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HAVE A HEART

Posted by petemergencyclinic on September 11, 2014 at 1:35 PM


 

Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

 

As you know, our pet dogs and cats have a 4-chambered heart similar to a human's.

 

The heart is a very important pump charged with circulating blood through the body in an endless loop. The left side of the heart accepts oxygen-filled blood from the lungs and pumps it through the body to each organ. Once the red blood cells drop off a load of oxygen, they are routed through veins back to the right side of the heart. Now the right heart pumps the oxygen-less red blood cells into the lungs to pick up another load of oxygen. They proceed again to the left heart to again be pumped to the organs, and to the right heart to the lungs, etc., etc. [To you physiology buffs, sorry. I know this leaves out lots of what is also happening. But is gives the general idea]

 

So, it makes sense that the heart pump must work, and work correctly, for the animal to have a good life.

 

Humans are most often concerned with blockage to the blood vessels that provide oxygen to the heart ("heart attack"), but many other problems may occur.

 

Dogs and cats do not often get "heart attacks," but they do have other problems. Usually in small breed dogs, valves within the heart have problems and render the pump very inefficient. In large dogs, more often the actual muscle that makes up the heart has problems.

 

In some dogs, the electrical signal that controls the heart beat gets off. The ECG test evaluates this electrical signal and based on an ECG, we may know how to correct some problemst. It is interesting to note that a pet with severe heart disease may have a normal ECG, and some pets with a terrible ECG tracing show no apparent symptoms.

 

 

So what should you know to help your pet?

 

Know the signs of heart problems. These include weakness, laziness, getting tired very easily, and in some cases turning blue and or collapse. In some pets, you may feel a vibration in the chest. (This is called a "thrill.") You may find that at first, symptoms come and go. Later, they may come and tend to stay.

 

 

What to do if you see anything that concerns you about your pet's heart?

As usual, go see a veterinarian and get it checked out. The usual approach is to perform a good physical exam, an ECG, and a chest X ray. Blood testing may be done, and there is a somewhat new test called a bNP that may actually help diagnose heart disease in cases in which we are not certain.

 

Another valuable tool is ultrasound, called an ECHOcardiogram.

 

With the above information, if your pet is diagnosed with heart disease, your DVM can start the pet on medicine, diet, and exercise programs to improve things One thing to realize is that, eventually, the heart disease will likely overcome the pet.

 

So, just like with humans, moderate exercise, healthy eating, and good preventive care can help reduce the threat of heart disease.

 

If you see what you believe may be heart symptoms in your pet, see a DVM. Do not wait. During hours, your own DVM. And after hours, Pet Emergency Clinic.

 

 

As always, you CAN do something about pet illness.

 

 

That is all.

 

 

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic

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