Heart disease in our pets
Most of our pets take normal heart function for granted, but unfortunately it’s a sad fact that heart disease is surprisingly common in dogs and cats.
The heart is a muscular pump that is responsible for supplying the tissues of the body with oxygenated blood. The heart receives de-oxygenated blood from the tissues of the body and pumps it to the lungs where it is re-oxygenated. This re-oxygenated blood flows back to the heart, where it is then pumped back around the body.
Heart disease which can be gradual or sudden in onset is the loss of the normal pumping action of the heart. Whilst there are many possible causes of heart disease, most problems are associated with the heart valves or the muscular walls of the heart.
In dogs, it is generally more common in older pets, although in certain breeds it can be more prevalent at an early age. In cats it is often associated with an over-active thyroid gland.
Signs of heart disease include:
- Coughing (excluding minor coughs lasting a few days)
- Laboured or rapid breathing
- Reluctance to exercise
- Fainting or collapse
If your pet is showing any of these signs, you should see your vet for a full clinical examination.
With new diagnostic techniques and novel medications the lives of pets with heart problems are being greatly improved and extended, which is great news.
Chris Devlin BVSc MRCVS is a Vet and Partner at Hillside Veterinary Centre in Corfe Mullen. w: www.hillsidevets.co.uk.