"I would like to thank Susan Davis for all of her knowledge and expertise in nutrition and diet. My Archie would not be here today if I hadn't found her! Through her instruction, we have corrected the heart disease problem Archie had. My vet is amazed and to me, it is no less than a miracle! Susan has taught me how to keep Archie healthy and happy in his "golden years".” The Underwood Family, Texas January 2011
Dogs and cats can have a variety of heart conditions. Common heart disease problems may include heart murmurs, congestive heart failure or poor valve function. While some breeds may be predisposed to develop congenital heart conditions, pets often develop heart disease problems with age. The heart is similar to the engine in your car and as it starts to wear out, other parts of the body will be affected as well. For example, pets with heart disease may develop kidney problems. Early diagnoses, working closely with your veterinarian and using a heart-healthy diet and supplement regimen, can help your pet live a longer and healthier life.
The heart is a mechanical pump that supplies low-oxygen blood to the lungs (for replenishment) and oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body. There are four chambers made up of muscle. These chambers have valves that keep the blood moving in the correct direction. When you bring your pet to the veterinarian, your doctor will use diagnostic tools to evaluate your pet’s heart and respiratory health. Your veterinarian will review your pet’s clinical history, observe your pet’s breathing and pulse rates and listen to your pet’s heart and lungs using a stethoscope. If a heart problem is detected, more extensive tests may be necessary such as an XRAY, blood test (CBC and cardiac biomarker called NT-proBNP). blood pressure test, ECG (electrocardiograph) and an echocardiogram.
You can help your cat or dog's heart disease by maintaining your pet’s weight at a healthy level. Many cats and dogs are overweight and this can create a significant burden for the heart. Overweight cats and dogs are at risk for not only developing heart disease, but they can also develop diabetes, cancer and mobility problems. Pets with heart disease need a high fiber diet, rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and supplementation with CoQ10 especially. Keeping your pet’s teeth clean is also essential. Bacteria in the mouth can travel to the heart via the blood. Be sure to get your pet’s teeth cleaned regularly.
Both cats and dogs are at risk of developing heart disease. However, it is often harder to detect heart problems in cats than in dogs because the symptoms may not be as noticeable until the cat’s heart disease has progressed significantly. That is why it is especially important to have your pet checked routinely and if your cat displays symptoms such as weakness, inappetance, or respiratory difficulties, bring your cat to the veterinarian promptly. Symptoms of heart disease including heart murmurs and congestive heart failure in dogs and cats can include:
- Easily tiring after exercise—loss of stamina
- Bluish discoloration of the tongue
- Accumulation of fluid in the lungs, leg or abdomen
- Difficult or heavy breathing