Did You Know Cats, Dogs, and Even Birds Can Get Heart Disease?

Avian, By Species, By Topic, Care & Wellness, Cats, Dogs, Emergency Situations

Heart disease does not just affect human beings; it can be a problem for our animal companions as well.

Dogs and cats are prone to various types of heart disease, such as:

  • Mitral valve insufficiency — If your pet’s mitral valve isn’t closing sufficiently between the heart’s contractions, it can actually cause blood to flow backwards.
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy — If your pet’s heart has become enlarged, it could mean that the heart muscle is weak and can no longer pump blood efficiently, which can lead to heart failure.
  • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy — This rare, genetic condition causes the heart to develop harmful, fatty deposits, which can prevent the heart from pumping blood properly.
  • Plus there are many more heart conditions……

In fact, cats and dogs are just as susceptible to heart conditions as humans are.  Other pets can also develop heart disease. For instance, arteriosclerosis can also affect some birds, especially as they age. Arteriosclerosis happens when plaque forms inside the arteries, leading to thickening and stiffening of the arterial vessels.  Arteriosclerosis is also known as the “silent killer,” so regular checkups by a veterinarian is very important!

Regardless of which species of pets you own, heart disease is serious and can be life-threatening.

Signs and symptoms of heart disease includes:

  • Lethargy (lack of energy)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent cough
  • Sudden loss of consciousness
  • Vomiting
  • Pale gums
  • Exercise intolerance

Diagnosing heart disease requires a little bit of detective work. Your veterinarian will likely begin with an X-ray of your pet’s chest, to see whether its heart is enlarged, and they may also use an ultrasound to see how the heart’s valves are functioning. The heart sends out electrical pulses as it pumps, so your veterinarian might give your pet an electrocardiogram (ECG) to check for any abnormal heart rhythms. Blood tests, which show how organs are functioning, are also helpful in identifying heart disease. By piecing the results of the various tests together, your veterinarian can determine if heart disease is present and get the appropriate treatment started.

If your pet is experiencing any of the signs or symptoms listed above, call CEDARCREST Animal Clinic and schedule an appointment at 540-943-7577, as soon as possible!

CEDARCREST Animal Clinic provides medical and surgical care for every stage of your pet's life including preventive wellness care exams and vaccines, spays/neuters, and a variety of specialized care for your dog, cat, avian, or exotic. We are home to the only veterinarian practitioner in Virginia to be double Boarded in Avian and Canine/Feline care and provide care for birds, small mammals, and reptiles of all sorts! Plus, we are home to Virginia's most exclusive dog boarding resort that includes heated floors, an expansive play area, and even webcams so you can watch your pet while you're away. We're located in Fishersville, Virginia, and serve Augusta County and surrounding areas including Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg, and Charlottesville. 

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