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Learn about preventing and treating heart disease in your cat or dog here.
Treating heart disease quickly is essential, to avoid heart failure in your pet. Your veterinarian may recommend you see an animal cardiologist if they aren't a specialist themselves.
There are several different forms of heart disease, which can affect the heart in different ways. Testing is important for early detection and identification of the form of the disease, so treatment can have the best chance.
Patent ductus arteriosis and persistent right aortic arch are two forms of the disease that are usually seen in young animals, and can be surgically corrected at a young age.
Medications for the Treatment of Heart Disease
There are several medications and combinations of medications that may be prescribed to help your dog or cat fight heart disease. The type of medication depends on the progress, symptoms, and type of heart disease.
Diuretics are usually the first medication prescribed for heart disease, because they aid in the removal of fluid in the lungs. This should in turn cure any coughing and help reduce swelling of the belly. Two common diuretics are furosemide and spironolactone, which can be used together for more intense results. Dogs and cats are more likely to have increased urination and thirst while taking diuretics.
ACE Inhibitors are vasodilators, which widen the diameter of blood vessels, effectively reducing the amount of work for the heart. Commonly prescribed ACE inhibitors are Enalapril and Lisinopril. Side effects of ACE inhibitors may include anorexia or vomiting, which indicate the dose may need adjustment.
Anti-arrhythmics stimulate the coordination of the heart contractions, keeping the heartbeats regular.
Inodilators, such as Pimobendan (Vetmedin), also widen the blood vessels to give the heart a bit of relief, while also increasing strength in the heart's muscle fibers.
Positive Inotropes tend to be prescribed if all the other options have failed because the side effects can be severe if the dosage is off by a small margin. Digoxin is a popular choice.
Supplements, Diet, and Exercise as Part of Treatment for Heart Disease
Besides medications, your veterinarian may recommend dietary supplements or modifications for your pet.
Coenzyme Q has been shown to help prevent or delay heart disease, and can slow the disease's progress. Coenzyme Q can be given to dogs and cats that are genetically prone to heart disease, as well as acquired heart disease patients.
Low Sodium Diets are often recommended by veterinarians, based on the efficacy a low sodium diet has proven to have on humans with heart disease.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are found at high levels in fish, and in fish oil supplements, and can help reduce the risk of heart failure.
Taurine and L-carnitine are amino acids necessary for cats and dogs to maintain good cardiac health. If the animal becomes deficient in these amino acids, they become at greater risk for heart disease.
Exercise and helping your dog or cat maintain a healthy weight will help their heart stay strong and efficient. In fact, exercise can help prevent a number of problems and can help keep your dog or cat living a happier, longer life.
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.