February 2019: Vet Blog

January 25 2019

How to mend a broken heart this Valentine’s Day…

HAVE you ever heard your vet talk about a heart murmur? Does your dog get breathless after walks? Heart disease is common, but what can be done?

As you may know, certain breeds of dogs and cats are prone to heart disease. Signs that can be seen with dogs include coughing, slowing down on walks and breathlessness. Cats on the other hand (masters of disguise) tend to show very few signs – often just an increased breathing rate. Any breathing problems in cats are of huge concern to us, and need to be assessed by a vet at the earliest opportunity.

Another sign of heart disease is a heart murmur. A heart murmur is caused by a leaky valve in the heart. The murmur means that the heart is not pumping blood forward round the circulation, and a small amount of blood “backs-up”, instead of flowing round the body. This can lead to coughing, as fluid builds up in the lungs. There are several different types of heart disease, so not all animals with heart disease will have a murmur. Some young animals with a murmur will not have any heart problems until they are older. We only tend to treat animals when they start to show signs of problems. 

The good news is that in most cases heart disease is easily manageable. We use a lot of medications which were originally developed for people. So some pets can live for many years supported by heart tablets. There are several different types of tablets – and we often use a combination – as they each have a slightly different job. One type keeps the heart beating strongly – keeping blood flowing to all the major organs like the brain, kidneys and lungs. Other tablets reduce fluid build-up in the lungs, and a third type help to keep blood pressure within a normal range.

To support the use of medication, there are other easily implemented changes, that you can make at home;

Regular exercise – little and often – to keep the heart healthy

Healthy diet – with not too much salt and fat – a good quality dog food

Body weight – keeping trim and keeping body fat levels low, means less strain on the heart

Always ensure fresh water is provided

If you have any questions about heart disease, or concerns about your pet, all of the vets here are happy to discuss any issue you might have.

Our Avenue Healthcare Club gives a 10% discount off long-term medications, such as heart tablets, after 3 months!