Sunday, December 21, 2014

Holiday Message from Dr. Jane Bicks

dr. jane bicks - holiday
Photo Courtesy Of Life's Abundance

'The season of giving is upon us once again. Many of us will be spending time with family and friends, and probably doing a bit of frantic last-minute shopping. Although the holidays are a blur of such activities, it’s also the time of year many of us pause to reflect on our own lives, and consider the impact we've had on the lives of others.

As I look back on 2014, I feel truly honored and grateful to be part of a company devoted to the health and well being of companion animals. From our unbeatable customer care providers to our top-notch warehouse workers, from accounting to marketing, and everyone in between, we’re all pet people. It’s not uncommon to see a dog or two in our offices on one of our ‘take your pet to work’ days. Helping companion animals lead healthier, longer and happier lives is not just our company commitment … it’s a personal mission that guides our work every day.

Holiday Message from Dr. Jane Bicks:

I’m amazed by what we have been able to accomplish in the last twelve months. This year alone, we introduced six new products to our pet health line up, including two dental health products and four all-natural buffalo chew treats. And there is so much more on the horizon! In the next couple of months, we’ll launch more products, including two ultra-pure fish oil supplements for companion animals.

Plus, we have a brand new web site! A vast improvement over our old site, it’s so easy to search, which makes our products easier to find. In fact, I can do everything on my smart phone! And, I’m very pleased to say, our blog readership has tripled this year, which means our message is reaching more pet parents than ever before.

I continue to be honored by the accomplishments of our non-profit
- both as its namesake and by the amazing goodness it achieves. Thanks to your continued business and generosity, The Dr. Jane Foundation has been able to help fund the everyday activities of courageous animal rescues across the country. Some may say that putting an end to pet homelessness, abuse and neglect is a pipe dream, but I also know that there’s nothing we can’t do if we put our minds to it.

No matter where you are this holiday season, know that I’m holding you and your pet kids in my heart. I’m thankful of the great privilege that is working on behalf of you and your families, for the trust you place in our company and our products, and for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals.

From all of us here at Life’s Abundance, we wish you and yours a joyous holiday time and good cheer throughout the New Year.'

Holiday Safety for your Fur Family

Courtesy of Life's Abundance:

In this video by Dr. Sarah, she goes over tips and ideas to keep your pets safe this Holiday season.

Amazing tidbits that you may not have thought of.

What plants are toxic to cats..... what candles NOT to use if you have birds .... suggestions about what tree ornaments NOT to use and so much more!

Thank you Dr. Sarah!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Premium Cat Products with Life's Abundance Cat food: Gift Baskets for Dogs and Cats

Premium Cat Products with Life's Abundance Cat food: Gift Baskets for Dogs and Cats: Every year the Life's Abundance Gift baskets are so popular (and go fast) Make sure to get yours today! Dogs will go nuts when they s...

Gift Baskets for Dogs and Cats

Every year the Life's Abundance Gift baskets are so popular (and go fast)
Make sure to get yours today!

Dogs will go nuts when they see and smell what we've added to our holiday gift baskets this year.

In addition to an assortment of all of our baked goodies:

Gourmet Dental Treats
Antioxidant Health Bars
Wholesome Hearts Low-Fat Treats
a 4-oz. bag of Tasty Rewards Training Treats and a
Plush, squeaky toy,  we've also included each of our premium canned foods -
Turkey & Shrimp Breakfast and Chicken & Crab Dinner.

Guaranteed to satisfy canine cravings, each yuletide gift is full of delicious distractions, nestled in a delightful holiday-themed keepsake tray.

Limited quantity. Plush toy may vary.  Click Here Now
Holiday Gift Basket for Dogs

Cats tend to crave more independence than their canine buddies, but that doesn't mean they don't need affection, too! With:

an assortment of toys
Natural Cat Treats for Healthy Skin & Coat
a can of premium Instinctive Choice food plus
a bottle of Wellness Food Supplements

these baskets are a wonderful way to show the cats on your list just how much you care. Guaranteed to satisfy kitty cravings, all of these yuletide goodies are packed in a festive, keepsake tray. 

Limited quantity. Toys may vary. Click here Now

Holiday Gift Basket for Cats

Friday, October 31, 2014

Animal Hoarding

Dr. Jane Bicks, from the Life's Abundance Newsletter - October 2014 writes an awesome article regarding animal hoarding:

Animal hoarding is not just a complicated psychological disorder, it’s a public health danger. Most recently popularized by Animal Planet’s ‘Confessions’, animal hoarding is a growing problem in the U.S. Current estimates put the number of animals trapped every year in hoarding situations at 250,000. Experts believe that many more remain unreported, and thus uncounted. Dogs and cats aren’t the only species ‘collected’ … reptiles, rabbits, birds, rodents, even farm animals may be accumulated by hoarders.

Generally speaking, animal hoarding has two common elements: one, a household with more than the typical number of companion animals and, two, an inability to provide minimal standards of nutrition, shelter, veterinary care and basic sanitation. Sadly, a third aspect can prove even more deadly, with extreme neglect which can result in untreated disease and starvation. Regardless of how bad the situation becomes, hoarders seem unwilling to admit their inability to provide for their animals. In most cases, they remain blind to the horrific conditions of their own creation.

So, what causes a pet parent to become an animal hoarder? New research suggests attachment syndromes are to blame, often in conjunction with other mental disorders … most commonly obsessive compulsive personalities, but also with paranoia, delusional thinking and dementia. Some begin hoarding in the wake of a traumatic event, such as the loss of a close family member. Many view themselves as full-time rescuers, believing that they’re saving animals from pain and hardship. Typically, they have no awareness that they are actually hurting their animals.
Here are some of the warning signs that someone might have a problem with animal hoarding …

• An excessive number of animals in the home and yard. Persons may not even be able to tell you the total number of creatures under their care.
• Home in an obvious state of disrepair (e.g., dirty windows, broken furniture, holes in wall and floor, extreme clutter, etc.).
• Property emanates a strong odor of ammonia. A peek through window reveals floors covered in dried feces, urine, vomit, etc.
• Animals are emaciated, lethargic and poorly socialized.
• Presence of fleas, flies and vermin.
• Individual appears isolated from neighbors and family, exhibits signs of personal neglect.
• Individual insists all animals are happy and healthy, despite clear evidence to the contrary.

Some hoarders go to excessive lengths to hide their secret, going so far as to pose as a legitimate rescue group or animal sanctuary, complete with an approved non-profit tax status. They create elaborate websites, disguising the true circumstances in their homes. To determine whether or not a hoarder is masquerading as a rescue group, here are some things to watch out for …

• Unwillingness to allow visitors or see where the animals live.
• Refusal to disclose the number of animals in its care.
• Additional animals are always welcome, even if many of the current pets are suffering from illnesses or injury.
• Little to no evidence of successful adoptions.
• Animal surrenders generally accepted off-premises, with requests to meet in parking lots, street corners, etc.

If someone you know is an animal hoarder, there are some ways that you can help …
Pick up the phone and call your local animal welfare enforcement agency, police department, animal shelter or veterinarian. They can help to initiate the healing process. You may not want to be the person who gets anyone “in trouble,” but just know that a simple phone call could be the vital first step towards recovery for all involved.
Reassure the animal hoarder that it's okay to accept help. Remind them that everyone gets overwhelmed at some point in their lives. It’s not uncommon for animal hoarders to obsessively worry about their animals. Once they fully comprehend that their animals need urgent medical care, most are willing to take immediate action.
Seek the assistance of social service groups. Animal hoarding is not just about the animals. Agencies specializing in aging populations, adult protective services, health departments and other mental health groups will know best how to get hoarders the help they need.

Volunteer. After hoarding situations are uncovered, the removal of so many animals can be a staggering burden on local shelters. Volunteer your time and/or financial support … whatever you can do to help during the transition phase.

Educate others about the harm a hoarding situation can cause. Animal hoarding has often been portrayed as a harmless eccentricity — for example, the “crazy cat lady”. Members of your community need to be aware of the negative impacts. Who knows … perhaps they’ll be inspired to help other overwhelmed animal caregivers, too!

Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals.

Monday, September 29, 2014

End of Life Discussion

We posted this as well on out sister blog (premium4dogs)

From the September 2014 Life's Abundance Newsletter:

With advances in veterinary medicine in the past 30 years, we now have more tools than ever before to treat disease. As a consequence, dogs and cats are living longer, which means plenty of visits to the vet’s office.

As long as there are no major medical issues to contend with – just wellness checks and treatments for the occasional injury or illness – there’s a pretty low level risk of tension between a vet and a pet parent. But when things go badly, such as with a terminal diagnosis, that risk can escalate dramatically.

Pet parents can often be so uncomfortable thinking about end-of-life care, much less talking it through, that they become defensive when discussing treatments for a terminally ill companion animal. I think it’s because veterinarians are trained to cure disease, and that’s our primary focus. When you present us with a problem, our chief goal is to find a solution. Not every pet parent, however, has the desire or the means to fight terminal conditions to the fullest extent.

The advances in veterinary medicine come with a high price tag, and while aggressive therapies may prolong life, they can prove overly stressful to pet kids and parents alike. If anything prevents open, honest communications between veterinarians and pet parents, it only makes it harder on your dog or cat. You and your vet have a shared goal of caring and comforting a beloved companion animal in a tough spot, so try to see your relationship as a partnership. Some pet parents can have difficulty expressing an unwillingness to pursue aggressive treatment. Some fear appearing callous or uncaring, while others may be embarrassed by financial constraints. It’s our job as veterinarians to provide all the relevant information, to empower you to make the right decision for your set of circumstances.

The last thing you want is any friction between you and your vet, especially when a terminal condition is involved. Such a diagnosis will likely mean loads of interaction, sometimes several times per day. I mean, these are literally life-and-death decisions.

There are some things to keep in mind when discussing the best course of action with your vet, in order to be the best possible advocate for your pet kid during this difficult phase of life.

 Questions & Second Opinions are Good Things

If concerns about quality of life outweigh all other considerations, make sure your veterinarian understands that fact. The benefits and potential disadvantages of each treatment should be crystal clear to you. After the initial diagnosis, write down a list of medical care questions. Reading the blogs of other pet parents who've dealt with similar issues could prove helpful if you don’t know what to ask or where to begin. Hospice care is a relative newcomer to the field of veterinary medicine. In fact, some clinics may not even have a protocol for this option. Even if your vet doesn’t offer these services, they will know who does in your area. If you grow uncomfortable with the options being given to you, don’t be intimidated by, or even feel guilty about seeking a second opinion. It isn't rude or disloyal … it’s an effective method of information gathering.

 Don’t Rush Decisions 

In a typical scenario, testing will yield a diagnosis fairly quickly. When the assessment is presented, be sure to take notes. Trust me, when bad news comes it can have a negative effect on your memory. If the prognosis is poor, but the condition is not an emergency, take all relevant info home and sleep on it for the night. For many, a dire diagnosis comes as quite a shock. Give yourself time to process the information. Many find that 24 hours to mull over and research a condition helps them have a more objective, and less emotionally charged, follow-up conversation.

 Palliative Care is a Valid Treatment Option

Palliative care is the logical choice if the decision’s been made not to pursue restorative treatment for a likely terminal illness. It should not be viewed as giving up, it’s just another valid care option. With extra hydration, pain medication, nausea prevention, and more, it’s a way to ensure a peaceful and humane end of life. The duration is entirely dependent upon the advancement of disease. Palliative plans can last weeks, days or hours, giving people time to say their goodbyes while allowing pet kids to pass naturally and as close to pain-free as possible.

 Be Clear about Your Limits from the Beginning

It is your veterinarian’s job to discuss all of the options available for treatment. A vet may even grade the treatments as ‘good’, ‘better’ or best’. We are trained not to make any assumptions about what measures a pet parent is willing to take. Try to have an open mind about the treatment options. For example, to many, amputation sounds like a devastating prospect. However, many pets cope quite well with the loss of a limb. Chemotherapy can be quite unpleasant for people, but some pet kids don’t experience nausea and they rarely lose their hair. If your vet proposes a treatment option that you find unacceptable, speak up! Tell them what you are willing and unwilling to do. Articulating your preferences will help veterinary care providers tailor a treatment plan according to your needs.

Nothing will make it less painful, but the more we learn about end-of-life care for companion animals, the better equipped we’ll be to handle these situations. Having the confidence that your vet is a compassionate partner for every stage of your pet kid’s life could make a huge difference

Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals.

 Dr Jane Bicks 

Cat Behavior Tips

Courtesy of the Life's Abundance September Newsletter:

Dr. Sarah, staff veterinarian goes over different cat behavior, why, what you can do about it and awesome ways to make homemade toys for your favorite feline (s)!!!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dangers for dogs and cats

Courtesy of Life's Abundance and the August 2014 Newsletter:

We also posted this to our sister blog, premium4dogs

Dangers to cats and dogs:

What do you think are the most common pet poisonings? Rat poison? Insecticides? The Pet Poison Hotline publishes a list of most common poisonings reported in dogs and cats - many of these items are non-toxic to humans but can be deadly to fur babies. In this month’s post, we’ll be taking a look at some of the dangers lurking in your home and how to best to protect your pet kids.

Chocolate: Dark equals dangerous! For dogs, chocolate toxicity can lead to seizures, vomiting, diarrhea and coma. In extreme dosages, chocolate poisoning can even prove fatal. Baking chocolate and dark chocolate are the most deadly.

Xylitol: This common sugar substitute is found in sugar-free gums, candies and many other foods. What many don’t know is that it’s not uncommon in some medications and nasal sprays. Xylitol is toxic to dogs, not cats, and can cause low blood sugar and liver failure.

Over-the-counter medications: Ibuprofen, naproxen and acetaminophen cause gastric ulcers in both dogs and cats. Acetaminophen can even lead to anemia in cats. Cough and cold medications that contain phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine or acetaminophen are also dangerous, as these medications are often formulated in tasty liquids pet kids find irresistible. Never give these medications to your fur kids. Keep them in a high cabinet, well out of reach of pets.

Prescription drugs: ADD and ADHD medications can cause tremors, seizures, heart problems and even death in companion animals. Felines are highly sensitive to antidepressant medications. Cymbalta and Effexor, among others, can cause severe neurological and heart problems.

Rodenticides: Rat poison is just as deadly for dogs as it is for rodents. To make matters worse, dogs love the flavor of the bait. These toxic substances cause fatal internal bleeding and brain swelling.

Grapes or Raisins: While harmless to humans, grapes and raisins contain a substance that can lead to canine kidney failure. The exact source of the problem remains a mystery to veterinary experts.

Oxygen Absorbers: You know those little freshness packets in jerky treats? That’s an oxygen absorber, included to keep foods and treats fresh. Oftentimes, they contain iron, which can be poisonous to pets. Whatever you do, don’t let your fur kids ingest these little packets!

Flea products for dogs are toxic to cats! These products often contain pyrethrins, which can cause feline seizures and tremors. If it says ‘for canine use only’, take that warning to heart!

Household Plants: Lilies are the number one source of toxicity reported in cats. These beautiful house plants cause kitty kidney failure. A good rule of thumb … if you have a cat, don’t keep lilies in your house (or your yard, for that matter). Lilies aren’t the only plants with the potential for harm - philodendrons and pothos can cause oral ulcers and foaming at the mouth.

What to do if your companion animal is poisoned …

1. Take a deep breath and try to remain calm.

2. Remove your companion animal from the area where the poisoning occurred.

3. Make sure your pet kid is breathing and behaving normally. If not, go immediately to the emergency clinic.

4. Contain the poisonous material, preventing additional exposure. Obtain a sample of the questionable material, store in a plastic baggy for preservation and ease of transport. The more evidence you can supply your veterinarian, the more easily they’ll be able to diagnose the problem, and solution.

5. Don’t just hope things will improve on their own … go to a vet for immediate assistance. Call your vet’s office for guidance prior to your visit, or contact the 24-hour Pet Poison Hotline at 800-213-6680 ($35 fee). Make sure to save these numbers on your phone now, so you won’t have to scramble for the numbers later. Do not induce vomiting without the advice of a veterinarian and never give your pet oil, milk, food, salt or anything orally without talking to a veterinarian first.

The prognoses for poisoning are better the sooner it’s reported, so never hesitate to get help as soon as possible. There is a narrow window of time to neutralize most poisons. Immediate treatment could save your pet’s life!

Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals. Dr Jane

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cat/dog Behavior

Courtesy of Life's Abundance June 2014 Newsletter: Great article about dog and cat behavior - answered a few of my own questions :O)
We love our companion animals. But sometimes their actions are mystifying, if not altogether baffling. Fortunately, our own Dr. Jane is on-hand to offer some rationale behind some of the most perplexing pet behaviors.

Why Does My Dog Stare At Me? Dogs stare at their human companions for any number of reasons. Often, it’s because they want something from you: a tasty snack, a walk around the block, an impromptu game of fetch, etc. Dogs can also stare as a form of attention-seeking behavior. Others are simply indicating neediness for human touch, praise or direction. With more perceptive dogs, they may actually be attempting to read an emotion in our facial expressions. Rest assured that in most cases, staring is considered to be a positive behavior, as most trainers encourage dogs to stare at their pet parents. There are instances, however, where staring at a dog can be considered confrontational or a direct challenge (in the wild, canines stare down their challengers). Staring deeply into a canine’s eyes is an activity that should only be engaged within the bounds of a healthy human-dog relationship. If you aren’t sure, don’t do it before talking it over with an animal behaviorist.

Why Does My Dog Turn in Circles Before He Poops? Not all dogs do it, but many pet parents have watched with confusion at a dog who spins in circles, then steps from one back paw to the other before doing his business. No one knows for sure why dogs do this, but there are several theories. Twirling in circles may be evolutionarily beneficial, in that it enables wild dogs to scan the horizon for predators, so as not to be attacked while in a vulnerable position. Other experts believe the walking helps get the bowels moving. Canines have scent glands in their paws, so twirling might be another way for them to spread their scent around, letting other dogs know that the territory has been claimed.

Why Does My Cat Lick Me? How many of you have had a cat that licks you incessantly? Well, experts in feline behavior believe that when a cat grooms and licks another cat or a human, they’re conveying trust, affection and caring. These licks are actually ‘kisses’ and a sign that your cat feels happy and safe. When a cat bonds to a human, there can be no limit to feline affection.

Why Does My Cat Meow At Me? Anyone who has ever lived with a vocal cat has certainly asked this question. The experts say that when a cat meows at their humans, they’re asking for something. Over time, felines have figured out that meowing gets results, but why is this so effective? Feline behaviorists believe that ‘meowing’ is actually a cat’s way of imitating the cry of a human infant. It’s a behavior that kittens learn early on, as kittens meow to their mothers, often because they’re hungry. I find it interesting that cat meows can vary depending on what they are asking for. For example, the meow to ‘go outside’ can sound very different from the one for ‘feed me’. Experts have also found that cats meow differently to different people. For the most part, when a kitty is making a vocal request, it is out of pleasure and trust that their human companion will fulfill the feline’s every need. If your cat is obsessively meowing and the behavior is increasing, it is always a good idea to get your kitty checked by your local veterinarian. Certain medical conditions, such as hyperthyroidism, can cause excessive vocalization.

Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals.
Dr Jane Bicks.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Arthritis in Cats

Courtesy of Life's Abundance and the May 2014 Newsletter:

Arthritis in cats and dogs seems to be a prevalent issue today.

Medication and surgery have seemed to be the answer for so many suffering from this and to alleviate the pain.

Dr. Sarah, staff Veterinarian goes over in this video an alternative with no side affects!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Feline Annual exams

Courtesy of Life's Abundance and the April 2014 Newsletter:

Feline and canine annual exams and why they can be so important.

Thanks to Dr. Sarah we learn why as well as what goes into this.
detailed head to toe exam.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Recall for cat food

The following link will take you to the FDA page for the recall

The Robert Abady Dog Food Co., LLC Recalls "Abady Highest Quality Maintenance & Growth Formula for Cats" Because of Possible Health Risk

Monday, January 27, 2014

Recall: Cat Food PMI

PMI Nutrition, LLC Recalls Red Flannel® Cat Food Due to Possible Salmonella Contamination

FDA page for the recall:

(800) 332-4738

Rebecca Lentz
(651) 375-5949

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - January 25, 2014 - PMI Nutrition, LLC (PMI), Arden Hills, Minn., has initiated a voluntary recall of its 20 lb. bags of Red Flannel® Cat Formula cat food for possible Salmonella contamination. There have been no reports of illness related to this product to date. This recall is being issued out of an abundance of caution after routine testing by the FDA Detroit District Office identified possible Salmonella contamination.
Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.
Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.
Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.
Red Flannel® Cat Food was manufactured by a third-party manufacturer for PMI. The product was sold through dealers to customers distributed in the following states: Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
The lot number is printed on the lower back side of the bag in a white box on the right-hand side. The lot number will be preceded by a time stamp that will be unique to each bag. (Example 14:32) The lot number and best-by date impacted by this recall are as follows:
Best by 05 06 14 096 13 SM L2 1A (lot number)
The UPC code for the recalled product is: 7 42869 00058 5.
No other products/lot numbers are affected by this recall.
Customers should immediately discontinue use of and return impacted product to their dealer for a full refund or replacement. We continue to work with impacted dealers and distributors to trace the bags.
For more information on the recall, customers can contact the customer service line for PMI products at 1-800-332-4738. Customer service representatives will be available Sunday, Jan. 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. CST and Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Heart Disease, Cat, Dog, Human

THANK YOU Dr. Jane Bicks - important article regarding Heart Disease:
Definite Read!

Courtesy of Life's Abundance and the January 2014 Newsletter:

Heart Health Awareness Month is right around the corner, beginning February 1st. While technically concerned with human heart health, I think it’s vital that we expand the scope of the conversation to address canine and feline heart health, too.

Most people have a basic understanding of the risks of heart disease in humans, but when it comes to the heart health of our pet kids, that area remains a mystery to many. In the following seven frequently-asked questions, we’ll consider the parallels between all three species (humans, canines and felines), to better understand heart disease.

How Widespread is Heart Disease?

Humans: In America, heart disease is the #1 cause of death. Annually, about 600,000 people die of heart disease, one in every four deaths.

Dogs and Cats: Although reliable statistics are not readily available for adult felines or canines, heart disease is not the pressing problem that it is for humans. That being said, heart problems are still common, with one in ten dogs developing valvular heart disease. As with many health issues, the risk for heart disease increases with age, especially for dogs over the age of nine (the age varies from breed to breed).

When it comes to cats, tracking heart disease proves extremely challenging, as felines present virtually no physical symptoms from this condition.

What’s the Most Common Form of Heart Disease?

Humans: In adults, coronary artery disease is the most prevalent kind of heart disease. The main type involves plaque build-up in the arteries, which affects their ability to deliver blood to the heart. As the layers of plaque thicken and harden, blood flow to the heart is further restricted.

Dogs and Cats: The biggest difference here is that pet kids are not at-risk for coronary artery disease. While that’s good news, there are other medical conditions that dogs and cats face. Dogs can suffer from mitral valve disease or dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Mitral valve disease describes a condition where a valve on the left side of the heart fails to close properly. The problem with this is that blood pools into the left atrium, rather than exiting the left ventricle. Older, small-breed dogs are more likely to develop mitral valve disease, and the condition is only worsened by periodontal disease. DCM weakens the heart muscle so that it pumps less vigorously and regularly, a condition more common in large breeds.

Cats, on the other hand, are prone to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Here, the walls of the heart thicken and the muscle becomes less flexible. The unfortunate result is that the heart pumps less blood. HCM is a genetic disease that is found in both pure and mixed breed cats.

What are the Symptoms of Heart Disease?

Humans: Symptoms vary depending on the disease, but patients with coronary artery disease often have chest pain, arm pain and shallow breathing. And, of course, there’s the big wake-up call of a heart attack.

Dogs and Cats: Dogs typically exhibit signs such as low energy, trouble getting comfortable, labored breathing and a low-pitched, chronic cough. On occasion, they might actually collapse or faint.

Cats may also become lethargic, as well as sleeping or hiding more than is typical. Often, cats will also lose their appetite. If a blood clot is swept from the heart and travels down through the aorta, felines can suffer a painful, sudden paralysis in their hind legs. Important note:

If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical assistance immediately. And, if your companion animal experiences any of these symptoms, seek veterinary assistance immediately.

How Do You Test for Heart Disease?

Humans: Doctors can choose from a variety of diagnostic testing, including blood exams, treadmill tests, electrocardiograms and imaging analyses.

Dogs and Cats: For veterinarians, a stethoscope is the most effective way to identify heart disease. That being said, it is difficult to detect an issue absent a murmur. Sometimes an x-ray, ECG or echocardiogram may shed light on an undiagnosed problem.

What Medications are used for Treatment?

Humans: If you were to be diagnosed with heart disease, doctors might prescribe a blood-pressure medication, a blood thinner or a cholesterol-lowering drug (among other things). Patients often use medications to make the heart beat more slowly and to relax blood vessels.

Dogs and Cats: Many of the drugs we use are also used by dogs and cats. Treatments vary according to the animal and kind of heart disease. The important thing to note is that there are treatments available, and new research is presenting new avenues for improvement.

Can Diet Help to Prevent Heart Disease?

Humans: Diet has a big influence on heart health. Eating foods heavy with saturated and trans-fats can raise cholesterol levels and contribute to plaque build-up in the arteries. Conversely, a diet rich in omega fatty acids, whole grains and fiber can help to lower bad cholesterol levels and help prevent heart disease.

Dogs and Cats: A healthy diet has not been proven to significantly alter the rates of canine and feline heart disease … however much more research has been done on humans in this regard. It’s hard to overstate the importance of quality food and your companion animal’s quality of life.

What About Exercise?

Humans: Yes, definitely! Exercise lowers the risk of heart attack and reduces stress, another risk factor for heart disease.

Dogs and Cats: The kinds of heart disease commonly found in cats and dogs can't be avoided through exercise. But, as with people, regular exercise will improve overall health and help prevent obesity in pets. And don’t forget what researchers, healing experts and therapy animals have been demonstrating for decades … that by taking care of a dog or a cat, you’ll also be taking care of your heart.

Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals.
Dr. Jane Bicks