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Heart Disease in Dogs and Cats

How and Why Heart Disease Develops

By Robyn Johnson. October 11, 2012 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

    DVM

Heart Disease in Dogs and Cats

Heart disease in dogs and cats can develop for multiple reasons, and show in different symptoms. Here's what you should know about heart disease in pets.

Heart disease is a serious ailment that can radically change the life of your dog or cat, and even result in heart failure. You'll want to know what the warning signs are, and how to take care of your pet's heart. Here’s what you need to know about identifying and treating heart disease.

Heart Disease Causes

Some dogs and cats have a genetic predisposition to heart disease, which can be passed down from your pet’s mother or father. Even when that’s not the case, a heart murmur or a weak heart valve could indicate to a veterinarian that a pet has heart disease. Sometimes, an amino acid deficiency is to blame. When any of these conditions occur, the stress on the heart causes it to become enlarged and inefficient, which can result in heart failure.

Heart Disease Symptoms in Dogs and Cats

When performing a physical exam on a cat or dog who potentially suffers from heart disease, a veterinarian looks for physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, coughing, and fluid in the lungs or abdomen. Other symptoms are lethargy, weight loss, depression, general weakness, decreased appetite, swelling and bloating, bluish gums, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation.

Since this is a complicated subject, there are animal cardiologists who work solely on heart disease. Your veterinarian may recommend one to you if they aren't a specialist themselves. There are many medications designed to help your dog or cat fight heart disease. Often more than one is prescribed, and the type of medication depends on the type of heart disease. Some heart disease medications for dogs and cats are diuretics, ACE inhibitors, pimobendan (aka Vetmedin), and digoxin. Some supplements are also used to treat heart disease, such as coenzyme Q, taurine, and L-carnitine.

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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