Recognising a broken heart!

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, what a better time to discuss heart disease.

Heart disease is extremely common in our cute smaller  fluffy breeds such as Cavaliers and Maltese, but larger breeds such as Boxers and Dobermans are also commonly diagnosed.  Dr Montana, one of our lovely Veterinarians at the clinic mentioned “Some studies show, almost 100% of cavaliers over 10 years of age have heart murmurs” “But don’t worry”, she said “Just because a dog is diagnosed with a heart murmur doesn’t necessarily mean your loved furry companion is suffering or will suffer from heart disease in the future, we just need to keep a closer eye on it”.

Jondi doesn’t let a broken heart bring him down!

Jondi, the cute little Maltese Shih-tzu pictured, is unfortunately one of the unlucky breeds prone to the disease and consequently was diagnosed with a grade 3/5 heart murmur and heart disease three years ago.  But don’t you worry, that hasn’t stopped him! His owners often tell us “He is still the cheeky little dog he was when he was younger, just a little slower’’. He is now 15 years old, one of the oldest members in our Senior Pet Club!

 Jondi originally came in with a dry, chesty cough after exercising, playing with his fur-brother Pumba and after bath time. After listening to his heart and taking x-rays of his chest, Dr Kathryn diagnosed him with heart disease. He now takes medications daily, his devoted owner monitors his sleeping respiration rate and he visits the clinic for routine check-ups.    

Signs of heart disease:

Unfortunately, Heart disease isn’t easy to spot. It creeps up on our furry friends slowly and can take months or even years before recognisable symptoms occur.  Being able to recognise these symptoms early is the key! That  way our Veterinarians can intervene with medications early, helping your fur-baby live a longer, happier life.

Signs to look out for:

  • Coughing, especially after exercise or at night
  • Laboured breathing
  • A reluctance to exercise and tiring more easily on walks
  • An enlarged abdomen
  • Weight loss or poor appetite
  • Weakness or fainting associated with exercise.


The link between smelly breath and heart disease

Did you know heart disease has been linked to dental disease?  (click the link to see our clinic dental disease handout)

Plaque and tartar that accumulate on our pets teeth can lead to infection of the gums, also known as gingivitis. Bacteria from this infection can spread into the blood stream, being pushed around the body and into the heart. Sadly this process then creates and infection in the heart, known as endocarditis. On the upside though, there are some simple yet effective ways we can take on Dental Disease:  They include:

  • Regular dental check-ups with our lovely veterinarians and nurses.
  • Providing  your fur baby with a good quality dry food diet (click the link to see our nutrition handout)
  • Brushing your pets teeth (Yep, you heard me right!, Pets need their teeth brushed too!)


Treatments available:

The good news is, as with Jondi’s case, there are some excellent medications available to help a pet suffering from heart disease. These medications can keep the heart condition at bay and help your pet live a longer, happier and as close to normal life as possible.

So here’s to hoping there are no broken hearts this valentines day, for both pets and humans! However, if you are worried your pet may have a heart problem, please don’t hesitate to call us to arrange a check up with our team of lovely veterinarians.


Providing the best veterinary health care for animals is important to us here at the Murray Bridge Veterinary Clinic. We have the facilities, equipment and trained, experienced staff to deal with any query on animal health and pet care. “We strive to provide outstanding service at all times”.