Cardiology: Getting to the Heart
of What Matters—Your Pet
Believe it or not, animals are susceptible to heart disease. Your dog or cat’s heart is one of the most important organs in his or her body. It is responsible for supplying life-giving nutrients and oxygen to every other organ. Heart disease is any condition that disrupts normal function of the heart and vascular system to deliver oxygenated blood to the body. These conditions include cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle), arrhythmia (irregular beating), and mitral valve disease (causing heart murmurs).
Some animal companions may inherit heart disease, while others develop it later in life. The good news is that many types of heart disease are treatable, particularly if caught early. If left untreated, heart disease leads to heart failure, a condition where the heart becomes weak and inefficient.
What are the signs of heart disease?
During the early stages of heart disease, most dogs and cats show no symptoms. This is due to the ability of their bodies to adjust and compensate for the ailment. However, as the disease progresses, you may notice a rapid decline in your canine or feline’s health. Early detection is the key to successful treatment of heart disease. During your pet’s annual wellness exam, your veterinarian will check your pet’s heart rate and rhythm and listen for the presence of murmurs.
Be aware of subtle changes in your cat or dog’s behavior as he or she goes about daily activities. Symptoms of heart disease can sometimes be mistaken for natural signs of aging.
Talk to your veterinarian if your pet is exhibiting these warning signs:
- Coughing (rarely exhibited in cats), especially at night or while resting
- Difficulty breathing (shortness of breath, labored breathing, rapid or fast breathing, use of the abdominal muscles while breathing)
- Changes in behavior (tiring easily, reluctance to exercise or go for walks, less playful, slowing down, lack of energy, depressed, withdrawn)
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Swollen abdomen
- Vomiting or dry heaving (in cats)
- Thromboembolisms/blood clots (more commonly found in cats, especially in the rear legs, causing significant pain and difficulty walking)
Diagnosing Heart Disease
Early diagnosis and treatment of heart disease are essential to improve and prolong the quality of your pet’s life. An echocardiogram, or ultrasound, of the heart, is a safe, non-surgical way to evaluate the chambers and valves of the heart. Performed by a board-certified cardiology specialist, this test is a critical step in diagnosing the condition. If heart disease is detected, your veterinarian will inform you of the various treatment options available, so together you can develop a plan specific to your pet’s needs.
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Dr. Bruss is great—he is very kind and caring. He called us several times to explain our options and didn’t pressure us to make a particular decision.
My dog sees Dr. Stokes for his vet care and she is the best vet ever. She understands my dog’s unique needs and I highly recommend them!
No matter which vet we've seen, they’ve always been loving and compassionate whether we were there just for yearly vaccinations or for something a bit more serious.
I am in love with all of the staff at this facility. If I could, I would want to be treated there, but sadly, they only take the four legged types...
Wouldn’t go anywhere else! I feel surrounded by people that love animals as much as I do. Wouldn’t change a thing.
Services are very reasonably priced and we've never felt like we had any unnecessary procedures or products pushed on us. we really feel that we can trust Dr. Bruss and Odyssey Veterinary Care with our cats’ health.
— Onion Girl
Dr. stokes has seen our family through kitten to senior cat, puppy and loss of dog, new puppy and everything in the middle! We think the care our animals get here is top notch!
Great people, great care! You've all made such a difference in my life and Abby's too. Thanks Odyssey Staff!
When they prescribed my dog eye drops for an infection, they gave me the instructions and then called me within a 48 hour period to ask me how the medication was going and if I had any questions.
They are very friendly and very thorough. The dog loves them, and she’s shy, so that’s a good thing. We have always had a lot of confidence in what they have told us.
They happily accommodate our special request to see our big dogs in their fenced back yard, since our 100-pound German Shepherd gets nervous in a small examination room.
We bring our dog to Odyssey Vet Clinic and will continue to do so as long as we live in this area. They are the best vets we’ve ever had.
They are very friendly, and they always remind you of when your appointments are. They are the top veterinary hospital in Madison. They are very good.