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Your Dog's Heart Health: What You Need to Know

By: Dr. Amanda Landis-Hanna
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As you may remember, I talked a bit about exercise, obesity, and heart health a few weeks ago.  As we wrap up February, I thought we should chat a bit more about a “healthy heart,” and what that means.

The American Heart Association and Centers for Disease Control are great resources for information on human heart health.  But what resources are available for our canine family members?  

As a practicing veterinarian, I would argue that your Primary Care Veterinarian should be your No. 1 resource.  Your vet knows your dog, and is able to monitor for health trends during each physical exam.  Some forms of heart disease can develop at a young age, especially in certain breeds like Boxers and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.  Congenital (or birth) abnormalities can cause lifelong changes to how the cardiovascular system works.  Age related changes, which are common in breeds such as Doberman Pinchers, Poodles, and Great Danes can cause degeneration of the heart over time.

Prevention is vastly important in human health disease.  For our furry friends, a few preventative options include feeding a healthy, balanced diet, and getting 30 minutes of moderate impact cardiovascular activity every day.  Keeping your pet lean can also help her heart, since she doesn’t have to oxygenate an overabundance of fatty tissue. Year-round heartworm prevention is vital, since there are few other options to “medically” prevent heart disease.

Catching heart disease early is often the difference between a “good” prognosis and a “guarded” prognosis.  The sooner your veterinarian catches the problem, the sooner you can start treatment, which can minimize long term stress to the kidneys, and increasing blood pressure.

As the veterinary community tries to develop additional methods for early detection, we rely increasingly on non-invasive test methods such as monitoring resting respiratory rate.  Your Primary Care Veterinarian can teach you this monitoring technique, but with most people’s overwhelming schedule, it can be difficult to take this reading as consistently as we would like.  Using Voyce™ can help improve not only the consistency, but also the accuracy. Voyce measures your dog’s respiratory rate when your dog is at rest providing an average of beats per minute based on recent readings.

Being an involved member of your dog’s health care team is extremely important.  Pet parents spend more time with their dog’s than the veterinarian, so it is essential that you notify your veterinary team if you see changes such as coughing, lethargy, fainting, bloated belly, or poor appetite.  And if you use Voyce, make sure to add your veterinarian as a Caregiver, so she can help you monitor your pet.  With both of you looking after her heart, your dog will have the best chance of having a long, heart healthy life!

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Dr. LH is one of many veterinarian and pet-pet health professionals that are featured experts for Voyce. This article is an example of the beneficial articles found in the Voyce member portal that is included with your purchase of the Voyce band and membership. To order your Voyce Experience, click here!