Keeping your pet in tip top condition

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World Heart Day on September 29th will put the spotlight on human heart health – but leading veterinary charity, PDSA, says it is also the perfect opportunity to take a good look at our four-legged-friends, to make sure we are providing them with the basics for a long and happy life.

Healthy, happy pets aren’t ready made – they need good exercise, a suitable environment and regular vet checks to make sure they’re in tip-top condition. And a healthy heart is a vital part of this formula.

PDSA Senior Vet, Elaine Pendlebury, says: “Just like humans, our pets’ hearts need some TLC to stay healthy. Cardiovascular fitness is a crucial part of providing the building blocks for a good long life.”

Elaine advises that pets should receive a routine health check each year, which will include a heart assessment. Older pets can benefit from more frequent checks so any problems will be picked up quickly. there are any concerns for their health.

The vet will check the heart’s rate and rhythm as well as the sound of the beats to ensure they all fall within a healthy range and strength.

They will also check to see if the heart has a ‘murmur’ where the valves aren’t working properly.

Regular checks mean problems can be detected early. So if you notice any of these symptoms, it’s best to contact your vet: Fainting or collapsing; reluctance to exercise, fatigue or weakness; coughing, especially during or after exercise; weight loss; increased heart and breathing rate; a bloated tummy (caused by fluid build up in the abdomen due to poor circulation).

Some heart problems will be pre-determined, but preventing your pets’ heart from working extra hard will decrease the chances of your pet’s heart becoming weakened and failing in later life. Maintaining a healthy weight is key to this, so feeding an appropriately balanced and suitable diet is particularly important. For more pet care tips log onto www.pdsa.org.uk/pethealth