Photo: Courtesy of the American Heartworm Society.
Austin—During Heart Health Awareness Month, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) would like to remind pet owners that our furry Valentines are susceptible to heart problems too.
These include heart disease, heart murmurs and heartworms among others. There are various symptoms that pet owners should report to their veterinarians as soon as they’re noticed.
According to healthypet.com, general symptoms of heart disease include restlessness, coughing, fatigue, fainting, bluish tongue, loss of appetite, body swelling and a rapid or very slow heartbeat. Heart murmurs are usually indicators of heart issues, which a veterinarian can detect with a stethoscope, so once or twice a year check-ups are a good idea. Obesity is also something to help your pets avoid, since it can cause a pet’s heart to become overworked to compensate. That’s why it’s so important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise your pet regularly.
Another heart concern for pets is heartworms. According to the American Heartworm Society (AHS), in both dogs and cats the early stages of heartworm infection can produce no noticeable symptoms. But when the infection becomes more severe, symptoms in dogs can include persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue, reduced appetite and weight loss. Signs in cats can include vomiting, gagging, difficulty or rapid breathing, lethargy, weight loss or no symptoms at all, which is why giving a heartworm preventative to both dogs and cats is a good idea.
“Many people think of heartworms as a ‘dog disease’ but that isn’t true,” said Deborah Besch, DVM, an associate at Austin Vet Hospital. “It occurs in cats as well, so it’s just as important to give cats a heartworm preventative.”
The difference between heartworms in dogs and cats is that dogs can be treated even after contracting heartworms, but unfortunately, there is currently no treatment for heartworms in cats once the disease is contracted. Therefore, the best way to fight this disease is to prevent it, by giving a heartworm preventative to your dogs, cats and even your ferrets on a regular basis.
So this Valentine’s Day, be sure to remember your furry friends’ heart health by giving them routine veterinary visits, healthy food, regular exercise and heartworm preventatives.
Founded in 1903, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association is a professional association composed of more than 3,700 veterinarians committed to protecting public health, promoting high educational, ethical and moral standards within the veterinary profession, and educating the public about animal health and its relationship to human health. For more information, call 512/452-4224 or visit tvma.org.