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Cardiac Care for Pets How to Keep Little Hearts Humming by Dr. Shawn Messonnier


ymptoms that suggest a dog or cat’s heart is not pumping effec- tively include coughing and fatigue

from light exercise. Before the signs are evident, it is far better to check for heart disease during regular twice-yearly visits to the veterinarian. Using a stethoscope, a skilled doctor can pick up telltale heart murmurs during the examination. A fairly common problem with cats, heart disease tends to occur as cardiomy- opathy, an issue with the heart muscle. In most dogs, where cardiomyopathy is rare, it usually involves damaged heart valves, resulting in “leaks” that allow blood to flow in both directions. Upon an initial diagnosis of heart disease, one of two mistakes in treat- ment routinely occur: Either a doctor prescribes strong cardiac medications to “prevent” heart failure from happen- ing (even though no medication has been shown to prevent heart failure), or he takes a wait-and-see approach, only intervening when the disease progress- es to irreversible heart failure. The better approach is to do fur-

ther testing and evaluation at the first sign of a murmur, including chest X-

32 Hudson County

rays, an electrocardiogram (EKG) and a cardiac ultrasound to classify the stage of the disease and determine if conven- tional medications can help. Follow-up visits every six months allow the doctor to identify the point at which heart dis- ease has progressed toward impending heart failure.

In general, pets with either a dis- eased or failing heart can benefit from supplements. Individual regimens vary, based on the nature of the patient’s case.


Fish oil contains beneficial docosa- hexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosa- pentaenoic acid (EPA) unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. The principle metabolites derived from the metabo- lism of EPA and DHA tend to be anti- inflammatory.

Contrariwise, omega-6 fatty acids, which are found in warm-weather vegetable oils, produce pro-inflamma- tory mediators. Because omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids compete with each other to be converted to active me- tabolites (pro-inflammatory and anti- inflammatory) in the body, decreasing

the intake of omega-6 fatty acids and/ or increasing dietary omega-3 fatty acid levels, available through fish oil, is generally considered beneficial. The differing numbers identifying omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids simply refer to where the carbon-carbon double bonds are positioned in the molecules. Supplementing with fish oil may also reduce the occurrence of athero- sclerosis, thrombosis, coronary heart disease, arrhythmias, heart failure and sudden cardiac death by decreasing inflammation throughout the body, including in the heart.

ubiquinol or ubiquinone, is a naturally

Coenzyme Q-10 Coenzyme Q10

(CoQ10 ), also known as

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