In honor of American Heart Month, we wanted to remind our readers that Heart Disease not only affects people, but our pets, too. In fact, Heart Disease is common in dogs and cats and illnesses are either acquired – due to age, infection, and normal wear and tear on the heart – or they develop them from genetic disposition.
Heart disease in dogs
The most common form of heart disease in dogs is Degenerative Valve Disease, which affects approximately 30% of all dogs. The disease occurs when heart valves don’t seal properly when pumping and the heart cannot keep up with the body’s demands.
Generally, the disease affects senior dogs over 8-years-old, with small breed dogs being the most commonly affected. Symptoms include coughing, intolerance to exercise, trouble breathing, general weakness and full collapse.
In addition, Heartworm and Parvovirus infection can also be triggers for heart disease, especially in dogs.
Heartworm is a contracted and potentially fatal disease where large worms form and attack the heart, lungs and blood vessels of the body. Parvovirus is a viral disease that attacks a dog’s white blood cells, affecting multiple organs in the body – especially their heart.
If Parvovirus and Heartworm infections are left untreated, they are usually fatal.
Heart diseases in cats
Heart disease in cats affect different areas and functions of the heart and are classified accordingly. For cats, the most common form of heart disease is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, which occurs when the thickness of your cat’s heart walls increase. Because of this, the volume of blood decreases and prevents the heart from relaxing during contractions.
While pet heart disease can’t be fully prevented, you should be proactive in maintaining your pet’s heart health by keeping their weight balanced, providing adequate exercise, and ensuring they see their veterinarian regularly for proactive blood surveillance screenings.
Proactive blood screening helps diagnose heart disease, underlying medical conditions and potential infections quickly, which allows your vet to create treatment plan options that can add years to your pet’s life!
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