Heart Disease: It’s not just for people!
Did you know that pets commonly suffer from heart disease? While they are much less likely to experience stroke or heart attacks than their human counterparts, there are several common heart problems that affect our dog and cat friends:
- Congenital heart disease – Just like people, dogs and cats can be born with heart abnormalities. Ever-changing medical advancements now allow veterinarians to treat many of these problems.
- Heartworm disease – Heartworms are just what they sound like- worms that grow in the heart of dogs and cats! Thankfully these nasty mosquito-borne parasites are effectively prevented with today’s heartworm preventatives.
- Valvular disease – The heart has four valves that keep blood flowing in the right direction. Wear and tear on these valves over time can result in them being “leaky”. Bacterial buildup on the valves secondary to dental infections may also contribute to this problem. Oftentimes your veterinarian will note a heart murmur. As this disease progresses, congestive heart failure can develop. Most pets can be managed on heart medications.
- Cardiomyopathies – Problems with the actual muscle of the heart can affect the way the heart contracts and lead to heart disease. Certain breeds of dogs and cats may be more at risk for this problem.
- High blood pressure – Dogs and cats can suffer from hypertension, too! This may be secondary to other diseases or problems.
Heart disease is a major problem for pets as well as people. Many times working with a veterinary cardiologist can offer your pet help through these issues.