In the month of love, our focus shifts naturally to matters of the heart… But what about the ACTUAL heart?
We probably all know that the heart is a large and complicated muscle designed to pump blood throughout our body, delivering nutrients and all the good stuff to our major organs. Without it, we would die. Although a very different build to us, the same is true of our furry friends.
In the average dog, the heart muscle will beat approximately 150,000 times in a single day! Heart disease can occur in dogs just as it does with us humans. Where the blood circulation is interrupted muscles and organs can receive too little of what they need, meaning that they do not work effectively or worsen in performance over time.
There are many types of heart disease, and The Enquirer do not profess to be vets, and so we urge you to always seek medical advice from a qualified veterinarian before making drastic decisions concerning your pets health or worrying about specific illness/disease. So, when do you contact your vet? There are a few things to watch for when looking out for your pet’s heart health:-
- Prolonged coughing; just like with us humans, most common cold-type illnesses should clear up within a few days in an otherwise healthy dog. If the cough is persistent over a period of time, and/or occurs more before bedtime or after exercise, pop in to see your vet.
- Problems breathing; this sounds like an obvious one, but laboured breathing, shortness of breath, or difficulty during exercising are less common in our pets than they are in us when we take that annual trip to the gym! Bear in mind that your dog is designed for these types of activities, and therefore any difficulty should be a flag for us to get them checked.
- A dog may naturally tire easier as they get older, but tiring easily may also be a sign that their heart is struggling to keep up.
- Difficulty settling; if your dog has difficulty settling, particularly at bedtime, this could also be a sign.
Many heart problems within dogs have been shown to be genetic, and so health screening programs have proven effective at stopping the transference of such problems. Due to this genetic factor, it is often not possible to prevent a problem entirely. However, as with many issues, early detection is always the best option and so regular check-ups with your vet and making sure that you are in tune with your pet’s “normal” behaviour are the best ways to protect them.
Information and Images from:
BarkPost (feature image originally from BarkPost, via sweetyhigh.com)