Pet hearts are very similar to human hearts; they both have four main valves: a mitral valve, tricuspid valve, pulmonic valve, and aortic valve. The mitral valve, located between the heart’s left atrium and left ventricle is a pet’s most fragile valve and is usually the first to fail. In dogs, this failure occurs slowly and causes the pet to exhibit tell-tale symptoms that could trigger a pet-owner to realize something is wrong. However, heart disease in cats progresses much more rapidly and involves failure of the entire heart, which makes a pet owner’s detection of it much less likely.
At the onset of heart disease, a pet’s circulatory system starts to fail. With that failure, the kidneys, liver, and other vital internal organs are flooded with stationary blood and cannot function properly. The organs no longer get the essential amount of oxygen they need and slowly start to die. Heart disease is a very serious medical condition that must be addressed promptly. If you notice any of the following symptoms, please contact our office at your earliest convenience.
Symptoms of heart disease in pets:
- Bloated stomach.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Rapid breathing.
- Reduced appetite.
- Weight loss.
Diagnosing a pet with heart disease
If a pet patient is suspected of having heart disease, the veterinarian will first listen to their heartbeat with a stethoscope. If a heart murmur can be heard, it signals the vet that one or more valves are not functioning correctly. The veterinarian will then perform an X-ray, checking for an enlarged heart. Additional testing may include an EKG or echocardiograph.
How is heart disease treated?
If heart disease is a pet’s official diagnosis, the treatment and prognosis vary based on pet species, breed, and the underlying causal condition. The veterinarian will formulate a treatment plan that focuses on getting the heart to pump efficiently to help your pet live comfortably. There are numerous medications that can help a pet when heart disease is caught early enough.
If you have any questions about heart disease or think your pet is demonstrating possible symptoms, please contact our office.