Having a healthy heart is really important and will help your pet lead a longer life. Here are some tips from our vets to help make sure your pet’s heart never misses a beat.
What causes heart problems in pets?
Sadly, some heart problems can’s be avoided. Some pets have problems with their heart from birth or might have a heart problem that’s been passed on from their parents.
Other hearts problems are caused by your pet’s lifestyle. If they don’t get much exercise or if they’re carrying some extra weight they could be at risk from heart trouble. Luckily, a few changes to your pet’s lifestyle can really lower their risk.
How your pet's weight affects their heart health
If your pet is carrying a bit of extra weight it means their heart has to work extra hard to keep their body working properly. This puts a lot of strain on their heart and can cause problems. A balanced diet and regular exercise are the best way to keep your pet’s weight in check.
Sadly, one third of dogs and a quarter of cats in the UK are overweight or obese. If you’re not sure if your pet has a weight problem, give them an at-home weight check:
It’s never too late to make a change and small steps can make a big difference to your pet’s life. Try these simple things to help your pet lose weight:
- Weight out their food to make sure you’re not giving them too much to eat.
- Cut back on unhealthy treats and don’t give them food from your plate (human food might be poisonous for them, as well as adding extra calories to their diet)
- Help them get plenty of exercise. Gradually take your dog on longer and longer walks and encourage your cat to play active games.
Signs your pet has a heart problem
Catching heart problems early can make a big difference to your pet's long-term health. Make sure your pet has regular check-ups at the vet – once a year is ideal. If your pet hasn’t been to the vet in the last year, make an appointment for a general health check.
Signs that your pet might have heart disease include:
- Stopping or slowing on walks.
- Difficulty breathing or not being able to catch their breath.
- Not settling down to sleep at night.
- Coughing, especially during or after exercise or if they’re excited.
- A bloated stomach (caused by fluid build-up).
If your pet is showing any of these symptoms, speak to your vet right away. The sooner you go to your vet, the sooner your pet can get the help they need. Heart disease can’t be cured but it can often be managed so your pet can continue to have a happy life.