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【VMC Vet Tips - 5 common signs of heart disease and treatment】

Although heart disease can be serious, there are many treatment options available to help our pets. We as ‘pet parents’ do need to stay alert for the common signs of heart disease in dogs and cats and bring them for medical checkup promptly when necessary. Early signs of heart disease in cats are easy to miss as they are either non-existent, or so subtle and non-specific that they are rarely noticed by owners.

1. Cough (Typically dogs only) –

Dogs with heart disease may have a cough that lasts for at least a few days. It may be caused by accumulating fluid in the lungs as the heart is not pumping efficiently. Heart disease may also lead to heart enlargement which in turn causes pressure on the airways of the lung leading to a cough. Unlike dogs, cats with heart disease typically do not have this symptom. If your cat is coughing often, this could indicate another health issue, such as asthma or allergies.

2. Fainting or collapse –

When heart function decreases, vital organs such as the brain can become deprived of nutrients, especially oxygen. Blood flow to the brain can be compromised in dogs with heart disease, leading to fainting (syncope) or collapse.

3. Difficulty breathing –

Dogs with heart disease may also have difficulty breathing (known as dyspnea). A dog may breathe more rapidly, or with more effort, including contraction of the abdominal wall muscles. Dogs with severe heart disease have more trouble breathing when lying down and will often sit or stand for long periods of time. Similarly, cats may also exhibit dyspnea. As with dogs, they may breathe more rapidly or show abdominal effort. They may also be seen to breathe with their mouths open, which is not typical in a healthy cat.

4. Fatigue and inability to exercise –

Dogs with heart disease may get tired quickly when they go for walks. They may sleep or rest more than usual. These signs can be harder to see in cats, but you may notice them being less playful than usual, and more prone to sleeping longer.

5. Non specific signs –

There are many non specific signs which may be seen in dogs with heart disease These include poor appetite, isolation, and refusal to play or engage in activities that they used to enjoy. For cats, they may start to go off their food and lose weight


Related medical treatments are wide-ranging and broad. Heart disease can be treated or managed through prescription medicines and supplements, dietary adjustments, and even surgical intervention depending on the condition and level of severity. As always, your first step should be to schedule a visit with your vet for accurate diagnosis and treatment. With the right treatments, care, and monitoring, your pets can live a long and comfortable life.



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