About 10% of all dogs have heart disease.
Most importantly, the incidence of heart disease increases dramatically with age. The incidence of heart disease increases to more than 60% in aged dogs. This is particularly the case in dogs with valvular heart disease:
- About 10% of dogs between the ages of 5 and 8 years are
- 20-25% of dogs between the ages of 9 and 12 years are affected
- 30-35% of dogs more than 13 years are affected
- 75% of dogs over 16 years are affected
Many cats with heart disease are asymptomatic, showing no sign of their disease until the abnormality within the heart causes the heart to fail and not function normally.
There are many types of heart disease that can affect cats.
One of the most common complications of heart failure is fluid build-up within the lungs. This is known as congestive heart failure. It occurs because the heart is no longer able to function as an efficient pump. Occasionally, fluid may build up in the abdomen and in the legs also.
The signs seen in cats suffering from congestive heart failure include:
- Decreased appetite
- Difficulty breathing
- Increased respiratory rate
- Increased respiratory effort
- Cyanosis (a purple coloration of the gums), if the heart failure is severe enough to cause inadequate levels of oxygen to reach the body
- Bloated, fluid-filled abdomen
- Swelling of the legs
Unlike in dogs, where coughing is frequently a sign of heart disease, in feline heart disease coughing is rare. Vomiting or dry heaving is sometimes seen as a sign of heart disease in cats though.