Does your pet have a healthy heart?

Diseases of the heart tend to be sneaky and signs often do not develop until the heart is in serious trouble. Heart disease can be caused by many things but it usually results in failure of the pumping mechanism of the heart.

Signs to look out for:
The common signs to look out for in both dogs and cats are laboured or fast breathing, an enlarged belly, weight loss or poor appetite. Dogs also tend to cough especially at night or first thing in the morning, tire more easily on walks or have weakness/wobbly episodes with exercise.

How you can help at home:
One of the easy things you can do at home is measure the Sleeping Respiratory Rate (SRR). Watch your pet’s chest when they are asleep and count the number of breaths in 15 seconds then multiply this by 4 – this gives you the SRR per minute. Repeat this for 2-3 days to get a base line variation then do once or twice a week. Most dogs and cats have a sleeping respiratory rate in the high teens or low 20’s, if your pet has a SRR greater than 30 breaths a minute (or is steady climbing up close to 30) then a veterinary check is indicated. High SRR are suggestive of heart disease but can also be caused by pneumonia, anaemia, fever and high blood pressure. If your pet has already been diagnosed with heart disease this is a simple test you should do weekly as it may indicate a change in medication or dose adjustment of medication is indicated. You can download a free App to help you monitor the SRR at www.healthyheartsfordogs.com.au

What should you do:
If you see any of these signs in your pet or if your pet has a high SRR phone us to arrange an appointment.Depending on clinical examination findings we may initially recommend chest x-rays, blood tests or a cardiac ultrasound to diagnose the condition and determine the best treatment for your pet.

The good news is there are medications available which can help your pet with all these conditions and treatment will lead them to lead a happier and healthier life.