Sometimes it can be hard as an owner to recognize the signs of heart disease in our pets, and this blog is to highlight heart issues in our pets and how we at Cypress View Vet can help you help your pet manage heart disease to live a longer, healthier life!
Common signs of Heart Disease or CHF (Congestive Heart Failure)
- Coughing that persists for more than a week or so, usually when the pet is lying down. You will notice the coughing more at night. Coughing can also persist when the pet gets very excited.
- Restlessness at night – usually coincides with coughing at night
- Shortness of breath/ rapid breathing/ difficulty breathing – the tongue may turn a purple color
- Behavioral changes such as tiring more easily during light exercise, sleeping more/ not as active, being withdrawn from the family
- Swelling of the abdomen or a build-up of fluid on the legs. This is called Edema.
- Collapsing or fainting when excited or during exercise (This is an emergency and must be seen by a Vet immediately)
- In cats: open mouth breathing and/or unable to use back legs (Also an Emergency)
Early onset heart disease can be difficult for you at home to notice with your pet, there may be subtle signs of the ones mentioned above but not as obvious. Sometimes, your pet is born with a congenital defect of the heart, which is usually what is seen with cats.
Yearly physical exams by your Veterinarian (even if your pet seems healthy) are crucial to “catching things early”. Although we cannot prevent heart disease from happening, if your Veterinarian can diagnose and provide supportive care, we can reduce the clinical signs and help your pet live a longer and more comfortable life. If left untreated or undiagnosed, the symptoms of heart disease can be very uncomfortable for a pet, and can lead to a decreased life expectancy.
When you book a general health check with a Veterinarian at Cypress View Vet, listening to the heart of your pet is one of the most important aspects of the physical exam. Not only is your Veterinarian listening to how fast the heart is beating, but also listening for any abnormal sounds such as a heart murmur, and listening to how the lungs are sounding. If something seems abnormal or uncertain when listening to the heart and lungs along with any abnormal symptoms you have noticed with your pet, your Veterinarian will then make a plan to further diagnose heart disease.
At Cypress View Vet, our Veterinarians have number of tools to help them diagnose heart disease in your pet such as:
- Digital Thoracic X-ray – This is an x-ray image of the heart and lungs of your pet which shows up on a computer screen almost instantly for your Veterinarian to examine. Our team of Registered Veterinary Technologists gently handle your pet to get the proper images with the least amount of radiation to your pet. The image can then be shown to you on one of the computer screens in our exam rooms.
- Blood Work – A test called Cardiopet ProBNP is a test that your Veterinarian may request that involves taking a small amount of blood from your pet that we can do in clinic. The blood is then sent to the Idexx Lab in Calgary as it is a specialized test. Your Veterinarian can usually get results back within 1-2 days.
- This Cardiopet blood test will measure substances that the heart muscle releases when it is being stretched/stressed abnormally and having a hard time pumping blood. This measurement will help your Veterinarian determine the severity of the heart disease.
- General Blood and Urine work up – Your Veterinarian may ask along with the Cardiopet blood work to do a full blood and urine check up. This will further help your veterinarian determine if there is an underlying disease or condition that could be affecting the heart, or if other organs are compromised as well. At Cypress View Vet, we have a fully equipped laboratory to analyze the blood and urine, and get results usually within the hour.
Hearing from your Veterinarian that your pet has heart disease can be scary, but our team is here for you to help your pet. Although heart disease cannot be cured, it can be managed (Through supportive therapy such as medication, weight control, and prescription diets) to lessen your pet’s symptoms and to help them be more comfortable.
If you ever notice your pet having any of the symptoms above, or if your pet has not had a full physical exam for over a year, our Team at Cypress View Vet is always here for you to help your pet live a long and healthy life!