Keeping a Healthy Heart - Let’s take a look at the topic of cardiovascular health for us and our pets.
Studies have shown that there is a proven link between pet ownership (particularly dog ownership) and a healthier heart. Reasons for this can range from the increased exercise that pet owners gain from walking their dogs, through to a reduction of stress in the workplace, to protecting against respiratory infection and lowering blood pressure.
Like us, our pets, particularly dogs and cats can suffer from heart problems – particularly for those in more advanced years. Symptoms to look out for include coughing (especially at night), a decrease in appetite and tiredness on walks. If you think your pet may be suffering, contact your vet who will be able to advise you on the best treatment, diet, and exercise.
When it comes to keeping your pet’s heart healthy at any age, an ongoing exercise and fitness routine appropriate to the pet is key, as is a suitable and balanced diet. Exercise is not only beneficial for keeping our pets’ hearts healthy, but also for keeping them mentally stimulated – and it can do us a power of good too. For example, exercising a dog provides a powerful stimulus to getting outside into the fresh air, even when the weather might make us want to just curl up in front of Netflix! Cats may need that extra bit of indoor play and stimulation if being next to the radiator is more appealing than the garden. With regular exercise their chance of obesity decreases, and in turn, the risk of heart disease and stress.
For dog owners, as part of knowing more about their normal state with a view to being able to spot when things may be wrong, some vets and experts now recommend finding out and monitoring your dog’s Resting Respiratory Rate. You can do this manually or there are even several handy apps for your phone that can help. If you familiarise yourself with what is normal, then if there are changes, these can act as an alert to talk to your vet, even if your dog seems outwardly healthy. This simple thing can help with both the early detection and monitoring of heart disease and may help your dog live a longer, active life. For further information, speak to your vet.