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Heart Ailments: Not so uncommon in dogs
Many pet owners ask me whether dogs can have heart problems like blood pressure and heart failure? The answer is YES, and many genetic related heart problems in canines are more common than in human beings. But unfortunately many veterinary centers lack diagnostic tools to detect heart diseases. In many instances, multiple observations are required to reach a tentative diagnosis which takes much time and cooperation from owners as well as patient. If diagnosed early, many heart problems can be treated effectively.
If your vet center is well equipped and you follow the directions from your vet, many health problems can be identified early with positive results. It saves your pet’s life, time and money. But unfortunately, many heart related problems are ignored and it makes the condition worse. Left undiagnosed for a long time, the animal ultimately dies without reason. But if you think logically and critically you may help your vet to find any abnormalities in your pet. Here are few tips that can assist you find whether your pet has a heart problem or not.
• Broadly speaking, congenital heart problem can appear up to one year of age. So if you acquire a puppy but its growth is not proper or it does not thrive well according to its age with rough hair-coat and does not like to play. You must think of some kind of heart problem as a possibility.
• If you see frequent respiratory problems in your pet with or without pneumonia it may indicate some kind of heart problem. Before getting your pet on any medication, request for heart test.
• If your pets have frequent coughing always rule out any heart-related involvement. Because if your pets have heart-origin coughing many medicines are contraindicated and the wrong medicine may kill your pet.
• If your pet seems normal in the daytime but you notice coughing at night, take your pet immediately to your vet. Never assume that it is ‘common cold’ and will pass.
• If your pet is above four-years old and you have seen sign of epilepsy or infrequent fainting, it may be the starting sign of a heart problem. Never ignore it.
• If your pet tires soon after playing or its eyes become red, you must contact your vet immediately.
I have seen many dogs with hypertension (high blood pressure) at older age and they are prescribed with pressure lowering medicines and the results are excellent. But these medicines are needed for the whole life. So it is important that hypertension should be recognised earlier and its importance is enhanced if your pet is more than eight years old.
To diagnose a heart problem, your vet must perform electrocardiogram (ECG), blood pressure monitor, ophthalmic examination, x-ray, echocardiogram, myoglobin and troponin tests. More important, heart-failure is generally terminating stage of multiple heart problems. So before getting late, your pet must be checked thoroughly.