The Latest on Heart Disease in Pets

In our newsletter this month, our focus is on heart disease in pets. There have been huge advances in both diagnosis and treatment of this common disease during my career and it’s wonderful to be able to make some real changes to both improve and extend the life of cardiac patients nowadays. When I first started in practice, a diagnosis of heart disease generally came with a life expectancy of about six months. Currently, with early detection and treatment, we can extend that out to several years, in many cases – that’s fantastic!

Some of this is because of the advent of high quality of imaging – both x-ray and ultrasound – that allows us to detect cardiac problems in an early stage. It also comes down to vast improvements in the medication available to us.

Some things haven’t changed, however, and that relates to some of the contributing factors that either cause disease or complicate treatment. Two of these really stand out for me:

Dental Disease Is a Common Cause of Heart Disease

  • Plaque and tartar in the mouth provide a lovely place for bacteria to grow
  • Over time, the bacteria ‘seeds’ into the bloodstream
  • These bacteria often lodge in the heart valves – the resultant distortion of the valves disrupts the performance of the heart

Obesity Places a Huge Strain on a Diseased Heart

  • Bear in mind, the definition of obesity is more than 10% over ideal body weight
  • The heart has to work much harder to circulate blood around the extra tissues
  • In an already compromised heart, this additional load can be fatal
  • I’d estimate that at least 50% of dogs and cats we see would be classified as overweight with a large proportion of those being in that ‘obese’ category – that’s a lot of ‘at risk’ pets out there!

There’s a simple message here – make sure you’re having regular dental checkups (and proactive treatment) and don’t allow your pets to gain too much weight! Our vets will chat to you about dental health in any routine health checks. Our nursing staff also run a very effective ‘slimmers’ program and can help you keep your pets in great shape. Not only will that help prevent heart disease but pets feel much better as a result of staying slim and trim!

If you want to bring in your pet for a checkup and to find out more about heart disease, give us a call on 8522 3500 or book an appointment directly.

Dr Dave MacPhail

Dr Dave MacPhail

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