The Health of Your Pet’s Heart
The heart is part of the cardiovascular system, which also includes all of the blood vessels in the body. Together, they form a circuit, or a loop, through which the blood travels around the body.
How does the heart work?
- The left side of your heart receives oxygenated or “red” blood cells from your lungs and pumps it through your arteries to the rest of your body to deliver oxygen and nutrients. The right side of your heart receives oxygen-poor blood from your veins and pumps it to your lungs, where it picks up oxygen and gets rid of carbon dioxide. And all of that happens without you or your pet feeling a thing.
- The heart pumps blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen, to become ‘red’ blood, and then the blood travels around the body to deliver oxygen and nutrients and take away the waste; this is how oxygenated “red blood” becomes deoxygenated “blue blood.” The heart also helps maintain normal blood pressure.
What is the heart made of?
- A special type of muscle: Sometimes, the muscle can become thickened. This is the most common type of heart disease in cats.
- Made up of four chambers which hold blood:
- The top chambers are reservoir chambers called the atria. It’s on the right and left side.
- The bottom chamber, the main pumping chambers, are called the ventricles. It’s on the right and left side.
- An electrical system that controls how fast I beat and coordinates my muscle contractions
- The atrium and ventricle are separated by one-way valves to ensure blood is moving in a forward direction.
Sometimes, these valves will become leaky and cause blood to leak backward. This can cause the heart to become enlarged and get sick. This is one of the most common diseases in dogs.
- Heart disease means there is an abnormal change in the heart. Not all pets with the disease will develop heart failure. Failure comes later as the disease progresses with no treatment.
- The term heart failure means that the heart is not pumping an adequate amount of blood. This leads to a shortage of oxygen being delivered to the body.
- The term congestive heart failure means that there is fluid buildup in the lungs around the lungs or in the belly.
The common signs of heart disease:
- Collapse or fainting
- Restlessness, unable to get comfortable
- Lethargy or weakness
- Excessive panting, wheezing, or trouble breathing
- Decreased appetite
Your veterinarian may require some tests to evaluate your pet’s heart, such as X-Ray, Ultrasound, or Electrocardiogram.
Concerned about your pet’s health? Talk to us today at 813-920-0303.
Getting to Know Your Pet’s Heart (2016). Red Bank Veterinary HospitalsTM.
www.redbankvet.com/2016/06/getting-know-pets-heart. Accessed September 15, 2020.
How the Heart Works (2019). Michigan Medicine: University of Michigan.
www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/tx4097abc. Accessed September 15, 2020.
8 Common Diseases in Dogs (2018). My Animals.
myanimals.com/health/veterinarian-care/illnesses-and-treatment/common-diseases-dogs. Accessed September 15, 2020.