How to get to the heart of a problem

They love us with all their heart, so let’s make sure it’s a healthy one.

“The heart is one of the most vital organs in the body so making sure your pet’s heart stays strong is essential for a long, healthy life”, says PDSA Vet Nurse, Nina Downing.

“Knowing how to keep your pet’s heart healthy, and what signs to look out for if there’s a problem is crucial for keeping your pets’ ticker as healthy as it can be.

Causes of heart problems

“Anything that stops the heart from beating properly is extremely worrying, and this issue can be caused by changes to the heart’s structure size or beating rhythm.

“Some breeds are more prone than others to developing heart problems, and some of these include Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Dobermanns and Maine Coon cats.

Heart problems are often inherited, passed down from parents to their young, even when the problem appears in later life, so when looking for a new puppy or kitten, it’s important to find out their family’s health history.

Signs and symptoms

“Noticing signs of a heart problem early on can make a huge difference to your pet’s long-term health.

Make sure to visit the vet at least once a year, as they will be able to pick up on any potential heart problems much earlier than we can at home.

“Heart disease symptoms sadly tend to worsen over time. Signs that your pet might have heart disease include stopping or slowing when exercising, shortness of breath, faster breathing than normal – even when resting – low energy levels, not being able to settle down to sleep at night, panting or breathing with an open mouth, coughing, a bloated stomach, collapsing or fainting.

“It is important that you contact your vet straight away if your pet is showing any signs of these symptoms as the sooner you contact a vet, the faster they can get the help they need.”

Reducing the possibility of heart problems

“As well as the other health problems caused by obesity, the burden of carrying extra weight can impact the heart.

If your pet is overweight or obese, their heart has to work harder to keep their body working properly, which can cause strain and possibly put your pet at risk of developing underlying heart conditions.

“If you are unsure if your pet has a weight problem, give them an at-home weight check. If they are carrying a few extra pounds, take small steps to reduce their weight.

Make sure that you’re feeding a good quality complete pet food, measure their food to ensure you aren’t over-feeding, cut back on unhealthy treats, keep them active with purposeful exercise, and ensure you weigh them regularly so you can adjust their food as needed.

“If you dread the thought of going to the gym, exercising with your pet could be ideal for you! Pets who have got used to a quiet life may need some encouragement to get going – this is when games and toys are great for awakening their interest, while allowing you to have fun and bond with your pet.

“If your pet already has a heart condition, check with your vet or vet nurse the best way to build exercise into their daily routine.

You’ll need to be careful that you don’t put too much pressure on their heart through exercise, while making sure they have enough for the heart muscle to build strength.”

 


 

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