Although heart problems are found more often in older pets, these conditions can affect pets at any age. Just like in people, puppies and kittens can be born with congenital heart disease. Any age dog or cat can develop heart failure secondary to heartworms. Some cardiac conditions are not easily detected by the pet owner, so regular physical exams including auscultation of the heart are important to protect your pet’s health.
We can discover many heart problems during a physical exam and through auscultation of the heart. Additional tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG), radiographs (x-rays), and ultrasound examinations, are usually needed to accurately identify the cause of the heart disease and to determine the appropriate therapy. Heart disease can be a life-threatening condition, but early diagnosis and appropriate therapy can extend your pet’s life.
Heart disease can lead to congestive heart failure (CHF), which occurs when the heart can no longer pump blood effectively. If an animal is suffering from CHF, fluid usually accumulates in and around the lungs and sometimes in the abdomen. Congenital heart disease (animals born with a heart problem), valvular heart disease (abnormalities of the heart valves), arrhythmias (rhythm disturbances), and heartworm disease can all lead to CHF. Call us if your pet starts breathing rapidly or coughing, loses his or her appetite, tires easily, seems weak, or has trouble exercising as these can be symptoms of CHF.