Heart Disease in dogs and cats

June 28, 2019

Most of us will have a relative of a friend that is diagnosed with heart disease at some point in their lives. Did you know that our furry friends can also suffer from heart disease?

There are no scientifically proven ways to prevent heart disease in dogs and cats. The best thing you can do is identify the early symptoms. Starting treatment early, gives your pet the best chance of a happier, longer life.

Large breed dogs that are prone to heart disease include Great Danes, Dobermans and Boxers. Small breed dogs that are predisposed include Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Poodles, Pomeranians and Schnauzers. Pedigree Cat breeds that may also be predisposed include Ragdolls, Sphynx, Siamese, Burmese, Persian and Maine Coons.


What are the symptoms of heart disease?
Heart disease can be congenital (when your pet is born with the condition) or acquired (usually related to ageing).
The first symptom noticed in dogs is often lethargy e.g. decreased enthusiasm for walks, slowing down or sitting down on walks. Other signs include coughing, an increased respiratory rate or effort, a swollen belly or have an episode of dizziness or collapse.

In cats, symptoms of heart disease include hiding, loss of appetite and respiratory difficulty (very few cats cough when they have heart disease.)

Resting respiratory rate is a good way to monitor your pet. When your pet is resting, count the number of times your pet’s chest rises and falls in a minute. Anything more than 35 breaths per minute is abnormal for dogs and anything more than 50 is abnormal for cats. You should promptly book an appointment with your veterinarian if your animal has an increased resting respiratory rate.


How is heart disease diagnosed?
Your veterinarian will use a variety of diagnostic tests to determine the type and severity of your pet’s heart disease. A stethoscope and a consultation will be the first step. Depending on your pet’s symptoms, other diagnostic tools may include blood and urine tests, chest radiographs (x-rays), electrocardiogram and cardiac ultrasound. Your veterinarian may choose to refer your pet to a specialist hospital for further workup with a specialist veterinary cardiologist.

How is heart disease treated? 
Treatment and prognosis for your pet will depend on the type of heart disease present. Many pets can be managed with medication and have good outcomes for many years. 

Unfortunately, most heart diseases are incurable and progressive. Management focuses on keeping your pet as comfortable as possible for as long as possible. Frequent check-ups with your veterinarian are important to manage your pet’s medication needs. 

Book a consultation with our Albion Park Vet Hospital, or Gerringong Vet Clinic, for your much loved Pet.


Albion Park Vet Hospital 02 4256 3638

Gerringong Vet Clinic 02 4234 1317








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