February is American Heart Month for people AND pets. Each year, heart-related conditions such as congestive heart failure, heartworm, and heart murmurs affect our furry family members in a big way.
While many pets are at risk of heart disease based on breed, age, or size, there is hope; simple lifestyle changes can lower the risk of heart conditions in your cat or dog.
Feeding your pet a healthy diet, ensuring they get regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle to prevent obesity will help keep their heart in good health, decreasing the risk of developing certain conditions. As with most diseases, catching it earlier is better. A long and happy life is still possible if symptoms of heart disease in pets are caught early. Warning signs include a dislike of exercise or play, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, and even restlessness during sleep. Also keep an eye out for fainting and blueness of the skin and mucus membranes (cyanosis).
Unfortunately, signs aren’t always evident (in cats especially), so bringing your pets in for regularly scheduled vet visits is imperative. Be sure to have your pet examined at least once a year to allow your vet the best chance to detect problems early on and provide treatment before disease has had the opportunity to progress. Pets should be seen more often if they have an existing heart condition to monitor its progress and make necessary changes to management. Let us know right away if you pet shows any of the warning signs listed above.