Monday, September 12, 2022

Heart Disease In Pets: What You Need To Know

Heart disease is very common in pets. As much as 1 in 10 dogs and 1 in 10 cats are likely to suffer from heart disease. Knowing how to detect, treat and prevent heart disease in your pet could help them to live a longer and happier life. Below are just a few questions answered regarding heart disease in pets.

What causes heart disease in pets?

Heart disease is more common in older pets and is sometimes a result of natural wear and tear. However, research shows that overweight dogs and cats are typically more likely to develop heart disease earlier. Parasites like heartworm can also lead to heart disease in dogs. 

To keep your pet’s heart healthy, it is recommended that you keep them well exercised and give them a healthy diet to stop them getting overweight. When it comes to conditions like heartworm, there are options such as preventative medication that you can look into.

What are the signs and symptoms?

It’s essential that you spot the signs early to prevent heart failure or a heart attack. These are pretty similar in both dogs and cats.

A few signs that a dog may have heart disease include:

  • Excessive panting or difficulty breathing
  • Coughing when sleeping
  • Low energy levels and unwillingness to exercise
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen belly
  • Bluish gums
  • Fainting 

A few signs that a cat may have heart disease include:

  • Fast or shallow breathing
  • Slow movement and excessive sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hind leg paralysis or ‘collapsing’

A vet will be able to diagnose whether your pet has heart disease or not - usually via an electrocardiogram, x-rays or echocardiography. A heartworm test may also be carried out.

Can heart disease be treated in pets?

Fortunately, there are lots of forms of treatment that you can explore if your pet is diagnosed with heart disease. Medication may be prescribed that can help restore a regular heartbeat or reduce fluid build-up in the lungs. In other cases, surgery may be recommended, which could include fitting a pacemaker or removing heartworm.

It is important to monitor the behavior of your dog and react quickly if you notice their condition rapidly gets worse. Make sure that you learn the signs of a heart attack or cardiac arrest. You could even look into learning how to use CPR on your pet to potentially save their life if they go into cardiac arrest - visit this site to learn more. A vet may also be able to offer support. 

What lifestyle changes may be needed?

Your dog or cat may need to make some lifestyle changes to prevent their heart disease from getting worse. A vet will usually recommend a low salt diet - there are low salt dog foods and cat foods that you can buy specifically for pets with heart disease. A low fat diet and reduced portions may also be encouraged if your cat or dog is overweight.

Reduced exercise may also be recommended. For dogs, walks may still be necessary - particularly dogs that are overweight - but you should avoid long walks or intense play. A vet should be able to recommend exactly what exercise is needed.


  1. This is good information. My sister's dog sees a heart specialist.

  2. Great information. My dog has some heart problems when he got older.

  3. Helpful information! Very much something to watch out for with older pets

  4. Thank you for this valid information. Heart disease can be so sneaky in older pets

  5. My dog was initially diagnosed with heartworms, which had me panicked, turns was a non-heartworm problem that was treatable. Wait for the test.

  6. Thank you for taking the time to educate people, including me, on such an important topic!

    - Heather B.

  7. Thank you for the information. I didn't know about this. I appreciate it.

  8. Thank you for sharing this. I had no idea about the symptoms for a cat with heart disease.

  9. Such important info here, thanks!


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