Vets are calling for dog owners to have a heart2heart about canine heart health with their local vet during Heart Week which continues until 2 May 2020.
According to research, heart disease affects 10% of all dogs. The most common cause of heart disease in dogs is myxomatous mitral valve disease (MMVD), which causes a progressive degeneration of the heart valves, and can lead to heart failure. Early screening, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease may help to significantly prolong and improve a dog’s life.
Dr Kate Adams, a leading expert on pets and the owner of Bondi Vet Hospital, said, “Heart Week for humans encourages more people to understand the risk factors of heart disease and take the right steps to reduce this risk, and this is exactly what we are encouraging dog owners to do for their pet pooches as well. Heart Week is the perfect time to raise awareness of canine heart health and ask dog owners to take their dog to the vet for a heart health check.”
Part Of The Family
A ‘Pets in Australia’ survey by Animal Medicines Australia found that dog and cat owners tend to regard their pets as ‘fur babies’, with over 60% of dog and cat owners referring to their pet as a member of the family. The survey found that most spend an average of three to four hours with their pets every day.
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Dr Adams said, “Dogs continue to be Australia’s most popular pets, with over five million dogs across the nation and 40% of households having at least one dog. It’s important that dog owners stay informed and know the signs to look out for when it comes to heart disease. Early diagnosis and treatment when taken to a vet may give them more quality time with their furry friends.”
According to Dr Adams, the outlook for dogs with heart disease has improved significantly in recent years, with emphasis shifting to early treatment for optimal benefits. “In the early stages of heart disease, dogs may show no outward signs of being unwell. However, as time progresses, so can their condition.”
At Risk Breeds
“For all dogs, particularly if they are over six years of age or one of the most at risk breeds, including Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Poodles, Schnauzers, Chihuahuas, Fox Terriers or Jack Russell Terriers, it’s important to be aware of heart health and what can be done at home.
“Even if your dog seems healthy, they should visit the vet at least once a year for a check-up, or even more frequently for dogs over six. Dog owners can also monitor their dog’s resting respiratory rate (RRR) – they should ask their local vet for more information.
“In addition, dogs should be regularly monitored for signs that might indicate the presence of heart disease such as changes in breathing, behaviour and energy levels, exercise intolerance, fainting, restlessness, and changes in appetite,” said Dr Adams.
The most common cause of heart disease in dogs is myxomatous mitral valve disease (MMVD).
There are four main stages:
- A – Dogs at high risk for heart disease. No disease is present.
- B – A murmur is heard but there are no outward signs of heart failure
- Stage B1 – The heart does not appear enlarged on an x-ray or echocardiogram
- Stage B2 – The heart is sufficiently enlarged or changed on an x-ray or echocardiogram to warrant treatment
- C and D – Heart failure
- Once the dog progresses to Stages C and D (also known as heart failure), there are visible indications of disease as the heart fails to function properly
To learn more about heart health in dogs, visit www.healthyheartsfordogs.com.au.