5 Facts on Heart Disease in Dogs and Cats The Top 5 Facts about Heart Disease in Pets

5 Facts on Heart Disease in Dogs and Cats
expert or vet photo
vet verified PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian DVM

The Top 5 Facts about heart disease will help you keep your pet safe, or on the road to recovery.

Understanding how to help your pet who has heart disease will ease their pain and may save their life. 

These five facts will guide you to help your pet live a longer and happier life.

1. Take Notes

Keep track of any behavioral or physical changes that you notice in your pet. Not only could your notes help your veterinarian spot signs of heart disease, but you and your vet will also have a better chance of catching any disease or illness sooner. Report changes you notice in your pet so accurate testing can begin. It's a good habit to do this at every checkup, even if your animal is healthy.

2. There are Ways to Help Prevent Heart Disease

If you fear that your dog or cat may be suffering from heart disease, or possibly suffer in the future, you can take proactive measures to help protect them. Coenzyme Q, a dietary supplement, helps to keep your dog or catโ€™s cardiac health strong. Make sure their diet is high in taurine and L-carnitine, which are two amino acids necessary to keep the heart pumping.

3. Exercise Your Right to Exercise Your Dog or Cat

A huge part of maintaining great cardiac health in your dog or cat is daily exercise. When the heart is working harder due to exercise, it grows stronger and becomes better at avoiding acquired heart disease. Congenital heart disease may not be avoidable, but exercise can still help prevent genetic heart problems from progressing quickly.

4. Some Breeds are More Likely to Get Heart Disease

Because heart disease can be caused by a genetic inclination, there are a few breeds that are more likely to suffer from it. Newfoundlands, Dobermans, Great Danes, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are more prone to heart disease.

5. Test Early and Test Again Later

The proBNP blood test is a recent discovery and has proven to be an accurate way to test for the degree of heart disease. This test can also determine respiratory disease and several other maladies. Ask your veterinarian about performing the test again as the disease progresses, to indicate the efficacy of treatment.

How to Treat Heart Disease in Pets

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 heart disease 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 tabs for dogs 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.

Indicators, 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.

Was this article helpful?
Heart Disease

You May Also Like

Image for Symptoms of Heart Disease in Dogs and Cats
Symptoms of Heart Disease in Dogs and Cats

Heart Disease Symptoms to Watch Out For

Read More