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And so we reach February. The month in which we celebrate St. Valentine, break our New Year Resolutions, embark on an internet trip to, and seek romance to fill our beating heart.

dog-roseHeart disease in dogs, cats and horses is a fascinating subject. We do not see the acquired heart disease that so many humans in the Western World develop. This is because the blood vessels that supply the heart muscle itself, the coronary vessels, are relatively far healthier in my patients.

Thankfully my patients do not smoke, drink alcohol, suffer much diabetes and exercise daily.

The first time most owners discover their dog has a heart problem is when the vet crumples their brow listening to their stethoscope during a routine vaccination and goes quiet…. then pronounces they can hear a murmur. A murmur is a sound produced by abnormal blood flow through the heart and is common. What is really important is to distinguish the cause of the murmur.

Many are innocent and have no obvious underlying structural cause, others can reflect a problem the patient was born with (congenital) or developed over its lifetime (acquired).

Dogs suffer from degenerative mitral valve disease (DMVD) and diseases of the heart muscle – the force behind the pump itself – cardiomyopathies.

Cats also suffer from heart muscle disease. Coughing, exercise intolerance and fainting are often the first signs of a more serious problem when the heart disease is causing signs of malfunction– heart failure. These symptoms definitely justify a visit to Abbey Vets but the good news is we have some great ways of helping these patients and their ‘broken’ hearts.

Ben Hynes is a veterinary surgeon at Abbey Vets, Abergavenny

Article by Ben Hynes

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