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Dogs and cats can also suffer from cardiac issues

Another great article from Animal Wellness Magazine!


It’s not just a human condition. Dogs and cats can also suffer from cardiac issues.

When Jonathan took his seven-year-old boxer cross, Carlyle, to a friend’s house for a visit, he had no inkling it would be his dog’s last trip. While the friends were chatting over dinner, Carlyle suddenly collapsed. Jonathan rushed him to an emergency vet, but Carlyle died before they arrived. It turned out to be heart failure. Stunned and devastated, Jonathan made it his mission to research all he could about canine heart disease before adopting another dog.

As in Carlyle’s case, heart disease in companion animals is often a silent killer. By the time a dog or cat shows classic symptoms like lethargy, wheezing, croupy coughing (a liquid sounding cough) or exercise intolerance, the disease is often far advanced. And since an enlarged heart can’t be detected with a stethoscope, heart disease can be present and undiagnosed by your veterinarian long before your dog or cat shows clinical symptoms of illness.

Cardiomyopathy is the scientifi c term for a diseased heart muscle. “Cardio” means heart, “myo” is the Latin word for muscle, and “pathy” means disease. There are different types of cardiomyopathy, including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, restrictive cardiomyopathy, and unclassified cardiomyopathy.

Dogs most often develop dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), typically between the ages of four and ten. DCM describes a diseased heart muscle that doesn’t contract or pump efficiently. As the disease progresses, the heart chambers become enlarged, heart valves may leak, and congestive heart failure can develop.

The cause is unknown. Unlike heart muscle dysfunction in humans, when it happens in animals, it’s rarely the result of chronic coronary artery disease. Nutritional deficiencies of taurine or carnitine have been linked to DCM in certain breeds. Once in a while, DCM-like heart muscle deficiency develops secondary to an identifiable cause like exposure to a toxin or heart infection.

Male dogs seem to develop DCM more often than female dogs. And certain breeds, often larger ones, are more prone to the condition, including the Afghan hound, boxer, cocker spaniel, Doberman pinscher, great Dane, Irish wolfhound, Saint Bernard, and Scottish deerhound.

Symptoms of DCM
Early in the disease process, there are often no obvious symptoms. Some dogs may experience a reduction in exercise tolerance. Sometimes a slight heart murmur or other abnormal heart sounds or rhythms can be detected by a veterinarian.

As the disease progresses, the heart’s ability to pump declines, so blood pressure in the veins behind the heart can increase. Congestion of the lungs and fluid accumulation are common, and indicate heart failure. Dogs with DCM-induced heart failure often have left-sided congestive failure.

Symptoms you might notice include a decreased ability to exercise, rapid tiring, increased respiration, and excessive panting and coughing. There may be sudden and recurring episodes of weakness or fainting. Some dogs with DCM have enlarged abdomens and heavy breathing due to fluid accumulation.

Sudden death can also occur from heart rhythm disturbances, even though there aren’t obvious external signs of heart disease. Advanced signs of heart failure include labored breathing, reluctance to lie down, and an inability to get comfortable. A worsening cough, reduced activity level, loss of appetite, as well as collapse, can all be symptoms.

Treatment Options
Treating dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs focuses on improving heart function and treating symptoms of congestive heart failure.

Conventionally, ACE inhibitors are often prescribed to slow down the progressive changes to the heart that can lead to heart failure. As the disease progresses, different drugs can be used to help the heart contract. Drugs can be administered to slow down a rapid heart rate, to manage accumulation of fluid in the lungs, or to dilate blood vessels. There are also drugs that can help the heart beat and pump more efficiently.

Unfortunately, side effects from these drugs are very common and can include electrolyte imbalances, reduced appetite, diarrhea and vomiting, depression, a drop in blood pressure, and kidney disease. And because the disease is irreversible and heart failure is typically progressive, the drugs and dosages required to manage DCM usually increase over time.

Alternative therapies that can support heart function in dogs with DCM include herbs such as hawthorn berry and cayenne. Supplements can also be very beneficial, and include acetyl L-carnitine, the amino acid taurine, arginine, D-ribose, Omega-3 fatty acids, and ubiquinol, the more bio-available form of CoQ10.

Alternative therapies that can support heart function in dogs with DCM include herbs such as hawthorn berry and cayenne.

In cats, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common type of primary heart disease, accounting for 85% to 90% of all cases. It is often inherited; in fact, there’s now a test available for a specific gene mutation in Maine coons and ragdolls. Purebred cats such as Persians, other Oriental breeds, and American shorthairs are also predisposed to HCM. However, it’s the regular housecat that is most commonly diagnosed with the condition. Cats usually develop HCM in midlife, but it can occur at any age.
The word “hypertrophic” means thickened, so HCM is a condition in which the walls and ventricles of the heart become too thick, or hypertrophied. The severity of the condition depends on how thick the muscle wall gets. As HCM progresses, the actual structure of the heart changes and heart function is affected. Thickened muscle walls become less flexible, and the left ventricle can no longer relax or stretch efficiently to fill with blood.

In rare cases, the thickening of the heart causes an arrhythmia that can bring on sudden death. Some cats develop feline aortic thromboembolism, also called FATE, which is a blood clot that forms in the aorta and blocks the flow of blood, usually to the back legs. This causes sudden paralysis, a tremendous amount of pain for the cat, and even death.
Symptoms of HCM
Symptoms vary and depend to some extent on the severity of the disease. Cats with mild disease don’t always have symptoms. But in a cat with significant HCM, there are usually obvious signs.
Cats mask illness very well, so until this condition is severe, even a cat with significant disease may have no symptoms, or very mild symptoms that don’t seem to be indicative of heart disease.

In cats with obvious symptoms, there can be respiratory distress caused by congestive heart failure, or leg paralysis due to a blood clot. Cats suffering congestive heart failure don’t cough like people or dogs do. Instead, they tend to breathe through an open mouth, and may even pant, especially during exertion.
Treatment options
There is no cure for HCM. However, if the heart problem has developed as a result of another underlying issue, treatment of the primary disease can result in partial or complete resolution
of the HCM.
Diuretics and ACE inhibitors are used in mainstream medicine to treat congestive heart failure in cats. In cases of severe fluid buildup in the chest cavity, it may be necessary to remove the fluid with a catheter.

Drugs to reduce the likelihood of blood clots are sometimes used on HCM patients at risk for thromboembolism. These drugs must be closely monitored to prevent hemorrhage, and there’s no guarantee that clots won’t form even with the medications. I much prefer using a natural supplement called nattokinase to reduce the risk of blood clots.

I’ve had excellent success in slowing the disease by using a combination of ubiquinol (the reduced form of CoQ10) and certain amino acids, including taurine, L-arginine, and acetyl L-carnitine. I also use heart glandulars and herbs, including hawthorn.

Because heart disease in dogs and cats is often insidious and difficult to detect, it’s not easy to determine whether or not your companion will develop it. However, there are things you can do to help protect his health (see sidebar) and keep him by your side!

What can you do?

  1. A healthy lifestyle and regular veterinary checkups are vital, especially if you have a higher-risk breed.
  2. Diet is extremely important – a balanced, fresh food, meat-based diet rich in naturally-occurring amino acids, and free of all fillers such as grains and unnecessary carbohydrates, is the best form of nutrition for animals that have cardiomyopathy or might be prone to it.
  3. Be watchful for any uncharacteristic symptoms such as lethargy, easy tiring, and breathing issues, even if they seem subtle, and get your animal examined by the vet as soon as possible.
  4. Talk to an integrative or holistic veterinarian about supplements that could help keep your dog or cat’s heart healthy.

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What If My Petsitter Gets Sick While I Am Out of Town?

So I hired a professional pet sitter to take care of my furry family while I am out of town, but what happens if my petsitter gets sick or has an emergency and is no loner available to take care of my pets?

This is a great question and any family hiring a pet sitter should ask this question during the interview and/or consultation!  Please visit http://www.petsit.com for more questions you should ask when interviewing a potential pet sitter.


All pet sitters/petsitting companies should have a backup plan in place.  This means the company should have two keys to your residence.  One is with your primary sitter and the other is kept on file at the office in case of emergencies.  The pet sitter or pet sitting company should also have routine notes about the assignment and the pets on file in case the primary sitter is unavailable to give a backup sitter instructions on the pets and the routine.  All pet sitters should also have ICE information on their person or phone in case of an accident/emergency.  All professional emergency personnel are trained to look for this information when a person is unable to communicate.  The pet sitter should list the pet sitting office or a backup sitters’ information under ICE (In Case of Emergency).


If the sitter is able to communicate they should call their backup or the pet sitting company’s main office to let them know there has been an accident and they need a backup sitter to care for their assigned pets.  The office or backup sitter would collect the assignment information and backup key from the office.  The backup sitter would take care of the furry kids until the primary sitter was available again.  If the sitter were unable to communicate the emergency personnel would contact the ICE numbers listed and inform the office of the incident.  The office would invoke the backup plan.


We hope they do!  We always have a backup plan, and a third person on standby just in case!

Always ask a potential pet sitter about their backup plan, it could be the most important question during the interview!

Thank you to Jay Heintz with League City Chiropractic and Sports Medicine for asking this great question!

Trisha Stetzel

Owner, Fetch! Pet Care of Clear Lake



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Pets’ Mental Health Improves With a Little Extra Attention | petMD

it is amazing how little time is required for petting to make a big difference in their stress levels. At the 2014 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Symposium researchers presented an abstract synopsis of a yet to be published study of 15-minute petting sessions with shelter dogs.

via Pets’ Mental Health Improves With a Little Extra Attention | petMD.

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Boarding My Dog vs. Pet Sitting, Which is best?

Should I board my dog or use a pet sitter?

This question comes up often and well, it depends.


Boarding My Dog
Boarding can be the best option for a dog that has separation anxiety and bad habits when left alone for a few hours at a time. Maybe your dog needs the social aspect of boarding – this is important too!  Choosing the right boarding facility for you and your dog can take some time so start early. You should visit all of the facilities your might be interested in and talk with the kennel manager about routines, feeding, etc. Many boarding facilities now how suites with televisions, special play time, and many other great additions to keep your pup happy while you are away.

"I am so happy to see you!"

“I am so happy to see you!”

In Home Pet Sitting
This option could be best for the doggie that likes to be home (even when you are not) in his own environment, pee in his own backyard, eat out of his own bowls, and take long walks with his favorite dog sitter! When choosing a pet sitter, be sure to ask for credentials. Are they insured and bonded? Are they trained in basic pet care, first aid & CPR? Will they take the time to provide a consultation to meet you and your pets before you leave town to make sure there is a good dog-sitter match? Again you will need to spend time talking with and interviewing pet sitting companies to find the right one. A great place to start is on the Pet Sitters International website http://www.petsit.com. Here you will find sitters in your area and questions you should be asking during the interview process. A pet sitter can also be a great added asset to keeping an eye on your home while you are away. Not only will they take care of and play with Fido, but they will typically bring in your mail, newspapers, rotate the lights and blinds, water your plants, AND keep an eye on your pool!

In the end it’s your decision to make in your dog’s best interest. Do they go to camp for the weekend or stay home and party with the sitter? :-)

Trisha Stetzel
Owner, Fetch! Pet Care of Clear Lake

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The Power of Pumpkin for your Pets!

This great article and recipe brought to you by Animal Wellness Magazine and Michelle Dixon, the Health and Nutrition Specialist with Petcurean Pet Nutrition

Best known for its use as Halloween jack-o-lanterns or Thanksgiving pie filling, the pumpkin is a fruit that belongs to the same family as melons and cucumbers.

All parts of the pumpkin have nutritional value, including the leaves and rinds, which contain protein and fiber and are often used medicinally.

Here are 10 ways pumpkin can benefit your pet:

Pumpkin seeds are a great source of protein, carbohydrates and fiber. Roast the seeds and then grind them up. Do not add salt.
Pumpkin flesh contains soluble fiber, which helps slows digestion, and can help manage diarrhea by absorbing water.
Alternatively, pumpkin also helps with constipation due to its high fiber and water content.
Pumpkin is great for “bulking up” your animal’s food. Most animals don’t require large quantities of pumpkin, and at only 34 calories per 100 grams, the benefits far outweigh the few extra calories.
Pumpkin flesh contains vitamin A, which is important for vision health.
The flesh also contains vitamin C, which boosts the immune system.
Dogs with joint problems need more vitamin C than they produce naturally, and pumpkin is a good source.
Since pumpkin slows digestion, it also helps with weight loss, since your pet will feel fuller for longer.
Pumpkin slows the aging process with its bountiful antioxidant beta-carotene.
The zinc in pumpkin will help improve skin and coat.
Use either canned unsalted pumpkin or cook your own and freeze it in ice cube trays. Or look for pet foods that include pumpkin as an ingredient – examples include Petcurean’s NOW FRESH line.

For treats, try this recipe:

DIY Pumpkin Treats

2 eggs

½ cup canned pumpkin

2 tablespoons dry milk

2 and 1/8 cups chickpea flour (high in protein!)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Blend eggs and pumpkin; add dry milk and flour. Add water as needed to make dough workable – it should be dry and stiff. Roll to ½” thick and cut into shapes. Place 1” apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes on one side, then turn over and bake another 20 minutes.

*Try to use organic and local ingredients whenever possible.

Michelle Dixon is the Health and Nutrition Specialist with Petcurean Pet Nutrition.

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The Most Personal Blog Post You Will Ever Read From Me… How do you know when to stop doing CPR on your dog or cat?

Fetch! Pet Care of Clear Lake:

This is a beautiful story written by a great friend of mine about one of her best four-legged friends. Totally worth the time to read!

Originally posted on Dallas Pet CPR & First Aid Education:

(Long post, but worth every word!)

Simple Answer: You don’t unless you’re forced too.

Ask anyone who has been in the position of the “rescuer” performing the adrenaline pumping whirlwind procedure of CPR on a beloved pet and they will tell you how incredibly time-altering it is.

Although I have told this story in my classes, this will be the first time since that fateful day that I have told his story in the written word and the first time telling complete strangers on social media. I promise that although this pains me to write, even in brief detail, I do not want you to cry with me… I tell you his story so that you can learn from him… Our mission to change and improve pet’s lives will live on through his story…

ElvisThe Story of Burt

Burt was unique to say the least.

Burt was utterly amazing to…

View original 1,491 more words


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