Coughing, difficulty exercising, and weakness can be signs of heart disease. The veterinarians in Martensville can discover many heart problems during your cat or dog’s check-up, and can perform diagnostic tests including x-rays, ECG, blood pressure measurements, and blood testing to help decide the best treatment for your pet.
Although heart problems are more often found in older pets, these conditions can affect pets at any age. Early diagnosis of heart disease, and appropriate therapy can extend your pet’s life. If caught soon enough some forms of heart disease can be cured.
Heart disease can lead to congestive heart failure (CHF), a serious and often fatal condition, which occurs when the heart can no longer pump blood effectively. If an animal is suffering from CHF, fluid builds up in and around the lungs and sometimes in the abdomen. Congenital heart disease (animals born with a heart problem), valvular heart disease (abnormalities of the heart valves), arrhythmias (rhythm problems), and heartworm disease can all lead to CHF. Once a pet is in heart failure, they need to be on medication to control fluid build-up and usually another medication to help the heart to pump or help the blood to circulate through the body more effectively. These medications are well tolerated and generally easy to give.
Veterinarians can discover many heart problems during a physical exam, simply by listening to the heart rate and rhythm, listening to the quality and character of breathing, and looking at the colour of your pet’s gums. The vets at MVH can perform additional tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG) to assess how electricity is flowing through the heart and get a sense of heart wall thickness.
Digital radiographs (x-rays) can be done at our veterinary clinic to assess heart size, shape and position, rule out lung disease, look for fluid in the lungs or abdomen, and monitor response to therapy. We can also send these xrays to a board certified veterinary radiologist for interpretation, if needed. Our ultrasound machine can be used to look for free fluid in the abdomen, and we can also take your pet’s blood pressure to help assess circulation. Bloodwork can be done immediately at our animal clinic, or referred out for specialized testing. Bloodwork can help decide what the best medication choice is, and monitor for medication side-effects, as well as effectiveness.
Contact us if your pet starts breathing rapidly or coughing, loses his or her appetite, tires easily, seems weak, or has trouble exercising.