Snuggles is an adorable, sweet, almost 13 year old boy with heart disease. He was diagnosed when he was only 7 years old. He was brought to Lockridge Animal Hospital by his mom during an episode of back pain. He was scheduled for x-rays under general anesthesia. When he was examined by Dr. McCammon before anesthetic administration, a heart murmur was detected. This was a new finding for Snuggles. Chest x-rays were taken and though no heart failure was evident, his heart did appear to be slightly enlarged. Dr. McCammon recommended a cardiac ultrasound to evaluate the structure and function of Snuggles’ heart.
His mom agreed and he was scheduled for a cardiac ultrasound with a board certified cardiologist that sees patients at our hospital. It was determined that Snuggles had a progressive form of heart disease called Chronic Valvular Disease. The valves of the heart control the flow of blood between the heart chambers. If they become hardened or diseased with age, it can lead to heart failure. Though no cardiac medications were recommended at that time, a follow-up cardiac ultrasound was recommended in 6 months to monitor disease progression.
Living with heart disease can be a challenge. Every patient is different and there are many types of heart disease, each requiring their own specific treatment plan. Pet parents take a very active role in recognizing and monitoring heart health at home. Signs and symptoms may be subtle. Changes in your pet such as exercise intolerance, decrease in energy or reduced activity, coughing, weakness, increased resting respiratory rate or difficulty breathing. Unfortunately, signs and symptoms don’t often occur until the disease is significant. Snuggles’ heart disease was diagnosed very early during a thorough physical exam prior to administering anesthesia. His mom’s willingness to take a proactive role in his health care made all the difference.
Since his diagnosis Snuggles has had regular follow up visits including cardiac ultrasounds and chest x-rays. His blood pressure is also monitored. Just this past year he has begun to require medication for his heart disease. He has also started a prescription diet designed specifically for dogs with heart disease. Utilizing all these methods of monitoring, treatment and prevention have helped Snuggles live a long and happy life. He is an amazing boy and is very lucky to have such a wonderful mom!