Our pets hold a special place in our hearts, providing comfort, joy and companionship during challenging times. With Valentine’s Day this weekend, one way of protecting that very special relationship is to make sure that our pet’s heart is strong and healthy.
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “A balanced diet with purposeful daily exercise will keep your pet’s body in good condition. Regular exercise and being the correct weight means the heart won’t be put under strain, and helps it to gain strength. Annual check-ups at your local vets make sure that any heart problems are detected as early as possible.”
Signs of heart disease can include:
· Slowing or stopping on walks
· Heavy breathing or breathlessness
· Breathing a lot faster than normal, even when they’re resting
· Falling over or fainting suddenly (often while exercising or excited)
· A bloated stomach (caused by fluid build-up in the abdomen)
Nina continued: “Although most heart diseases cannot be cured, if they’re identified early on, symptoms can be reduced and life expectancy extended with vet care and medication. Many pets will continue to have a good quality of life.
“Regular check-ups from the vet are essential to keep any heart condition under control. Treatment usually involves medication, appropriate diet and exercise along with a consistent daily routine that avoids any unnecessary changes and stresses.”
Heart disease in our pets is often passed on from their parents. Some may have problems with their heart from birth while other conditions develop as they get older such as when the valves in the heart don’t work as well.
“Sadly, some dog breeds, such as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Dobermans, Boxers and Great Danes, are more prone to developing serious heart conditions. Some pedigree cats that are also at risk are; Maine Coone, Bengal and Norweigan Forest Cat. If you own or are thinking of getting a pet whose breed may be prone to heart disease, you should do your research and ask your vet about screening tests.”
Nina adds “Less commonly, animals can develop heart disease as a result of an incorrect diet. Too much or not enough of certain nutrients can cause heart problems, so eating a good quality, complete, commercial diet can prevent or even reverse heart disease due to nutritional problems.”
Even with the best care, we can’t always prevent our pets suffering from heart problems. However, an early diagnosis can increase the chances of successfully managing the condition, so annual checkups with your vet are recommended, with more frequent visits if your pet is older or has other health problems.
PDSA is the UK’s largest vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. www.pdsa.org.uk