We all know that having a healthy heart is important to leading a longer life - the same is also true for our pets. Here are some tips from our vets to help ensure your pet’s heart never misses a beat.
Some heart problems are unavoidable; they may be genetic or present from birth. But others are caused or made worse by your pet's lifestyle – much the same as in people.
Prevention is better than cure, and by making a few small tweaks to your pet’s routine today, you could help to keep their heart healthy in the future.
Symptoms of heart problems
Signs that your pet might have heart disease include:
- Stopping/slowing down while out on walks
- Laboured breathing or breathlessness
- Restlessness at night
- Coughing, especially during or after exercise or excitement
- A bloated stomach (caused by fluid build-up in the abdomen)
How your pet's weight affects their heart health
Carrying extra weight can cause a significant strain on your pet's heart. Sadly, around a third of dogs and a quarter of cats in the UK are overweight or obese. Keeping your pet at a healthy weight by feeding them a balanced diet and giving them regular exercise is the best way to keep their heart as healthy as possible.
Many vet practices now run free weight clinics for pets. It’s never too late to make a change and simple changes can make a big difference. You can help your pet shift the pounds by cutting out treats and encouraging them to be more active.
Caring for a pet with heart problems
Sometimes, even with the best of care, pets can develop heart problems. Diagnosing these problems early can make a big difference for your pet's long-term health. Regular check-ups at the vets are the best way to pick up problems early – once a year is ideal, alongside your pet’s annual vaccination. If your pet hasn’t been to the vet within the last year, make an appointment for a general health check.
Sadly, Heart disease can’t be cured. However, it can often be managed so your pet can continue to have a good quality of life.