Be Your Pet's Valentine- Support Their Heart Health This February
The NAVC shares tips for your pets during heart health month
ORLANDO, FL – Feb. 13, 2023 – Your dog’s heart speeds up every time you get home, ready for a game of fetch or cuddles on the couch. To keep your furry best friend active and happy for as long as possible, it is important to care for their health year-round. This month, the NAVC highlights the importance of cardiovascular health for our nonhuman family members.
Many forms of heart disease found in humans can be found in dogs and cats, but treatment can vary from human patients. Since our pets can’t communicate their pain, it is important for us, as their people, to maintain regular veterinary appointments and monitor for signs of heart disease before it affects your dog or cat’s quality of life.
“Preventative health care in dogs is important since they are unable to talk,” says expert in the world of veterinary cardiology, Dr. Brian Scansen, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Cardiology), Professor of Cardiology at Colorado State University. “Having your veterinarian listen to your dog’s heart on an annual basis is critical to detect new heart murmurs or abnormal heart rhythms that may be the first sign that heart disease is present.”
It is important for veterinary professionals to stay abreast of the current advances and breakthroughs. Dr. Scansen presented the current science and knowledge in the field of canine cardiology, including minimally invasive heart surgeries that have been transformative in the lives of patients, in January at VMX 2023. The world’s largest and most comprehensive veterinary conference, VMX enables veterinary professionals from all over the world to start their year learning the latest in veterinary medicine from renowned veterinary leaders like Dr. Scansen they can use in their practices year-round. Breakthroughs in canine cardiology enable veterinarians today to perform advanced procedures saving dogs’ lives with minimal downtime, but, Dr. Scansen warns, it is important to get ahead of cardiovascular issues before they worsen.
According to Dr. Scansen, heart disease is among the top four causes of death in dogs, with some studies suggesting it is the second most common cause. Most heart diseases in dogs develop later in life, with degeneration of the heart valves being the most common and estimated to occur in 10% of all dogs. As the valves degenerate, they leak which can lead to a backup of fluid into the lungs. Testing for heart disease in dogs typically involves listening to the heart and lungs, the use of X-rays, performing an EKG or having a cardiac ultrasound (also known as an echocardiogram).
For cats, diagnosing a heart issue can be a challenge. Heart murmurs are often early signs of issues in the heart, but in cats there are many nonpathological or noncardiovascular issues that can cause the creation of a murmur including anemia, hyperthyroidism, a fever or even being a nursing mother according to Today’s Veterinary Nurse.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy - or the thickening of the heart muscle - is the most common heart disease in cats and presents most commonly in middle-aged male cats. It may not produce a heart murmur and can cause sudden death without ever being diagnosed. Unfortunately, it cannot be cured but the symptoms can be alleviated with medications.
Typical signs of heart disease in pets are exercise intolerance, a cough, difficult or labored breathing, or collapse. If you see these signs in your dog or cat, Dr. Scansen advises you seek veterinary care for an evaluation. To get ahead of potential heart issues, pet owners can encourage healthy behaviors in their animals through weight management, a healthy diet, regular exercise and attending annual veterinary exams.
About the NAVC
The North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and advancing veterinary professionals worldwide. The world’s leading provider of veterinary continuing education, the NAVC delivers essential training, tools and resources for veterinary professionals to stay abreast of advances in animal medicine and provide the best medical care for animals everywhere. Through its commitment to innovation and excellence, the NAVC has developed a diverse portfolio of products and services, including: educational events, headlined by VMX, the world’s largest, most comprehensive continuing education conference and launchpad for new products and innovations within the veterinary industry; a robust digital platform for virtual learning and engagement; the veterinary industry’s largest and award-winning portfolio of trade publications; and an advocacy arm which unites the veterinary community and pet lovers. The NAVC was founded in 1982 and is headquartered in Orlando, FL. Since 2017, the NAVC has been recognized annually as one of the Top Workplaces by the Orlando Sentinel. To learn more about the NAVC’s products and brands, visit https://navc.com/. To see our schedule of upcoming events, visit https://navc.com/calendar/.