Perhaps for a while now, you've noticed that your usually alert and playful pet seems listless. They don't play for very long or maybe not at all. They are easily out of breath and have difficulty breathing. Maybe they've even started coughing! At night, instead of sleeping soundly, they seem agitated. You're seeing visible signs of distress. Your pet is not doing well.
In this case, you should consult our veterinarians. The first step is a check up, listening to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope. This will allow your vet to check breathing and heart rate. If there's any sort of arrhythmia, your vet will hear it. Next, the vet will take your pet's pulse. If there's an abnormal accumulation of fluids in the abdomen, your vet will be able to determine that as well.
Visiting your vet with your cat or dog will let you know exactly how well your pet is doing, health wise. Should a heart problem be diagnosed, take comfort in knowing that most cardiac problems can be controlled with medications.
In rare cases, it might be necessary to consult with a veterinarian specializing in cardiology. We have a mobile cardiologist we are in contact with that can come to the clinic to give your pet a full cardio work-up. Even though your pet is already in good hands, more in-depth expertise is available should they need it..
Although heart problems are found more often in older pets, these conditions can affect pets at any age. Heart disease is usually a life-threatening condition, but early diagnosis and appropriate therapy can extend your pet's life.
Heart disease can lead to congestive heart failure (CHF), which occurs when the heart can no longer pump blood effectively. If an animal is suffering from CHF, fluid usually accumulates in and around the lungs and sometimes in the abdomen. Congenital heart disease (animals born with a heart problem), valvular heart disease (abnormalities of the heart valves), arrhythmias (rhythm disturbances), and heartworm disease can all lead to CHF.
Call us if your pet starts breathing rapidly or coughing, loses his or her appetite, tires easily, seems weak, or has trouble exercising. We can discover many heart problems during a physical exam, which is one of the reasons why annual check ups are very important to catch heart disease early. Additional tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG), radiographs (x-rays), and ultrasounds, are usually needed to accurately identify the cause of the heart disease or failure.