Our pets offer us so much – companionship, love, and they even help boost our physical and mental wellbeing – so it’s important that we keep them happy and healthy. One way to do this is to make sure you’re aware of the signs of heart disease, so they can do everything possible to keep their pets’ ticker in tip-top shape.
PDSA vet, Lynne James, says: “Pets can suffer with similar illnesses to people, and their hearts are no different. While the underlying causes of heart disease in our pets is different to ours, everything we do to keep our hearts healthy applies to our pets too – so a balanced diet and regular exercise will help to keep them in good condition. It’s also advisable to have regular checkups with your vet too, to make sure any heart problems are detected as early as possible.
“Sadly, some breeds, such as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Dobermans, Boxers, Great Danes and Maine Coon cats, are more prone to developing serious heart conditions. If you own or are thinking of getting one of these breeds you should do your research and ask your vet about any screening tests that are available. Too much or not enough of certain nutrients can be a cause of some heart problems, so eating a complete, good quality, commercially available diet may prevent or even reverse heart disease, if your pet suffers from one of these specific conditions.”
Some pets with heart disease will have problems with their heart from birth, while others develop issues as they get older. In our pets, it is common for heart problems to be inherited, even if your pet’s parents didn’t show any signs of heart disease themselves.
We can’t always prevent our pets suffering from heart problems, particularly if they’ve inherited them. However, an early diagnosis can increase the chances of successfully managing the condition, so annual checkups with your vet are recommended, with more frequent visits if your pet is older or has other health problems.
Signs of heart disease can include:
- Slowing or stopping on walks
- Heavy breathing or breathlessness
- Breathing a lot faster than normal, even when they’re resting
- Falling over or fainting suddenly (often while exercising or excited)
- A bloated stomach (caused by fluid build-up in the abdomen)
Many of these symptoms can also be seen with other conditions, so your vet will need to do investigations to find out the true cause.
Lynne added: “Although most cases of heart disease cannot be cured completely, with the right vet care, symptoms can be controlled and pets can continue to feel well and have a good quality of life for many months to come. Regular check-ups from the vet are essential; treatment usually involves prescribed medication, appropriate diet and regular, steady exercise. A well organised daily routine that avoids any unnecessary changes and stresses can help too.”
PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information: www.pdsa.org.uk/appeal