Heart problems can affect pets at any age, though they are more common in older pets. Heart failure occurs when the heart can no longer pump blood around the body effectively. Heart failure can lead to congestive heart failure. If an animal is suffering from congestive heart failure, it usually accumulates fluid in the lungs, though it can also result in fluid accumulation in the abdomen. Animals suffering from congestive heart failure often experience difficulty breathing and frequent coughing. Some causes of heart failure include congenital heart disease (animals born with a heart problem), valvular heart disease (abnormalities of the valves of the heart), heartworm disease and arrhythmias (rhythm disturbances).
Many heart problems can be identified during physical examinations. Additional tests are usually required to accurately identify the cause of the disease. Additional tests include EKGs (electrocardiograms), radiographs (X-rays) and ultrasounds.
Heart disease is a serious, life-threatening condition, but early diagnosis and appropriate therapy can extend your pet’s life.