Heart disease prevention

Heart disease is very common in both dogs and cats, affecting about 1 in 10 pets we see.

Animals can get heart problems that are present from birth, called congenital heart disease, just in the same way that some babies can. Most heart disease we see at Vets on the Park, is acquired heart disease that develops in middle to older age.

Certain large breeds, such as Boxers, Dobermans, Great Danes, German Shepherds, Labradors and Irish Wolfhounds are more prone to a type of heart disease called Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). One of the most challenging aspects of the diagnosis of DCM is that it may remain clinically silent for many months. My own Doberman died suddenly of this condition aged just 7 years old.

To diagnose heart disease we used to have to perform heart scans, ECGs and radiographs. However, a new blood test, called CardioPet proBNP can give us an early indication if an animal may have DCM, many months before you start to see the signs. The benefit of this test is that it is minimally invasive as it only needs a single blood sample to be taken and then sent off to the laboratory. If the test comes back positive we will recommend a special heart scan and then possibly medication, even though there are currently no clinical signs. This is because recent research shows that dogs with DCM benefit from drug therapy even before clinical signs are noticed and that early medication can delay the onset of clinical signs by 63%.

Prior to your appointment, you can also download the Heart2Heart Canine RRR app to count and record the resting respiratory rate of your pet. You can then transfer it to your veterinarian or post it on social media. Download the app from iTunes here.