This month on the lead up to Valentines Day we are all loved up with our pets and raising awareness of how you can help keep them healthy for longer by noticing potential problems sooner. When your treasured companion gets a full health check you will notice we always check their chests and hearts to make sure everything is ticking over nicely. But what can you look out for at home? We asked Nik, one of our vets, to explain a bit more about what we look out for in the clinic and what you can look out for at home.
“As our lovely pet gets a bit older we have to make sure that we are aware that symptoms of diseases might start showing up. Heart disease might manifest symptoms in your pet such as exercise intolerance, lethargy, reluctance to go out for a walk and panting when your dog is settled and quiet. In some cases coughing might accompany panting as well.
Realising that something might be changing in our furry companion’s heart before symptoms of actual malfunction are seen, might be difficult as dogs might remain asymptomatic for a long while. A simple health check annually is not invasive and we can make sure that your treasured pet’s heart is checked regularly to spot changes sooner. Most importantly for them we can give them a few treats and a cuddle to try and help them see us as a positive thing!
We do what’s called ‘auscultation’ which is where we check your pet’s heart using a stethoscope. We listen to the heart valves and the hearts rhythm and rate. A respiratory rate is counted as well and a full health check is made to ensure that everything is fine. If there is evidence of a starting heart condition, a discussion can be made about whether we carry out some further tests such as a blood pressure check, or an electrocardiogram (ECG) which will help us to assess the electrical function of the heart and rule out any heart rhythm irregularities. If it’s required we can potentially X-ray your pets heart or carry out a heart ultrasound depending on what symptoms we have seen and to what extent.
What’s most important to remember is that even if there is something picked up on that health check, there are always ways we can help to make sure that the pet’s quality of life will not be impaired. We are there to support both you and your pet in getting the best care we can give to reduce the impact of any disease on both of your lives.”
If you are worried about your pet for any reason, or they are showing any of the symptoms mentioned by Nik above, then contact us and we can give your pet a healthy heart check up. During your appointment we will give you a care plan and should your pet have a heart murmur of grade 3 or above you will be offered an in house heart scan at a reduced cost for a limited time only.
Call us on 0113 267 8419 (Cookridge) or 01274 610627 (Greengates).
If you could do a bit of homework for us before that appointment it would be a great help to us! It’s useful to know your pets resting breathing rate, so if you could find your pet when they are resting and without disturbing them, time one minute and count the number of breaths they take in that minute. You can do this from a distance by watching their chest movements.