Investigating heart disease
Heart disease is extremely common in small pets. Often it is quite straightforward to establish that an animal has heart disease (if, for example, a murmur is present). However the fact that your pet has abnormalities in the heart does not necessarily mean that they require (or will ever require) treatment. Heart disease and heart failure are NOT the same thing. In the early stages of heart disease most animals are able to cope although their heart is not working as well as normal. Animals can live with some forms of heart disease without showing any signs of illness at all. Heart failure occurs when the heart disease is more severe and signs of malfunction (usually coughing or breathlessness) develop.
It is important that your vet can recognise the early stages of heart failure (and therefore when to begin therapy). Investigations of animals with heart disease are important to identify early signs of failure and to establish the appropriate timing and type of therapy.