Veterinary Cardiologist - How to treat pets with heart disease

As in the world of human beings, the animal universe also has health problems of the most diverse nature, which affect the most varied regions and organs of animals - requiring specialized professionals so that any type of complication that may endanger the lives of animals pets is resolved in the best way. Increasingly in demand in the world of pet health, the veterinary cardiologist is largely responsible for the care of the heart of dogs and cats, offering greater chances that animals with cardiac pathologies can be treated and cured.

Although the level of evolution and technology present in the world of veterinary cardiology cannot yet be compared with that of human medicine (as is the case with all other specialties in the world of animal medicine); The veterinary cardiologist today it has a series of important tools that allow it to perform revealing and specific exams - being able, in this way, to define diagnoses in an early and more precise way and, still, to investigate better the areas and cardiac functions that present alterations and that need more attention to the indication of an appropriate treatment.

Trained in clinical cardiology, specialists in this area of ​​veterinary medicine are able to evaluate dogs and cats in a totally targeted way to investigate possible heart problems, with the help of equipment aimed at the universe of veterinary cardiology (such as echocardiogram devices , electrocardiogram, holter, among others) that allow these professionals both to discover the causes of the pathologies, define the exact location of the problem and at what stage the disease is.

In addition to the equipment used for specific exams in this specialty, there are also tools considered common that can help a lot in the identification of possible heart disease in animals small, such as the device to measure the patient's blood pressure.

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Even though it is a procedure ignored by many professionals in the veterinary field, pressure measurement is extremely defended and cited by many specialists in different areas of animal medicine; since, through this simple process, it is possible to have evidence of a series of complications that may already be installed in the pet's health - including a possible heart disease, since the high blood pressure of the pet is one of the main signs that something is wrong may be happening to your pet's health.

Check out, in this article, a little more about the main responsibilities of the veterinary cardiologist, how his work works and how the different animal cardiology equipment can help these competent professionals save the lives of countless pets.

The role of the veterinary cardiologist

The specialty of veterinary cardiology has different specific areas, and veterinary professionals who wish to enter this world can choose even more specific areas within the field, such as clinic, research, surgery or diagnosis.

Although the veterinary cardiologists they must be fully prepared to care for their patients, have complete teams and have specialists in all ‘subcategories’ of the area of ​​expertise is essential to offer qualified and effective care to dogs and cats with any cardiac complications.

Working together, this powerful group of specialists is able to identify a series of possible cardiac dysfunctions early - and can even initiate preventive treatment for the animal, being able to minimize or even delay the development of a heart disease.

With more and more dedicated veterinary professionals, the specialty of cardiology in the animal world already has the SBCV - Brazilian Society of Veterinary Cardiology as a great ally for just over 20 years; disseminating and supporting the most diverse studies, research and investigations regarding the world of heart disease in animals.

Veterinary cardiology exams

As previously mentioned, there are a series of tests that facilitate the definition of diagnoses and the most appropriate treatments related to veterinary cardiology - and, in many cases, such tests also serve as a great basis for verifying the health of dogs and cats during the preoperative period; guaranteeing the physical integrity of the animal in anesthesia, surgical procedures and others of the most diverse natures.

The main exams in veterinary cardiology are as follows:

  • Electrocardiogram

    Also called electrocardiography (or by the acronym ECG), the electrocardiogram is an exam that has existed for over a hundred years in the world of human medicine, and it generates extremely useful results, also, in veterinary medicine. Through it, it is possible to identify the existence of dysfunctions in the rhythm of the animal's heartbeat, known as arrhythmias; it is often used to investigate and prevent risks of sudden death in the animal.

    Widely used in preoperative situations, the electrocardiogram is a great tool for assessments made before anesthesia, which are necessary for different surgical procedures - allowing the definition of the most appropriate anesthetic protocol to be used, so that there are no complications with the animal.

  • Echocardiogram

    It allows the cardiac structures of the animal to be evaluated, the size of the heart, its blood flow, the force with which it contracts and possible lesions in the heart valves, among others; the echocardiogram is one of the most efficient tests for the early diagnosis of heart-related diseases in animals.

    Indicated for pets that have some type of symptom that may be related to a heart disease, echocardiography is required in cases with signs of lethargy, persistent cough, weak pulse and intolerance to physical activities, in addition to being indicated also in the control of cardiopathies that already exist in order to help adjust the treatment that is already being done.

    Patients with pulmonary edema, congenital heart disease, suspected heart disease and cardiac tumors may also need to undergo this examination, thus facilitating the monitoring of the evolution of various cardiac disorders.

  • Ecodopplercardiogram

    The echocardiogram can be explained as a more detailed echocardiogram, allowing the visualization and investigation of the same portions analyzed by the echocardiogram, but it mainly highlights the cardiac blood flow, its speed and direction. The exam lasts, on average, thirty minutes.

  • Holter

    It consists of a kind of heart rate recorder, the Holter is a small device that is attached to the animal's body for 24 hours, monitoring the heartbeat and changes of the pet in an uninterrupted manner. Exercising the same role as electrocardiogram exams, the device generates a report of the animal's cardiac activities during the time that it performs its normal activities in its habitat.

In other words, the device records the electrical activity of the heart while your animal is at home, while playing, eating and sleeping, allowing the recording of some changes that would not be possible during the electrocardiogram exam, because in this, the monitoring is done during a shorter period of time, around ten to fifteen minutes.

Some pets may be too uncomfortable with the device and end up destroying it, or some animals that are used to swimming pools, need more attention from the owner so that they do not enter the water while they are with the equipment.

  • Blood Pressure Measurement

    The procedure of blood pressure measurement in animals is basically the same as that performed in humans, and together with the clinical signs that the animal is showing, they can serve as signs of heart disease or other pathologies linked to kidney diseases and hypertension .

    Regardless of the animal's suspicions or health condition, it is essential that this procedure be performed periodically and in all visits that the animal makes to a veterinary professional; since, through this non-invasive exam, it is possible to suspect some diseases and assess the existence of a series of other more serious complications - which can be alleviated and even avoided with early treatment.

The main heart diseases in dogs and cats

Although some breeds are predisposed to the development of heart disease, age is still one of the main risk factors for a dog or cat to have heart disease - the risks of this type of complication increasing considerably after the pet's nine years of age. . Different types of heart disease may already appear soon after the birth of the animal, they are called congenital heart diseases.

There are a number of canine breeds with a greater predisposition in relation to the others in developing, throughout life, some type of heart disease, including popular and beloved names such as Poodle, Boxer, Bulldog, Dobermann, Cocker and Rottweiler, among others.

Although the vast majority of heart diseases in animals do not have concrete forms of prevention, taking your pet (especially if he is elderly) to regular appointments with a veterinarian can be of great help in identifying heart diseases early. and, thus, delaying the development of the disease and treating it more quickly and efficiently, providing a better quality of life for your animal.

Some important symptoms - which can also appear due to other diseases not related to the heart - can manifest in dogs with heart disease, including signs of weight loss without apparent cause, constant drowsiness, apathy, difficulty in breathing, strong and frequent coughs, increase in abdominal volume, easy tiredness, very pale gums, purplish tongue or “gagging” cough.

In cats, however, the signs can be a little more subtle, and can sometimes go unnoticed, however, the difficulty in breathing (animal breathing with an open mouth) and occurrences of paralysis in the limbs are some of the main signs that something can impairing the health of the pussy due to a heart problem. As mentioned, taking the pet to a professional for evaluation when noticing any type of abnormal symptom in the animal is essential for it to recover - since, an accurate diagnosis and treatment started immediately are keys to the success of health of pets.

All types of heart disease have a different form of treatment - which will be indicated by a professional specialized in the health of the animal; since, each case may ask for different treatment measures. While some must be medicated for the rest of their lives to be able to live well with a serious heart disease, others may need medication only for certain periods; but the important thing is that no owner ever tries to medicate his pet on his own - even because, in the vast majority of cases, the wrong dose of a cardiac medication for promoting intoxication of the animal and even leading it to death.

Check out some of the most common and frequent heart diseases in the world of dogs and cats:

  • Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease

    Characterized by the mitral valve insufficiency resulting from the degeneration of its valves, the condition is one of the most common in veterinary cardiology, and can be diagnosed by means of echocardiogram. The problem is treated according to the development of the disease and the existence of other complications associated with it.

  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy

    There is a dilation of the cardiac chambers, which can lead to a reduction in the contractility of the cardiac muscle, which can cause symptoms such as fainting, weight loss and increased abdominal volume, among others. Boxer dogs are part of the group that most presents this type of complication; which can also be detected by performing an echocardiogram.

  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

    Caused by hypertrophy of the cardiac musculature, the condition is quite common in cats of breeds such as Maine Coon and Persian, decreasing the internal space of the cardiac cavities, thus impairing the adequate blood flow. Difficulty in breathing and sudden paralysis of the hind limbs are part of the main signs of the problem - which can be confirmed by increasing the thickness of the ventricular walls (visible on echocardiograms).

  • Systemic Arterial Hypertension

    Whether or not it is associated with kidney or endocrine problems, hypertension can cause sudden neurological symptoms and sudden blindness. It is diagnosed with the measurement of blood pressure in routine visits to the veterinarian.

  • Pulmonary and Aortic Stenosis

    It is a narrowing in the outlet valve of the pulmonary artery or aorta, preventing the flow of adequate blood flow to the animal's body, causing symptoms related to lack of oxygenation, such as tiredness, fainting and shortness of breath.

  • Artery Duct Persistence

    This congenital problem causes atypical communication between the animal's aorta and pulmonary artery, causing pulmonary hypertension and other complications. If diagnosed early, it can be treated with surgery, allowing the animal to lead a normal life.

  • Thromboembolism

    Quite common among cats with hypertrophic heart disease, this disease consists of the development of clots that can obstruct smaller vessels in the animal's circulation, which can lead to sudden paralysis of the animal's hind limbs.

  • Heartworm

    In the case of a disease transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, heartworm disease is a parasitic disease that is usually more common in dogs than in cats. Causing the installation of worms (which, as adults, can reach a size greater than 30 centimeters in length) in the heart of the animal, the disease causes the obstruction of the passage of blood to the body, weakening the heart muscle of the animal, and may take the animal death. More common in animals that go to beaches.

  • Myocardial infarction

    Caused by an obstruction process that prevents adequate blood flow to the heart. Very rare in dogs and cats, but often seen in humans.

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