As in people, the heart is one of the most important organs in the body of pets, since it is responsible for pumping blood throughout the body and maintaining energy in the body’s cells. When the animal is tired, irritable, coughing or has difficulty breathing, they can be signs of heart failure.
Heart disease in dogs and cats is usually more common than we think; Therefore, it is essential to keep your heart health under control in order to avoid serious problems that may affect your well-being.
In the following article, we will learn to detect the signals that can help us identify heart problems in dogs and cats.
Common heart problems in dogs
According to recent studies, most cases of heart disease that occur in pets worldwide are usually acquired, while only a small percentage are congenital or inherited pathologies. These problems usually occur in animals in adulthood.
There are many reasons that may represent a risk of suffering from these diseases for these animals; However, specialists believe that poor diet and the intake of processed food are key factors that increase the chances of suffering from these pathologies.
Unlike what happens with humans, blockage of the arteries is not a very common condition among dogs; However, there are other heart diseases that usually occur in these animals:
Valvular disease is among the most common cardiac disorders in dogs; Over the years, the heart valves usually weaken and begin to filter the blood when the pumping occurs.
On the other hand, myocarditis is another very common heart disease among dogs and is an inflammation of the heart caused by a bacterial infection; This pathology weakens and enlarges the muscle of the organ.
Another parasitic disease that affects dogs’ hearts is canine dirofilariosis or heartworm. This pathology usually occurs in humid areas where carrier mosquitoes abound.
Dogs also usually present with pericarditis or pericardial disease, which is an inflammation of the pericardium, or arrhythmia problems, which is the manifestation of an irregular heart rhythm.
Common heart problems in cats
Heart disease in cats occurs less frequently than in dogs. Nearly 10% of cats worldwide suffer from cardiac pathologies and, far from what is thought, these problems can occur at any age of the pet.
Although cardiac problems in cats occur very similarly to those in dogs, there are some marked differences.
For example, in cats the symptoms are not usually manifested in the same way which makes proper diagnosis difficult. Therefore, it is essential to remain alert to identify the disease in time.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the heart disease that occurs most frequently in cats. In fact, it represents almost 80% of cardiac pathologies in felines.
In this disease, the walls and cardiac ventricles become very thick or hypertrophied, which produces a growth of the heart muscle. The severity of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy will depend on how thick the muscular wall is.
Feline CMH can be an inherited disease, with a strong genetic predisposition in the Maine Coon and Ragdoll races.
Other diseases can also cause thickening of the left ventricular wall in cats, such as aortic stenosis, hyperthyroidism and systemic hypertension.
Signs of heart disease in dogs and cats
One of the most representative signs of this type of pathologies is the persistent cough that canines present and that usually gets worse at night or at times when the animal tries to rest. This distinctive sign manifests itself in dogs since cats with heart problems do not cough.
Pets that have heart problems usually have serious breathing difficulties. The normal rate of respiration is below 32 breaths per minute; If the animal is above this series or makes a lot of effort while breathing, it may be presenting a picture of heart disease.
In addition to loss of appetite, animals that suffer from heart disease often experience alterations in their weight, whether they increase or decrease it. When weight gain occurs it may be due to the accumulation of fluids in your abdomen.
Another sign of heart disease in pets is excessive fatigue that makes them reluctant to exercise. You will notice that they are reluctant to play or run, are exhausted to the minimum effort or are very easily agitated.
In the most severe cases of heart disease, animals may collapse or lose consciousness. This is an unequivocal sign of an emergency, so you should take your pet immediately to the specialist.
The appearance of one or more of these symptoms may trigger the alarm signal since it is likely that the pet is suffering from heart disease. It is advisable to take the animal as soon as possible to the veterinarian so that he can rule out other pathologies and determine what to do to relieve the symptoms and solve the problem.
Remember that it is necessary to provide the pet with a balanced diet and maintain it with a healthy body weight, this will help reduce the risk of heart problems.
Early detection of any heart disease is essential to safeguard the animal’s health; A quick diagnosis can help relieve the condition of the pet and improve its quality of life.