Pet Cardiovascular Health Tips

Read these 8 Pet Cardiovascular Health Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Pet Medication tips and hundreds of other topics.

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Can I help prevent pet heart disease?

Prevent the Worst

There's no doubt that your loveable pooch holds a special place in your heart—he is, after all, a member of the family. What you have to keep in mind, however, is that just like a child, his health is in your hands. In addition to regular check-ups to monitor Spot's heart, there's a lot more that you can do to help keep him happy and healthy. Feed him a balanced diet, allow him to get regular exercise—an overweight dog is likely to be less healthy than a fit one.

Steer clear of the heartache involved with seeing the family pet become ill. Care for him properly and take him to the vet often for check-ups. In the event that he is found to suffer from a heart condition, it can be nipped in the bud early on with the proper pet heart medication. However, do all that you can to keep him healthy in the meantime.

What are symptoms of pet heart disease?

Be on the Lookout for Pet Heart Diseases

Does your dog have a heart condition? In early stages, signs of heart disease can be mild and undetectable. However, once the disease begins to progress, the symptoms will become more severe. When fluid builds up and vitals organs are not supplied with blood and oxygen, the disease will become symptomatic. Symptoms include:

• Depression and/or lack of energy
• Poor appetite
• Coughing
• Weakness
• Weight Loss
• Labored breathing
• Fainting
• Swollen abdomen (ascites)

If you notice any of these symptoms, bring Fido in to see a vet at once! It's better to be safe than sorry. If it does turn out that your dog has a heart disease there are numerous effective pet heart meds available.

What can I do about my dog's heart disease?

Upkeep is Essential with Pet Heart Disease

Your dog has been diagnosed with heart disease and put on heart medication, now what? Well, my friend, now it's up to you to keep him healthy at home. Start by putting him on a low sodium diet to minimize fluid retention and stop him from coughing and feeling discomfort. Special diets for dogs with heart disease are designed to ensure that all the dog's nutritional needs are met.

*Don't give your dog treats or scraps unless your vet okays it and, if your dog is overweight, you will likely be advised to keep him on a low-calorie diet—excess weight may put extra stress on his heart and lungs.

What are the symptoms of DCM?

Know the Symptoms

Initially you may not even realize that you pet is suffering from DCM—the early symptoms tend to be very mild or even nonexistent. As the condition worsens, however, symptoms will emerge. And, in DCM, the condition will progress very rapidly. Signs include:

• Poor appetite
• Swollen abdomen (ascites)
• Depression and/or lack of energy
• Coughing
• Weight loss
• Weakness
• Labored breathing
• Fainting

If your dog suffers from DCM, heart medication is essential for survival. After your pet has been diagnosed, discuss treatment options with the vet.

Can my ferret suffer from heart disease?

Your Ferret's Heart

Just like a cat or dog, a ferret can also suffer from heart disease. As we know, there are no cures for heart disease, only pet heart meds used to treat symptoms. What can you do on your own to help keep your ferret alive? Try keeping him calm—stress can be fatal to a ferret with a heart disease. Give an ill ferret his own cage and, if possible, his own room (a bathroom or small area with a door). Let him have designated play and sleep times and limit the amount of people that you allow to fool with him.

How can you keep your ferret healthy? If you notice that your ferret is having a tantrum pick him up immediately. Additionally, keep temperatures below 80 F and try to not let it vary a lot in your home. Remove any larger, heavier toys that your ferret habitually moves and replace them with smaller ones. Invest in a shallow litter pan with a smaller ramp or lower entryways. Keep in mind that ferrets respond more to praise than punishment; scolding a ferret never does any good—especially a ferret with cardiomyopathy (it could be extremely dangerous). Let your ill ferret get away with more than usual.

Is my dog likely to develop DCM?

Does Your Dog Have DCM?

What is DCM? DCM, or Dilated Cardiomyopathy, is a canine disease of the heart muscle. Although DCM can be linked to certain nutritional deficiencies, in many cases the origin of the disease is unknown. Some theories, however, include viral infections, amino acid deficiencies, genetic factors, and exposure to chemical toxins.

Is your dog at a higher risk of developing DCM? The disease tends to most often affect older (middle-aged) male dogs. Additionally, the disease is much more common in medium to larger breeds of dogs rather than smaller ones. Certain breeds are more susceptible to DCM than others. These breeds include:

• German Shepherds
• Dobermans
• Boxers
• Cocker and Springer Spaniels
• St. Bernards
• Irish Setters
• Irish Wolfhounds

If your dog is at a higher risk, take care to have him tested regularly. There are many great pet cardiovascular medications on the market. And, the earlier the detection and treatment, the better.

Is my dog at a higher risk of getting Endocardiosis?

Is Endocardiosis Targeting Your Dog?

Endocardiosis is the most common type of heart disease found in dogs. However, is your dog at a higher risk than most? Sex may play a role as male dogs commonly suffer more than females. And, this disease typically affects small to medium size dogs rather than larger breeds. In addition, there appears to be a genetic predisposition to the growth of disease as some breeds are more susceptible than others. Is your pooch one of these breeds? Here is a list of breeds that tend to be affected more than average:

• Poodle
• Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
• Schnauzer
• Fox Terrier
• Chihuahua
• Boston Terrier

How can my vet diagnose my dog's heart disease?

Detection is Key

Regular trips to the veterinarian are essential for early detection of heart disease in dogs as well as to monitor the treatment of an affected dog. A scrupulous examination will help the vet to pick up on any signs of heart-related problems. The vet will listen to your dog's heart with a stethoscope in an attempt to detect any murmurs as well as to assess the heart rate and rhythm. By using x-rays, a vet will be able to spot fluid in the lungs as well as swelling in the heart. Electrocardiograms are capable of recording the electrical activity of the heart and can also be used to analyze rhythm problems. Finally, an ultrasound can make it possible to view the heart while it is in motion—this is the most accurate method of diagnosing heart disease.

Diagnosis is the first step in treatment and your pet's life may depend on it. Once the disease has been identified (hopefully at an early stage) the vet will be able to effectively treat it with an appropriate heart medication.

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Lynda Moultry