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Identifying Heart Disease in Dogs and Cats

11 February 2016
Australian Veterinary Association

AUSTRALIA - Just like humans, our pets can suffer from heart disease. This short guide from the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) gives advice to dog and cat owners on what signs they should look out for.

“Just like humans, pets are living longer with advances in treatments and technology. Health conditions such as congestive heart disease are being seen more often by vets,” said AVA spokesperson, Dr David Neck.

“The good news is, if congestive heart disease is caught early there are a range of treatments available that can slow down the progression of the disease so that your pet can live longer and enjoy a better quality of life.

“Owners often fail to recognise and report the signs of congestive heart disease to their vets because they commonly dismiss behaviours like slowing down as normal ageing changes.

“The condition can affect a significant proportion of older cats, and dogs of certain breeds and these behavioural changes are often signs of an underlying condition,” Dr Neck said.

The top ten signs of congestive heart disease for dog owners to look out for include:

  1. Coughing – minor coughs tend to last a few days. If after this time your dog or cat is still coughing, seek veterinary advice.
  2. Difficulty breathing – including shortness of breath, laboured or rapid breathing.
  3. Changes in behaviour – such as tiring more easily, being less playful, reluctance to exercise or accept affection, being withdrawn.
  4. Poor appetite – especially if combined with other signs on this list.
  5. Weight loss or gain – while weight loss is more common, some dogs with heart disease develop a bloated abdomen.
  6. Fainting – seek veterinary help immediately if your dog or cat collapses or faints, as it could be a sign of one of several serious illnesses, including heart disease.
  7. Weakness – while this comes with old age, if it is combined with other signs there could be something else going on.
  8. Restlessness – particularly at night.
  9. Oedema – swelling of the body tissues particularly in the abdomen and other extremities.
  10. Isolation – distancing itself from you and other pets.

The AVA recommends annual health checks for pets and twice a year checks for dogs over the age of 11 (depending on the breed).

“As in all diseases, the earlier it’s detected and you start treatment, the better the outcome. Often a vet can detect disease just by listening to the heart, well before any symptoms become evident. Your vet can discuss the best care options for your furry friend.”

For more information on REDFEB visit www.redfeb.com.au

For further information and requests for interviews contact the AVA media office on (02) 9431 5062, 0439 628 898 or media@ava.com.au.

ThePetSite News Desk



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