February is not only heart health month for us, but also for our pets as well.

Dr. David Israel, Medical Director for Veterinary Emergency Group in Boulder shares some common symptoms of heart failure in dogs and cats:

  • Frequent coughing is often the first sign many pet owners notice in their dogs and cats with heart failure. The type of coughing associated with heart failure is usually dry, although some pets may cough up foam with or without blood in it.
  • Pacing and Restlessness – Dogs are more prone to pacing and restlessness from heart failure than cats, although both may experience this symptom. Pets may pace because they are in pain from their heart failure or because the secondary symptoms associated with heart failure are causing discomfort.
  • Trouble Breathing – As heart failure progresses, pets will have more and more difficulty breathing. You may notice your pet’s sides heaving in and out more when she breathes, or you may hear her wheezing in her sleep or otherwise at rest. She may also pant or breathe with her mouth open more often.
  • Swollen Abdomen – In later stages of heart failure, some pets may experience a swollen stomach. This symptom is due to the buildup of fluid in the body from the weakening of the heart. Although pets may still live for some time with a swollen abdomen, it is a sign that they have entered the last stages of heart failure.
  • Lethargy and Weakness – Other common symptoms of heart failure in dogs and cats are lethargy and weakness. Lethargy and weakness are both associated with a wide range of health problems in both cats and dogs. However, if your pet becomes weak or lethargic along with other specific symptoms on this list, then heart failure may be the underlying cause.
  • Fainting or Collapsing – Finally, fainting or collapsing may occur along with heart failure in some pets. These symptoms are more common in dogs than cats, but they can happen in cats as well. If your pet suddenly faints or collapses and you know she has heart failure, you may not choose to take her to the vet, depending on the end of life plan you have for her.

Make sure to take your pets in for those yearly check-ups to keep them healthy and thriving.