Heart Disease

Heart disease in elderly pets is typically acquired – not present at birth but developing at a later date. Congestive heart failure, a consequence of many types of heart disease, is usually a result of the heart’s inability to pump blood forward in a normal manner. Stress is placed on the heart muscle and valves and a back-up of blood may occur in the lungs and/or liver resulting in abnormal fluid accumulations in the chest or abdomen. Heart disease is often diagnosed with diagnostic tests.

Some of the signs and symptoms of heart disease in elderly pets include:

  • reduced activity/lethargy
  • increased sleeping
  • exercise intolerance
  • coughing
  • weight loss
  • diarrhea
  • possible fainting spells
  • severe weight loss
  • distended abdomen
  • vomiting/diarrhea
  • blue-gray colored gums
  • leg swelling
  • difficulty swallowing
  • difficulty breathing
  • fluid lung sounds
  • unable to rest
  • unable to rise
  • difficulty breathing
  • prolonged seizures
  • uncontrollable vomiting/diarrhea
  • sudden collapse
  • profuse bleeding — internal or external
  • crying/whining from pain

There are many treatments available for heart disease, each one focusing on the underlying cause of the disease. Medications, surgery, and other therapies may recommended by your vet and your vet may recommend a vet cardiologist for your elderly pet. A diet low in salt can also be an important component of therapy for congestive heart failure, as it helps minimize fluid retention in the body.

If caught early enough, pets with heart disease can be treated with medication and other treatments and can live for many years after their diagnosis.

Should you need help paying for your pet’s medical treatment and care, we are not accepting applications at this time, but you may contact The Pet Fund at 916-443-6007 to inquire about funding for non basic, non emergency care. If you qualify, payment would be made directly to your veterinarian.

We highly recommend pet insurance for parents of elderly pets. Visit our pet insurance facts page for more information about pet insurance and other products that have helped our elderly pets live longer, better lives.