American Heart Month - Heart Disease in Humans and Pets

February 2018

Heart disease is the #1 cause of death for humans both in the U.S. and globally.  Practitioners in both human medicine and veterinary medicine are working diligently to raise public awareness of cardiovascular disease. Regular checkups for both humans and pets could easily spot the early warning signs of heart disease in humans, dogs and cats.

The correlation between both human and pet interaction is strong:  

  • Prevention and lifestyles are key. Risk factors must remain low and can include ownership of pets.
  • Pets provide a positive effect on stress levels, blood pressure and emotional well-being.
  • Dog ownership lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality according to an article published in Scientific Reports in November 2017.

Tips for protection from heart disease for people and pets, from the American Heart Association and CVCA Cardiac Care for Pets include:

Get Moving, Get Active

  • Humans - Aim for 150 minutes of physical activity per week (that’s only 21 minutes per day!)  You don’t have to do it alone- group classes and buddy activities can make work out time a lot more fun.
  • Dogs - Dogs love being active too so bring them along on your walk!  It passes the time and is a great way to bond with your pet and help keep them active too.
  • Cats -  Feline friends need to be active as well, so finding interactive toys to play with your cat helps them stay fit!

Healthy Eating, Helps Maintain Optimal Weight

  • Humans - Small eating habit changes can make a big difference! Look for ways to lower sodium and trans fat, and add more fruits and vegetables daily.
  • Dogs - Good nutrition is key for pets as well!  Visit this website for veterinary nutritionist recommendations
  • Cats -  Help your feline avoid fat cat syndrome -  overweight patients with and without heart disease that successfully lose weight have an easier time breathing and are more comfortable.

Quit tobacco, for good

  • Humans - Smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products affects nearly every organ in your body, including your heart. Quitting can be tough, but it can be easier when you feel supported. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) today or start with Tips from Former Smokers® 
  • Dogs - Second hand smoke affects pets, too.  Pets who breathe secondhand smoke are more likely to get pneumonia, bronchitis, and poor lung function.  
  • Cats - Feline asthma is a big problem in cats and patient symptoms can definitely be worsened by second hand smoke.

Common Heart Attack Warning Signs in Humans

  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
  • Lightheadedness, nausea or vomiting
  • Jaw, neck or back pain
  • Discomfort or pain in arm or shoulder
  • Shortness of breath

10 Signs of Heart Disease in Dogs and Cats

  • Persistent Cough
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Fainting/Collapsing
  • Abdominal Swelling/Distention
  • Less Tolerance to Exercise
  • Heart Murmur
  • Change in Heart Rate
  • Change in Body Weight
  • Restless or Hiding
  • Loss of Appetite

To learn more about CVCA Cardiac Care for Pets, visit  And for humans, visit the American Heart Association at


  5. Dog ownership and the risk of cardiovascular disease and death – a nationwide cohort study.  Mwenya Mubanga, Liisa Byberg, et al  Scientific Reports volume 7, Article number: 15821
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