A heart problem can affect your pet at any age, although it is more often found in older pets. Heart failure occurs when the heart no longer has the ability to pump blood around the body effectively. Heart failure can lead to congestive heart failure. If an animal is suffering from congestive heart failure, it usually accumulates fluid in the lungs, although it can result in fluid accumulation in the abdomen as well. Animals suffering from congestive heart failure often experience difficulty breathing and frequent coughing.
Many heart problems can be identified on physical examination. Our veterinarians start examining your pet’s heart from as early as 6 weeks of age. If we detect any abnormal sounds (murmurs) or abnormal rhythms, we may recommend further tests.
Heart disease is a serious, life-threatening condition, but early diagnosis and appropriate therapy can extend your pet’s life.
What causes heart failure in pets?
- Congenital heart disease (animals born with a heart problem)
- Valvular heart disease (abnormalities of the valves of the heart)
- Arrythmias (rhythm disturbances)
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
- Dilated cardiomyopathy
- Heartworm disease
What special cardiac test are available at the clinic?
EKG (electrocardiogram): detects abnormalities in the rhythm of the heart.
Radiographs: x-rays can detect changes in heart shape/size and lung abnormalities.
Ultrasound (echocardiography): detects small changes in the size, shape, and contractility of the heart.
Doppler: measures blood pressure.