Heart Disease in Cats and Dogs

Heart disease is a broad term encompassing many abnormal conditions of the heart. These can include heart murmurs, arrhythmias, heart muscle defects and congenital conditions. Heart disease can occur at any age and may progress to heart failure.

Causes of heart disease in cats and Dogs

Just like in humans, heart disease can be due to a number of factors, including:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Poor diet

Symptoms of Heart Disease

The following symptoms can be evidence of an existing or impending problem

  • Shortness of breath and coughing caused by fluid build-up in the chest
  • A very rapid or very slow heart beat
  • Exhaustion, fainting, or blue colour to the tongue or gums
  • Loss of appetite, increased thirst, urinating more
  • Swelling of the tummy or legs


Whenever your pet comes to one of clinics for a check-up, your vet will perform a general physical exam. If from this exam your Vet suspects any abnormality in heart function, we will carry out further diagnostic tests such as radiographs which will assess any changes in size or shape of the heart and also check for any abnormal fluid build-up in the chest which can be associated with heart disease.

Blood and urine tests may also be performed to check kidney and liver function as these organs are often impaired in heart disease.

If further investigations are needed to find out more specific details about your pets condition they may be referred to a cardiac specialist.

Management and Treatment of Heart Disease

Most types of heart disease can be controlled, at least for some time. Medication can slow down the progression of the disease in some cases.

Your vet may prescribe any number of treatments as necessary to help your pet lead a more comfortable life. Treatment will vary with the stage of heart disease your pet has.


It is important to monitor your pets’ progress if it has heart disease. Generally we recommend 6 monthly check-up’s for an animal with a heart condition.