Heart disease is a common problem in all our species. Our Cardiologists are board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Medicine with a subspecialty in Cardiology. They have extensive training in the diagnosis and care of heart problems in dogs and cats.

running dog

Service Highlights

  • Echocardiogram (cardiac ultrasound) – examines structure and behavior of the heart
  • Electrocardiograms (EKG, ECG) – measures motion of the heart such as its rate and rhythm

Your pet’s heart is among their most critical organs, making it imperative that it stays healthy and functioning properly for the sake of longevity and quality of life. While signs of heart disease in your pet can be frightening, early diagnosis and intervention can add years to their life. If you suspect a heart-related health issue with your pet, it’s natural to seek insight to ease your mind. At SF Vet Hospital, we work extremely hard to bring you factual information you can trust, so we’ve taken FAQs on pet cardiology and answered them as thoroughly and accurately as possible.

If you’re looking for a highly trained veterinarian in San Francisco, CA, we’d love to see your pet for an exam to confirm their heart is healthy, so please call us at 415-907-7576.

What are some signs and symptoms of a cardiovascular condition in a pet?

The signs and symptoms of a cardiovascular condition in a pet can vary. Common signs of a cardiovascular condition in pets include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent and progressive cough
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Collapse
  • Weakness when running or exercising

Can pets exercise normally if they have a cardiovascular condition?

Often, pets with cardiovascular conditions have decreased exercise abilities and tire quickly. A pet with significant heart disease should be limited in physical exertion to avoid a heart-related episode. However, a reduced exercise regimen for a pet with a mild condition can be beneficial when limited to a level that avoids panting, shortness of breath, and weakness. Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine offers additional insight on exercising pets with heart conditions.

How soon should I bring my pet in to see a veterinarian if I suspect that they have heart disease?

If you suspect your pet has developed heart disease, they should see their veterinarian as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment could mean a much better prognosis for your pet.

How will a veterinarian diagnose cardiovascular disease in my pet?

If your veterinarian suspects a heart condition in your pet, your veterinarian will start with a complete physical exam, listening to their heart with a stethoscope and feeling for the pet’s pulse. If you bring your pet in yearly, we’ll be able to watch for changes from one year to the next. During the exam, we will listen to their heart, which may allow us to detect a murmur or irregular heartbeat. We may also recommend blood tests to determine whether the heart is healthy. They may also conduct specialized tests such as x-rays or an echocardiogram to see what’s going on inside. An echocardiogram is an ultrasound that allows us to measure the muscles of the heart. With this test, we can tell if the muscle is too thick or if the heart isn’t pumping effectively and get a better look at the heart’s motion, chamber sizes, and blood flow. While x-rays are also helpful in diagnosing, they only provide a two-dimensional view.

What are the most common forms of heart disease in pets?

The most common forms of heart disease in pets are often specific to the type of breed. Smaller breeds typically experience mitral valve disease, which affects the valve on the left side of the heart. Larger breeds can have several heart issues, including chamber enlargement. Valve disease and dilated cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease) are two other common conditions, along with heart arrhythmias and murmurs. More than ten percent of pets will develop cardiovascular disease, and some pets have congenital heart abnormalities acquired at birth.

What is congestive heart failure in pets?

Heart failure is when the pet’s heart fails to work correctly. The heart works like a pump, circulating blood from the body and into the lungs, where it is oxygenated. The blood then flows back into the heart, where the heart pumps it back into the body for the cycle to repeat continuously. Congestive heart failure in pets occurs when the blood does not flow properly through this cycle.

Why is early detection and diagnosis of cardiovascular disease in pets so important?

Early detection of cardiovascular disease in pets is critical because the heart is such an essential organ and vital to your pet’s overall health and well-being. When diagnosed early, we can promptly start your pet on medications to help slow down the progression of the disease and manage daily symptoms. The earlier we identify the disease, the better the prognosis will be.

What types of preventive care can help a pet avoid cardiovascular disease?

There are several ways to prevent cardiovascular disease in pets, many of which mirror what humans should do to maintain a healthy heart.

Ways to prevent cardiovascular disease in pets include:

  • Regular exercise
  • Maintaining an ideal weight
  • Maintaining a healthy diet

When it comes to your pet’s diet, maintaining a healthy heart goes beyond ensuring they don’t consume too many calories. Certain pet diet trends have been linked to heart disease in pets, as detailed by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

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2001 Harrison Street,
San Francisco, CA 94110




8:00 am - 7:00 pm


8:00 am - 7:00 pm


8:00 am - 7:00 pm


8:00 am - 7:00 pm


8:00 am - 7:00 pm


8:00 am - 7:00 pm


9:00 am - 7:00 pm