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, fluids accumulates in the lungs, or less commonly fluid can accumulation in the abdomen. Animals suffering from congestive heart failure often experience difficulty breathing and frequent coughing. Some causes of heart failure include: congenital heart disease (animals born with a heart problem), valvular heart disease (abnormalities of the valves of the heart), heartworm disease, and arrythmias (rhythm disturbances).
Many heart problems can be identified on physical examination. Additional tests are usually required to accurately identify the cause of the heart disease. Additional tests include EKGs (electrocardiograms), radiographs (X-rays), bloodwork and ultrasounds. There is a possibility that we may recommend a visit with a cardiologist. They are best equipped to deal with the more difficult cases.
Heart disease is a serious life threatening condition but early diagnosis and appropriate therapy can improve and extend your pet’s life.