Pet Heartbeat Abnormalities

The Consequences of Heartbeat Abnormalities

Heartbeat abnormalities can have serious consequences for our pets! To protect our loved ones we need to pay attention.

Our sincere appreciation goes to our guest author, Yanni Giatis, DVM, DACVIM, Board certified cardiologist at Medvet Dayton 

Similar to humans, our furry family members can develop underlying cardiac disease that can result in significant clinical signs; a frequent example of which is arrhythmias. An arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm that disrupts the normal activity/function of the heart. Your vet might detect it with a stethoscope, but since arrhythmias can be intermittent, additional diagnostics such as a Holter monitor may be needed as well.

There are many causes of an arrhythmia, from underlying structural heart disease to diseases of the spleen and brain. Additionally, arrhythmias have been noted in traumatic accidents, malpositioning of the stomach, systemic infections or even severe anemia. Many pets will not show noticeable outward signs of an abnormal heart rhythm unless it is long lasting. The signs they show may be subtle and falsely attributed to other things, such as aging.

Signs to watch for include:

  • Vomiting and decreased appetite
  • Increased sleeping or lying about the house
  • Weakness
  • Stumbling or wobbly
  • Collapsing

These signs may wax and wane as an abnormal heart rhythm comes and goes. For more serious or constant arrhythmias, the pet can be at risk for sudden death.

Therapy for an arrhythmia can range from no treatment in mild cases, to medication or curative catheter based procedures with rapid arrhythmias and pacemaker implantation for slow arrhythmias.