Veterinary Cardiology Services For Dogs And Cats In Toronto

Has your pet been unusually tired lately?

Are they showing an unwillingness to exercise in ways they usually enjoy?

Are they collapsing or having fainting spells?

Is their heart rate or breath elevated, even at rest?

If so, it’s possible your pet is dealing with a cardiovascular disorder.

Bickford Park Animal Hospital can help.

What Is Veterinary Cardiology?

Veterinary cardiology is a branch of veterinary medicine that deals with cardiovascular disorders in cats and dogs. This includes the heart and blood vessels. It also has some overlap with chest and lung diseases, since their functions are closely related to your pet’s heart.

The veterinarians at Bickford Park Animal Hospital are trained in veterinary cardiology and may be able to diagnose your pet’s cardiovascular issues.

Cat And Dog Cardiovascular Diseases

Because of their similarity to the human cardiovascular system, dogs and cats can suffer from many of the same heart diseases we do. These include:

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Hypertension
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy

What Causes Canine Heart Disease?

In many cases, your dog may have inherited a heart condition from their parents. This is especially the case for certain breeds, which are generally at greater risk for cardiovascular disorders. These include:

  • Boxers
  • Poodles
  • Great Danes
  • Cavalier King Charles spaniels
  • Cocker spaniels
  • Doberman pinschers
  • Pekingese
  • Boston terriers

Old age can also increase your dog’s risk of heart disease, as can injury and infections.

What Causes Feline Heart Disease?

Heart disease in cats often manifests itself at birth, and is passed on from their parents. This type of heart disease most commonly shows up as a heart defect.

The most common defects are either a malformed heart valve, or a malformed wall that divides the left and right sides of the heart. It’s a good idea to have your kitten checked by your veterinarian to spot these heart disorders at an early age.

They can’t be cured, but you can still take measures to help your pet live a healthier, happier life in spite of their condition.

Feline heart disease can also be acquired later in life, though. Old age is a factor, as is injury and infection.

Diagnosing Heart Disease In Pets

If your vet suspects your cat or dog is dealing with heart disease, there are a number of tools at their disposal they can use to make a diagnosis.

Your vet will likely start with a physical exam. They’ll listen to your pet’s heart and lungs, checking for unusual patterns in breathing and rhythm. They may also test your pet’s blood pressure using a similar device to the one your medical doctor will use on you at your annual checkup.

If these simpler tests make your vet suspicious, they may use an ultrasound or x-ray scan to get a closer look at your pet’s heart chambers and valves, as well as where it’s positioned in their chest.

Your vet may use an EKG machine to diagnose a heart murmur.

After all that, a blood analysis can also be helpful to assess your pet’s overall health. For the most complex cases, your veterinarian may also recommend referral to a specialist veterinary cardiologist.

Symptoms Of Feline Or Canine Cardiovascular Disorders

If your pet is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, they may have an underlying heart condition. It’s a good idea to contact Bickford Park Animal Hospital to book an appointment.

Loss Of Appetite

As you likely know, your pet loves to eat. All pets do. And when they aren’t eating, it should always be concerning to pet owners. Loss of appetite on its own could mean many different things, but combined with the other symptoms below it may mean heart disease.

Unexpected Weight Fluctuations

Unexplained weight loss can be a sign of heart disease due to reduced blood flow. Weight gain can be a sign as well, generally manifesting in the form of a distended abdomen.

Difficulty Breathing

It may be surprising that laboured breathing is a sign of heart disease, but your pet’s lungs and heart are closely connected. If your pet has difficulty breathing, or is panting like they just exercised, contact your vet.


Everyone coughs, and your pet is no different. A regular cough from a cold or mild illness will go away within a few days, but if it lasts any longer it may be a sign of heart disease


If your pet loses consciousness at any time, contact your veterinarian right away. There are a number of reasons why they might do that, and none of them are positives. It may be a sign of heart disease.

Abnormal swelling

If your pet shows swelling in their belly or legs, it could be a sign of heart disease

Behavioural Changes

Changes in behaviour that can indicate heart concerns may include withdrawing or rejecting affection, reluctance to play in ways they’d normally enjoy, weakness, restlessness, or depression-like symptoms.

Veterinary Treatments For Cat And Dog Heart Disease

While there is no cure for heart disease in cats and dogs, there are treatments available that may help manage the symptoms and improve your pet’s quality of life.

These include pharmaceutical medications that can decrease your pet’s heart’s workload and relax the heart muscle. Giving your pet’s heart more time to fill with blood and pump it out can help to avoid failure.

There are also situations where a heart condition is related to another condition which is treatable. In these cases, offering treatment for these conditions may alleviate your pet’s heart disease symptoms.

The sooner your veterinarian can see your pet, though, the better their chances are of enjoying a higher quality of life. If left untreated, heart disease can be deadly.

Contact Bickford Park Animal Hospital

If you suspect your pet may have a heart condition, contact Bickford Park Animal Hospital right away. Your veterinarian will work to diagnose your pet’s condition and offer a treatment plan designed to help your pet enjoy a higher quality of life.

Contact Bickford Park Animal Hospital to book your appointment today.