Heartworms are exactly what they sound–3-6 inch worms that live in the heart [...]
Animals can be born with heart conditions (congenital defects), develop them at any stage of life (cardiomyopathy), or develop leaky valves as they get older.
Signs of heart disease include lethargy, coughing, weight loss, fainting and difficulty breathing. Some heart conditions come on slowly and other can seem to appear out of the blue particularly in cats.
Diagnosis of heart disease is made using the physical exam, there is often a heart murmur, radiographs (x-ray), ultrasound and in some cases blood tests specific for heart disease.
Sometimes we will refer a pet to a veterinary cardiologist for specialist care.
If caught early heart disease can often be well managed with medication and diet modification.