Heart Disease in Dogs & Cats

Heart disease affects approximately one in every ten dogs and cats. As our pets age, we see a dramatic increase in the number of affected patients.

Heart disease affects an estimated one in every ten dogs and cats. As our patients age, we have all seen the number of them affected by heart disease increase dramatically. By some estimations, greater than 30% of geriatric dogs are affected by heart disease.

New York Veterinary Specialty Center is offering top-flight veterinary cardiology services from Board Certified Cardiologist, Dr. George Kramer. Dr. Kramer is available to diagnose and treat heart disease and many other cardiac illnesses.

How do I know if my dog or cat has heart disease?
It is often difficult to determine if our pet’s quality of life is affected by heart disease because they cannot communicate to us with words. In fact, it is very common for owners to be unaware their pet has heart disease until the disease has reached an advanced stage. The most common signs of heart disease in your pet include difficulty breathing, coughing, exercise intolerance, and intermittent weakness or even collapse. These symptoms often come on suddenly and are progressive. Fortunately, there are abnormalities that can be discovered on routine physical exams that may cause your primary veterinarian to suspect your pet is suffering from heart disease and refer you to NYVSC. We can gain an understanding of your pet’s heart disease through the use of various diagnostic tests that are available at our hospital.

What can be done to help my dog or cat if they have been diagnosed with heart disease?
The exact type and extent of treatment your pet needs depends on their diagnosis. In fact, not every dog or cat that is diagnosed with heart disease needs treatment. Those who do need treatment will receive a plan of action tailored to their specific needs. For instance, there are many medications that can be given, both in an emergency setting and chronically, to help pateints with congestive heart failure. While one patient may need just one or two medications to extend life and improve its quality, another patient with similar conditions could require six or seven medications to achieve the same goal. Additionally, there are some patients who may not respond well to medications at all but can see dramatic improvements through use of surgical procedures such as transvenous pacemaker implantation, patent ductus arteriosus coil occlusion, and balloon valvuloplasty.

Diagnostic Tests

  • Electrocardiogram
    This is a brief recording of the electrical activity in the heart. Many animals with heart disease have abnormal electrical activity which may or may not require treatment.
  • Chest Radiograph
    This test will provide information about the size and shape of the heart and provide insight into the health status of the lungs.
  • Holter monitor/event recorder
    These devices record long periods of the heart’s electrical activity, usually 24 hours to several days.
  • Echocardiogram
    This is the most comprehensive test a Cardiologist can perform. It is an ultrasound of the heart. Our Board Certified Cardiologists use a state-of-the-art human echocardiography machine which provides vital information about the structure and function of the heart.
  • Angiocardiography
    This is when a dye is injected into the heart. It is similar to an x-ray, but this provides additional information about the structure and function of the heart. It is most frequently utilized in pets with congenital heart disease.
  • MRI
    Occasionally an MRI can provide beneficial information about the heart and it’s surrounding structures in ways that the other imaging modalities cannot.