Prevent Heart Disease With Regular Checkups



Auscultating the heart (listening to the heart with a stethoscope) is part of the procedure for a nose-to-tail examination of your pet, which should be done annually for animal 6 years and younger, and biannually for older pets.

Heart disease is the second most common cause of death in dogs and cats, and a significant cause of poor performance in horses. Coughing, difficulty breathing, intolerance to exercise, enlarged abdomen and episodes of fainting are signs to watch for with dogs.


Auscultating his heart, Dr. Tracey Dutson found my Higgins to be in excellent health and condition.

Difficulty breathing and the inability to walk are indications of the condition in cats.

"The veterinarian will evaluate the animal's general physical condition, ask general health questions and listen to the heart and lungs as well as check gum color and pulses. Blood tests may be recommended, especially in older animals to establish a baseline. If the history and physical exam indicate a concern for a heart problem, chest X-rays, blood pressure, ECG (electrocardiogram) and echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) may be recommended," Tracey Dutson, DVM of Peoria, Ariz. said.

Dr. Dutson was doing free heart checks at the Heart to Heart Hustle in Phoenix recently. This event was intended to heighten awareness of heart problems in pets and to raise funds for research. She said that fairly often she discovers a heart murmur or other irregularity, which the pet's owner is totally unaware.

Medical management is the most common treatment for heart disease. Included are diet recommendations, weight loss, appropriate exercise, medications and regular checkups with the veterinarian. A pet may be referred to a veterinary cardiologist for more specific treatment. "Unfortunately," Dr. Dutson said, "heart disease is managed, not cured."

The College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University is a pioneer in developing new diagnostic techniques and treatments, which benefit both animals and humans with cardiovascular disease. At this hospital and research center, they are doing open-heart surgery, heart-valve repair and pacemaker implants in dogs, cats and other animals, and developing new drugs for blood clots.

They also collaborate with human pediatric cardiologists to test nonsurgical methods to help life-threatening cardiac problems in infants. This knowledge and expertise is shared with veterinarians around the world. Grants and other funding are essential to continue this research and training.

Obesity is very common today and puts excess strain on the heart and other organs.

Proper diet and regular exercise are major factors in heart health for both pets and people.

Care must be taken in extreme hot weather, but a walk is most always beneficial.

A thorough exam by your veterinarian is the best way to determine the condition of your pet's heart as well as his overall health and recommendations for continued good health.

The 13th annual "I Love My Dog" Show, sponsored by Soroptimist International, will be June 4 at Ramada 5 in Rumsey Park.

Note that this is a new location, hopefully with more shade for people and pets.

Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the show starts at 10 a.m. There will be fun events including best costume, fastest tail wag, dog and owner look alike, best trick, longest coat, most spots, largest and smallest dog and the weirdest bark.

Trophies will be awarded for President's Choice, Best of Show, Obstacle Course and People's Choice.

There will be special awards for the Junior Champion Boy and Girl handlers, 16 years and younger.

You are invited to bring a chair, blanket and picnic lunch to enjoy a fun-filled day with your dog, or just come and watch.

Registration fee is $5 per dog plus an additional $1 if you wish to do the obstacle course. Family and guests are free. The proceeds benefit local charities and the Soroptimist Education Fund.

Get busy working on that special trick and costume.his dog show is lots of fun for people and their pets.ou might even have the opportunity to try out a little Musical Freestyle.

A low-cost spay and neuter clinic is once again coming to Payson.

The Arizona Humane Society's mobile unit will be at Bashas' parking lot Tuesday, June 7, Wednesday, June 8 and Thursday, June 9. Check-in begins at 7 a.m.

Space is limited so do get there early. Dogs must be leashed and cats in carriers. No food for 12 hours prior to the procedure. All pets must be at least 2 months old and weigh no less than 2.5 pounds.

There is a limit of two pets per household unless space is available.

You will pick up your pet that same day and they should be kept inside after the surgery. For more information, call the Payson Humane Society, (928) 474-5590.

At least 130 pets have been neutered in the past few months due to rebate coupons and two previous spay and neuter clinics. What a terrific step on the way to fewer unwanted puppies and kittens and fewer euthanasias. We have a long way to go. Pet overpopulation is such a tragedy.

Do you want to join the Hiking with your Dog group, but do not have a dog or the right dog for this exercise? You can check out a shelter dog from the Payson Humane Society.

Imagine what a treat that would be for a dog confined to a small kennel. Only suitable dogs are allowed to go on these expeditions. Call Lori Chandler, (928) 476-2633 or e-mail her at for details.

Christy Powers is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry AZ 85544.

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