Common Heart Diseases in Pets

Heart diseases is extremely common in humans of the United States these days, but did you know that our cats and dogs can have heart problems as well?  Check out these common heart problems seen in our pets!

In Cats:

Congenital heart defects are very uncommon in cats.  Most cats with heart disease have something called cardiomyopathy.  Cardiomyopathy is when there is an abnormal structure of one of the chambers inside the heart that pumps blood.  There are four chambers of the heart, but a defect in one section can dramatically affect the heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently.  It is typically only observed in adult cats, but kittens on occasion will be diagnosed.  Two of the majors symptoms of cardiomyopathy in your cat include having trouble breathing and struggling to walk (particularly with their hind legs).

It is also common for young kittens may also have heart murmurs that disappear prior to adulthood.  If your veterinarian detects a heart murmur at a young age in your kitten, be sure to have them check again at all of your kitten’s appointments to see if it goes away.

For more information, check out our source!

In Dogs:

Over 90% of heart problems in our canine companions are acquired, rather than congenital.  They are often results of injury, infection, or aging.  Here are four types of heart disease that are commonly seen in middle-aged to elderly dogs.

  1. Chronic valvular disease: As your pet ages, stress on the heart causes it to weaken and the valves of the heart begin to leak blood, causing the heart to lose efficiency in pumping blood through the body.
  2. Arrhythmias: Arrhythmias, simply put, are irregular heart beats.  Your pet’s neurons use electrical signals to tell the heart when to beat.  Arrhythmias in your dog are a result of a damage to or an imbalance of those electrical signals.
  3. Myocardial disease: This occurs when your dog’s heart swells up as a result of the heart muscles weakening.
  4. Pericardial disease: The pericardium is a protective sac that surrounds the heart.  As a result of infection, trauma, or other illnesses, sometimes the pericardium will fill with fluid.  This fluid buildup puts pressure on the heart, preventing it from beating normally.

The most common symptom of canine heart disease is a persistent cough [even if it is only after exercising].  If you notice your dog coughing for more than 3 days, it absolutely time to call your veterinarian.  Other symptoms also include fatigue, weight loss, and swelling of the abdomen.

For more information, check out this source!

For Both Cats and Dogs:

A dangerous, potentially fatal, disease can infect both cats and dogs and wreak havoc on their hearts.  Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitos to our four-legged friends and this parasite is capable of traveling through the bloodstream to get to the heart, where it grows and [if female] reproduces inside your pet’s heart!.  We found 2 videos to help explain the deadly parasite’s life cycle, treatment (or lack there of), and prevention.

For dogs:

For cats:

As both of these videos state, year-round heartworm prevention is the best option available to protect your pet from heartworm for your pets.  Monthly prevention medicines may seem expensive, but the protection is worth beyond its weight in gold.

For even more information on heartworm disease, check out this article by the American Heartworm Society.

Emerald Animal Hospital offers a variety of heartworm preventions for both cats as well as diagnostic testing available in order to determine heart health.  We want every pet to live a long and healthy life, since they so greatly warm our own hearts.  Give us a call at 216-749-7161 to set up an appointment so we can meet you and your pet, as well as discuss any of your questions and concerns with heart disease!

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