Health Issues You Might Not Realize Your Pet Has

Heart Disease

Heart disease isn’t the leading cause of death in dogs or cats, but it’s not uncommon either. It's been estimated that approximately 10 percent of dogs develop heart disease, and valvular disease accounts for the majority of these cases. Dogs may also develop dilated cardiomyopathy.

Cats of any age can develop hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The disease doesn’t discriminate: It affects alley cats and aristocats alike.

Signs of heart disease in your dog or cat that your veterinarian may detect during an exam can include a heart murmur, gray or bluish gums, noisy breathing and fluid buildup in the abdomen or lungs. It’s not curable, but it can sometimes be managed for months or even years with medication, especially when caught early.


Pain isn’t a disease, of course, but it accompanies many different diseases at all stages of life. Arthritis, dental disease, cancer, injuries and more can all cause pain in our pets, but we have to be really on the ball to notice it sometimes.

Pets are hardwired not to signal that they’re in pain. In the wild, showing pain could be a death warrant. They don’t know, of course, that we just want to help, so they do their best to hide discomfort, making it more difficult for us to realize there’s a problem.

With the laying on of hands through palpation and range-of-motion tests, as well as through recognizing subtle signs, such as a hunched back or an owner's comments that Rusty is sleeping more, eating less or not jumping up on the sofa anymore, we can often pinpoint pain that your dog or cat is doing his darnedest to hide. He may need a dental cleaning, a weight loss program or medication to take the edge off those aching joints or reduce disease-related pain.

Next time you’re thinking of skipping or postponing your pet’s wellness exam — maybe you don’t go every year yourself — keep in mind that he ages more quickly than you and can’t speak up if he’s not feeling well. Then call your veterinarian and make that appointment. Whether you catch a problem before it’s far advanced or find out your pet is fit as a fiddle, you’ll both benefit.

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