Canine Heart Disease
Heart, disease, check up, senior, blood test, cardiomyopathy, valvular, diet, medication, cardiologist, pacemaker
Canine Heart Disease
It has often been said that our dogs are "all heart" and fortunately most of these hearts are working beautifully, but we do occasionally examine patients whose hearts are not quite working up to par. In fact, according to the American veterinary medical association, about 1 in 10 dogs nationally, or about 4.2 million dogs have some form of heart disease. This disease can be a heart valve disease which we see more commonly in the smaller breeds, or be a heart muscle disease, called cardiomyopathy, which we see more commonly in the large and giant breeds.
Some of these diseases are inherited, and can be detected very early on, while others develop later on in life, and can sometimes be difficult to detect. That is why it is very important to examine the heart very thoroughly as part of all routine exams-especially for middle aged and older pets. With valve diseases, we will often hear a murmur as the first sign of a problem. With the heart muscle diseases, or cardiomyopathies, the earliest signs might only be detected via radiographs, an ECG, or on an echocardiogram, which is a special heart ultrasound study. There are some new blood tests for heart disease on the horizon which may soon change the way we diagnose these problems. Because heart disease can occur later in life, routine monitoring is always important, and a clean bill of health last year doesn't guarantee the same this year!
Since both valvular heart disease and cardiomyopathy can lead to heart failure, early detection and treatment is essential to help slow the progression of the disease. Treatments vary based on the severity of the disease and the patient's overall health, so a thorough physical exam, complete with blood and urine analysis, is always recommended prior to treatment. When caught early, before the onset of noticeable clinical signs, treatment may simply involve a special diet with or without one or two daily oral medications, and, of course, frequent follow-ups. As the heart disease progresses, other medications may be indicated, and in cases of advanced disease, a referral to a veterinary cardiologist-an animal heart specialist-may be in order.
The good news is that there have been many advancements made in the treatment of canine heart disease-there are even dogs walking around today with pacemakers! When diagnosed early, heart disease is much more treatable, which allows this important member of your family to enjoy the longest, best quality of life possible.
Daily Pet News
Pet Disaster Plan
Movement to End Pet Euthanasia
Act to Lower Pet Homelessness
Legislation to Protect Your Pets
Dangers of Ticks
Cats Need Attention Too
Lameness Detection in Horses
Truth About Heartworm Disease
Rabies in Your Region
Protect Your Pets from Ticks and Fleas