You can tell a lot about your pet by looking at them. But one thing you can’t see is their heart. Is it healthy or not? A pet may have developed heart disease, and even the most observant pet parent may not realize it.
Heart disease affects pets of all ages. For example, certain breeds of dogs and cats are at a higher risk of heart disease at a young age. In contrast, some pets develop heart disease later in life concurrent with another illness. Finally, there are those pets who randomly develop heart disease at any age without any noticeable signs to the pet parent.
Studies have shown that as many as one in six cats have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition that causes the heart walls to thicken, making it difficult for the heart to pump. However, symptoms don’t appear until the severe stages of this disease.
If your pet’s heart is not checked regularly, your pet may be at risk for a shortened lifespan due to heart disease. The good news is, if caught early, most illnesses can be treated or managed successfully for years. And if your pet already has moderate heart disease but is regularly monitored by your family veterinarian, often the progression can be slowed down.
During your pet’s annual the exam, your veterinarian will listen with a stethoscope to make sure your pet’s heart sounds right and there is no heart murmur and/or arrhythmia. We can also perform a few other easy tests, such as a proBNP test, to make a further diagnosis. A proBNP test can help establish a baseline of the condition of a dog or cat’s heart without the added expense of performing an echocardiogram (cardiac ultrasound)
When we think of love, we think of hearts. And we love all pets. Let your family veterinarian take care of your pet’s heart. Do your best not to skip your pet’s annual wellness visit for the sake of their heart.
Dr. Joe Martins, DVM
Belle Mead Animal Hospital