If you suspect a heart disease in your pet, please contact your cardiologist as soon as possible. Regular follow ups of the disease by your cardiologist as well as observations home are important. Early-stage diagnosis and disease found, helps to start timely medication, prolongs life and improve the quality of life.
Symptoms of heart disease:
• Continuous cough (dogs)
• Tiredness and exercise intolerance
• Breathing distress
Heart disease in young animals:
A murmur can be heard at young animals at e.g. puppy inspections. It can be a case of congenital heart disease. HCM (Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) in cats is classified as an acquired disease, but often presents at an early age.
Congenital heart diseases
Pulmonary stenosis (PS)
The pulmonary valve is affected and does not open properly. Blood remains in the right heart chamber and it becomes progressively dilated. The treatment is medical and in severe cases surgical.
Sub-aortic stenosis (SAS)
The aortic valve is narrow and does not open fully. This blocks blood flow from the heart into the main artery and the circulation. In severe cases, the heart has to make bigger effort to pump the blood because of the valve obstruction and the heart muscle is getting thickened.
Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)
The ductus arteriosus is a normal part of fetal blood circulation. All babies are born with this opening between the aorta and the pulmonary artery. Usually, it closes on its own shortly after birth. If it remains open, it is called a patent ductus arteriosus. PDA leads to abnormal blood flow and causes left side enlargement of the heart and loss of function. Treatment is surgical.
Tricuspic dysplasia (TD)
The tricuspic valve is has an abnormal structure since the birth. It does not work normally and the right heart becomes progressively enlarged and loses its function. Treatment is medical.
Heart diseases of an adult or an old animal:
If You pet has a murmur found by a veterinarian, it is always important to examine it by a cardiologist. There are many reasons and etiologies for heart diseases. Usually it is an acquired disease, cardiomyopathy or e.g. pericardium disease. An adult can even sometimes have a congenital heart disease. Sometimes the reason for a heart disease is systemic.
Acquired heart diseases:
Mitral insufficiency ( MVD, MI)
Mitral insufficiency is very common heart disease especially in small breed dogs. The mitral valve degenerates and do not close properly anymore. The blood flows into wrong direction and the heart muscle has more resistance and needs to work harder. The heart gets enlarged and progressively loses its function. The dog starts to cough and is tired. The ultrasound examination reveals what kind of medication the dog needs.
Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)
DCM is common disease of Dobermans, typically after 4 years of age. The heart muscle progressively loses its function and is no more able to pump blood into the circulation. The animal gets lung edema and starts to cough. Arrhythmias are often present. The early diagnosis is extremely important for prognosis and the quality of life.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
HCM is usually a disease of cats. It is classified as an acquired heart disease even quite young cats can get it. The heart muscle progressively becomes thicker and stiff. Heart and the blood circulation do not work normally. Cats start breath heavily, are tired and are at risk of thromboembolism. Early diagnosis with echocardiography is very important to start medication in time.
Endocarditis is an inflammation of the inner layer of the heart, the endocardium. It usually involves the heart valves. The cause can be a bacterial infection i.e. from bad teeth of the pet. Risk factors include valvular heart disease and congenital heart disease. Therefore, pets good dental status including yearly dentistry checks are important. Also home care of pets teeth is important.
Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC)
This disease is also called Boxer cardiomyopathy due to high predisposition I the breed. Affected animals develop changes in the right heart chamber and get severe arrhythmias.