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Enfield Veterinary Hospital
94 Coronation Parade
Enfield, NSW, 2136

enfieldvet@bigpond.com.au
Phone: 02 9747 3999

To All the Friends of Enfield Vet and their Pets,

The main focus of this newsletter is heart disease. Heart disease is a very common complaint in both dogs and cats. It may have a slow, insidious onset with signs like coughing or decreased exercise tolerance or sometimes it may have a sudden onset with acute respiratory problems and collapse.

This newletter discusses the things to look out for if you suspect heart disease in your pet (or if the vet has previously discussed with you that your pet has a heart murmur).

A further article goes on to discuss the recent EPIC trial examining dogs with heart murmurs and determining the best treatment plans for these pets. The EPIC trial conclusively recommends that all dogs with heart murmurs should be screened (with xrays and an ultrasound) every 12 months to check for heart enlargement even before any signs of heart failure appear. If the tests deem it appropriate, we can now start dogs on medication which impedes the progression of heart failure and allows for dogs to live longer - by up to 1.5 years!!! These tests can be performed on site by the vets at Enfield Vet Hospital - so if you know your dog has a heart murmur and has not been screened please call us to discuss or to book in a screening procedure.

As always, contact us here at the hospital if you have questions regarding this newsletter or any other issues with your pets.

The Team at Enfield Veterinary Hospital

Contents of this newsletter

01  Recognising a broken heart

02  This study was EPIC!

03  A healthy mouth equals a healthy heart

04  Why heartworm prevention is so important

05  If cats sent Valentine's Day cards

01 Recognising a broken heart

We're not talking about a broken heart from lost love here but instead heart disease.

Most of the signs of heart disease are related to a decrease in the function of the heart. The signs can be subtle and sometimes hard to detect. Being able to recognise some of the early signs of this disease can make a big difference for your pet. It means we can initiate medical treatment and in most cases, ease the workload on the heart, meaning your pet will live a longer and healthier life.

Look out for these signs:

+ Coughing, especially at night

+ A reluctance to exercise and tiring more easily on walks

+ Laboured or fast breathing

+ Weakness or fainting associated with exercise

+ An enlarged abdomen

+ Weight loss or poor appetite

This example of why at least an annual check-up with us is important. We will always listen to your pet's heart as part of any physical exam and this allows us to detect any changes early. Sometimes we will hear a murmur (abnormal blood flow) or an arrhythmia (irregular rhythm). These may be reason for us to perform more tests such as x-rays, ultrasound and an ECG.

There are some excellent medications available to help a pet suffering from heart disease and the good news is that these can help your pet live a longer and near normal life.

If you are ever worried about your pet's health, you should call us for advice. 

02 This study was EPIC!

Recent groundbreaking research into canine heart disease is changing the way we treat one of the most common heart conditions.

It is estimated that one dog in ten may suffer from some type of heart disease and there it's a particular type of heart disease called mitral valve disease that can lead to congestive heart failure, reduced quality of life and an overall shortened lifespan.

The EPIC (Evaluation of Pimobendan In dogs with Cardiomegaly) Study was the largest veterinary cardiology study in history. This groundbreaking study set out to answer a key question: Can a particular drug (pimobendan) delay the onset of congestive heart failure (CHF) in dogs with mitral valve disease?

The study, which began in 2010 and ran through to 2015, included investigators at 36 study centres in 11 nations across 4 continents. Investigators were held to rigorous scientific standards, and an independent team compiled and reported the findings.

The results concluded that dogs who received pimobendan experienced a 15-month delay in onset of clinical signs of CHF, cardiac-related death, or euthanasia. Some have described these results as 'epic' (pardon the pun!)

And the best news is that with x-rays and an ultrasound of the heart, along with the guidelines from the results of this study, we are now able to determine which of our patients with mitral valve disease will benefit from medication and which can be placed on a monitoring program. This means we can help your pet live a longer and healthier life.

If you have any questions about the management of heart disease or anything to do with your pet's health, we are always here to help.

03 A healthy mouth equals a healthy heart

Did you know that if your pet is suffering from dental disease they may be at risk of heart disease too?

When dental disease strikes, plaque and tartar that accumulate on the teeth lead to infection of the gums. Bacteria from this infection travel in the bloodstream around the body and can cause infection in the heart. This commonly occurs in the heart's lining and valves and is known as endocarditis. 

And it's not only the heart that is affected; the kidneys, liver and lungs can all be damaged by the bacteria.

Thankfully many of these problems can be reversed if dental disease is treated and the health of your pet's mouth is improved. 

Top tips for the prevention of dental disease

1. Lift your pet's lip and have a look and a smell. If you notice any yellowing of the teeth or redness of the gums OR your pet's breath smells a bit 'off', it is time for a checkup with us.

2. Regardless of whether you think something's not quite right, get your pet's mouth checked regularly by us. The earlier we spot an issue the better the outcome. Dental checkups at least once a year should be non-negotiable. 

3. Get your pet eating the right diet. It's essential that our pets chew their food! There are some excellent dental diets available and they work really well so ask us for the best recommendation.

4. Brush your pet's teeth. This is considered gold standard but just make sure you use a pet-approved toothpaste.

Don't be tempted by offers of 'anaesthesia free dentistry." This somewhat 'shonky' form of teeth cleaning is simply cosmetic and it fails to address the root of the problem (removing the plaque and tartar and subsequent bacteria from under the gum-line). You can read more information about this here.

We recommend a dental check-up at least once a year. Call us to book your pet in for a dental check-up today as you might be improving the health of their heart too. 

04 Why heartworm prevention is so important

How many pesky mosquitoes have you seen this summer? Here's some food for thought: wherever there are mosquitoes, there is the risk of heartworm disease for your pet!

Heartworm is a dangerous worm, and when an infected mosquito feeds on your pet's blood, the heartworm larvae enter the bloodstream. The scary part is that these larvae mature into worms that can reach up to 30cm in length.

The worms mature in the bloodstream and eventually become lodged in your pet's heart leading to heart failure. It is at this point that the disease can be fatal. Dogs are more commonly affected by heartworm disease but cats may also be at risk.

The prevalence of heartworm in Australia has been mainly in tropical and subtropical coastal regions but in recent decades it has become increasingly prevalent in more southern areas.

The take-home point is that with changing weather patterns and subsequent alterations in the distribution of mosquito populations, heartworm disease can be unpredictable. This is why prevention is SO important as we just don't know where it might strike next.

Prevention of heartworm is far better than an attempt at a cure but it's important to realise that not all heartworm prevention is the same so it's best to ask us what is the best prevention for your pet.

Most importantly, you need to be aware that many of the intestinal 'all-wormer' tablets do not prevent against heartworm infection.

There are topical treatments, oral treatments and a yearly injection for dogs. Ask us for the most suitable prevention for your pet - we will make sure your pet is suitably protected.

05 If cats sent Valentine's Day cards

It's Valentine's Day this month and while it may not be everyone's cup of tea, we think this take on the whole event is pretty funny. If you click here you'll find '14 Valentine's Day cards you could only get from a cat.'

And we definitely DO NOT recommend giving your cat any of the favourite toys from card #14! They are all potentially dangerous if ingested by your cat!