A vital part of maintaining pet health is ensuring their cardiac health. When it comes to your pet’s cardiac health, preventative care, as well as early diagnosis and treatment, is absolutely essential. There are many different heart conditions, illnesses, and diseases that can be effectively protected against or even resolved if one takes the right actions at the right time. This is why, depending on your pet’s breed, age and overall health condition, your veterinarian may recommend regular cardiac health evaluations.

Assessing Pet Heart Health

In some cases, pets that are suffering from heart disease display no symptoms of their condition. More often, however, a pet that is suffering from heart disease is displaying very subtle signs of heart disease that can be missed or overlooked if not known about. Since early diagnosis and treatment are critical to the pet’s prognosis, it is important to not only bring your pet to the veterinarian for regular physical examinations and keep up with recommended preventative measures, such as heartworm medication but also keep an eye out for signs of diminished cardiac health. Some of the key signs of pet heart disease include:

  • General weakness
  • Intolerance of exercise
  • Episodes of collapse
  • Coughing
  • Rapid respiration
  • Inappropriate panting
  • Fluid distended abdomen

If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, it is important to get them to the veterinarian as soon as possible. In order to determine whether your pet is suffering from heart disease, your veterinarian will check for:

  • A heart murmur, which is not always present with heart disease but can be an indication of heart disease.
  • An abnormal heart rhythm, which includes fast, slow and irregular heart rhythms.
  • Poor tongue or gum color, which indicates a problem with blood circulation.

If signs point to heart disease, your veterinarian will design a diagnosis plan. They will recommend further testing in order to properly diagnose the problem and recommend an appropriate course of treatment.  Some of the tests they may choose from include:

  • Chest x-rays
  • An electrocardiogram–also known as an ECG
  • A Holter monitor–basically a twenty-four hour ECG
  • An echocardiogram, or heart ultrasound
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Blood pressure analysis
  • Angiography

In certain, limited situations your vet may refer your pet to a cardiology specialist in order to further aid in diagnosis and treatment. A cardiology specialist may be able to help with:

  • Evaluation of echocardiograms.
  • Evaluation of heart murmurs in pets that are otherwise healthy.
  • Heart screening evaluations for those dogs and cats that are predisposed to heart disease.
  • Pre-anesthetic work-ups.
  • Evaluation of patients with signs of heart disease.
  • Consultations for pet owners whose pets have been diagnosed with primary heart disease.

The Goal of Cardiac Health Evaluations

Most pet heart diseases cannot be conclusively resolved but can be effectively managed. Cardiac health evaluations are helpful in determining whether heart conditions exist so that treatment can be administered and the pet’s quality of life preserved. Pets that suffer from cardiac health issues that go undiagnosed and untreated for any length of time may experience considerable discomfort as a result and may not respond as well to treatment when it is finally rendered. On the other hand, where a pet that is suffering from cardiac issues receives early diagnosis and treatment, their quality of life can be maintained and even improved through diet, medication and other methods. They tend to feel better as a result and are better able to do those things that they enjoy with certain, veterinarian-mandated restrictions where necessary. With effective cardiac health evaluations, a more accurate therapy can be instituted and prognosis determined.

For more information about cardiac health evaluations or general animal health, contact AMC today.