Heart Disease

Heart disease is a common problem in pets of all ages, but it occurs more frequently in older dogs and cats. As in people there are many different types of heart disease:

  1. Valve problems ------ leaky or deformed heart valves prevent correct blood flow.
  2. Heart muscle disease -- weakening of the pump itself causes poor blood flow.
  3. Birth defects -------- the pet is born with a weak heart (not always life threatening).

The doctor may have suspected a heart problem in your pet based on information that you have provided or as the result of a physical examination. The veterinarian may recommend performing some simple tests to give you answers to these important questions:

    • Does my pet have a problem that will shorten his/her life?
    • What type of heart problem is it?
    • What is the prognosis - will there be a problem in the future?
    • Do I need to change my pet's exercise habits?
    • Do I need to change the type of food that I feed?
    • Can my pet safely tolerate anesthesia?
    • Does my pet need to take heart medication?


  1. Blood tests -------------- reveal function of other related internal organs.
  2. Chest x-rays --------------allow the doctor to "see" both the heart and the lungs.
  3. Electrocardiograms (EKG) ---reveal the electrical beat of the heart.
  4. Echocardiograms (ECHO, sonogram, ultrasound) --- allow us to visualize the movement of the heart and see the inside of the pumping chambers.

The symptoms of heart disease vary greatly from pet to pet and sometimes there can be a real problem and your pet seems to act normally. Intermittent chest pain, an irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath often go unnoticed by even the most conscientious pet owner.

Coughing, heavy breathing, decreased activity and a swollen stomach are the primary  signs of serious heart disease.

The most important thing to remember is that even if your pet's heart is not perfect with the help of the doctor and your awareness he/she can live a normal, active life.  We will work together to monitor the condition and try to prevent problems before they occur.


Web site designed by Ed Acton for Tri-City Pet Hospital