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What are the most common heart diseases in pets?

What are the most common heart diseases in pets?

Your pet's heart is responsible for pumping oxygen-rich blood through their bodies. Issues with this vital organ can lead to problems that affect your pet's entire body. In today's post, our Lincoln Park vets discuss a few of the most common heart conditions seen in pets.

DMVD - Degenerative Mitral Valvular Degeneration

Just like a human heart, your pet's heart has two chambers with valves on either side that pump blood to and from the heart. As your pet ages, these heart valves will begin to deteriorate and may get to the point where they no longer close completely. When this happens their blood will fail to flow in the direction that it is meant to. 

Degenerative mitral valve disease (DMVD) is the type of valvular degeneration that is most commonly known to affect dogs.

Just like a human heart, your pet's heart has two chambers with valves on either side that pump blood to and from the heart. As your pet ages, these heart valves will begin to deteriorate and may get to the point where they no longer close completely. When this happens their blood will fail to flow in the direction that it is meant to. 

When a dog suffers from DMVD it is more likely that they are an older dog. With DMVD the mitral valve that separates the left atria from the left ventricle will become thick and weak, allowing some blood to flow backward through the valve with each heartbeat. The name for this backward flow of blood is called mitral valve regurgitation. As your dog ages, this condition will progress and valve regurgitation will increase. One of the unfortunate outcomes of this increased valve regurgitation is that progressive heart enlargement can occur, at this point your dog may be at increased risk of developing congestive heart failure (CHF). DMVD is not only more common in older dogs but also in smaller breeds of dogs. While this is a condition that will affect most dogs, there is a small percentage of the dog population that will be affected more severely and require long-term management. Your vets in Lincoln Park may diagnose this disease if they detect any left-side heart murmurs during a routine check-up.

DCM - Dilated cardiomyopathy

This family of diseases seen in dogs causes a weakening of the heart muscle which in turn leads to reduced blood flow out of the heart with each heartbeat. Over time this can cause the walls of the heart to stretch which in turn causes the chambers of the heart to dilate, or become larger when this happens then your dog will be at risk of developing CHF. While DCM can affect all breeds of dogs it most commonly affects large and giant breeds such as:

  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Boxers
  • Great Danes

DMC is a naturally occurring group of diseases and is progressive once it occurs. Our vets in Lincoln Park are able to provide comprehensive internal medicine diagnostics and are able to provide a symptom-free life, to manage and improve your beloved pup's life. 

HCM - Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCM is one of the most common heart diseases that affect cats. HCM is caused by the abnormal thickening of the left ventricular muscle. The thickening of this muscle then decreases the ventricle’s ability to accept blood. This will cause an increase in the pressure within the heart causing dilation of the heart, and increasing the risk of congenital heart failure developing. When this happens the blood flow slows down and increases the risk of blood clots forming especially in the back legs.

Between cats being naturally stoic and HCM commonly occurring without symptoms this condition can be particularly tricky to diagnose. Cats with HCM are often not diagnosed until blood clots have already formed making treatment more challenging. Annual pet checkups and screening can help your vet to spot the earliest signs of heart disease in your feline friend so that treatment can begin while your cat is in the early stages when it is most effective.

While HCM is not curable, with regular veterinary care (and a little extra love and attention from pet parents) it is possible for cats to live a long and happy life without developing blood clots.

Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart diseases occur due to abnormal heart development. Your vet may discover a heart murmur during your pet's routine exam which could then result in the diagnosis of congenital heart disease. Common congenital heart diseases include:

  • Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)
  • Pulmonic stenosis
  • Subaortic stenosis
  • Ventricular septal defect (VSD)

If your pet has been diagnosed with congenital heart disease your vet may recommend a minimally invasive surgery depending on the type of congenital heart disease your pet is experiencing.

Heart arrhythmias

Electrical impulses are responsible for each and every one of your heartbeats. These impulses begin at the top of the heart and work their down the heart in a coordinated way creating the heartbeat as we know it. Occasionally these impulses do not function the way they should and in these cases, an abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia may develop. Common arrhythmias in pets include:

  • Tachycardia, or an increased heart rate
  • Bradycardia, or a decreased heart rate
  • Premature ventricular contractions
  • Heart block
  • Atrial fibrillation

Your vet can detect any possible arrhythmia during your pet's routine exam. Some of the common symptoms you may notice with an arrhythmia include weakness, lethargy, exercise intolerance, or collapse.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat or dog suffering from heart disease or showing symptoms you are concerned about? Our Lincoln Park vets are here to help! Contact Dix Animal Hospital today to book an examination for your four-legged family member.

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Dix Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Lincoln Park companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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