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and Newfoundlands.
- Maintain regular check-ups and allow for diagnostic testing. When a heart condition is suspected, your veterinarian may recommend certain tests to rule out conditions versus another issue that may present as cardiovascular in nature. It’s important to follow up with all wellness exams and blood tests (such as the proBNP test), x-ray, ultrasound, and any other suggested diagnostics, as they’re crucial for accurate diagnosis.
- Provide your pet with daily exercise and good nutrition. A high quality commercial diet coupled with daily exercise are essential components of overall health, including disease prevention. Maintaining your pet’s recommended weight is also important to keep him or her active and strong. In some cases, particularly among older pets, supplements can offer support for cardiovascular health, such as the amino acid Coenzyme Q10.
- Be aware of any changes in your pet’s health. Heart disease in pets can look a lot like respiratory challenges, such as asthma, or even simple weight gain (due to fluid retention in the abdomen). Whenever any physical or behavioral changes are observed, don’t dismiss them as allergies, asthma, or other conditions. Contact us to have your pet examined.
While we celebrate the month of love, let’s not forget our furry cupids and do all we can to keep their cardiovascular health at the heart of good pet care.
To learn more about preventing heart disease in pets, please give us a call!