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What questions shall I ask?

Is your dog due a heart check?

You may not know it, but a heart check-up is just as important as the other routine checks your dog should have. When you are next at your vet for a routine appointment (such as for a vaccine or a weigh-in) make sure you talk to your vet about your dog’s heart. Your dog should have their heart checked by the vet at least once a year, to detect problems early before any symptoms develop.

Vets will usually check your dog’s heart during a routine examination but may not mention it, especially if it’s normal and healthy. Vets will welcome questions and a proactive discussion about your dog’s health, so never be put off asking for more information about their findings.

Do remember though that it’s important to stay as quiet as possible when the vet is examining your dog’s heart as they will be listening very carefully for any abnormalities. Once they’ve finished, you can use these handy questions to help start a conversation.

Top questions you can ask your vet at your next visit:

  • Is my dog at risk of heart disease?
  • What type of heart disease are they most at risk of, for example mitral valve disease (MVD) or dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)?
  • Is my dog showing any signs of heart disease?
  • How often should I bring my dog in for you to check their heart?
  • Is there anything I should do to keep my dog’s heart as healthy as possible?
  • Am I able to monitor my dog’s heart health at home?

If your vet does find something to indicate heart disease, they may suggest some tests such as an X-ray or an ultrasound scan to look at your dog’s heart in more detail. Early detection of heart disease is key as early intervention can help slow disease progression, keeping your dog happy and healthy for longer.

Preparing for your visit

It may be useful to keep a note of anything different about your dog that you have noticed since your last visit to the vet, as it can be easy to forget when you are in the appointment. Some things you may wish to keep track of include:

  • a change in your dog’s appetite, for example not eating as much as usual.
  • any change in their toileting habits. Are they going more or less than usual?
  • any change in their activity levels. Have you noticed that they’re only managing shorter walks? Do they get tired more easily or seem slower than usual?
  • any change in their habits at home. Maybe your dog always sleeps upstairs and they are no longer happy climbing the stairs at bedtime?
  • any changes in their breathing, such as panting more than usual.
  • Be aware of the risk.
  • Educate yourself on the options.
  • Assess at the vets.
  • Talk to your vet.