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Updated February 6, 2019 It’s February and colorful, decorative hearts are everywhere. Although most people think of love and Valentine’s Day when they spy these decorations, at Morris Animal Foundation we think of heart health because February also is American Heart Month.

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in people, but animals suffer from heart health problems, too. The good thing is, the more you know, the more you can help your pet have a heart-healthy life. Here are a few heart health facts and tips to put to work for our companion animals.

  1. Morris Animal Foundation has invested over $4 million in heart disease research to benefit dogs and cats.
  2. We funded our first heart-focused study in 1960. The study attempted to define what a normal electrocardiogram looked like in a dog.
  3. Subvalvular aortic stenosis is one of the most common congenital heart defects in dogs. Our funding helped support the development of a genetic test for the disease in Newfoundland dogs.
  4. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a thickening of the heart muscle, is the most common type of heart disease in cats. Morris Animal Foundation researchers are looking for better ways to diagnose and treat this disease.
  5. Myxomatous degeneration of the mitral valve is the most common heart problem of small-breed dogs.
  6. Untreated arrythmias, or irregular heartbeats, can be deadly. Morris Animal Foundation-funded research led to a novel treatment to restore the heart to a normal rhythm.
  7. Both dogs and cats can develop high blood pressure.
  8. Like dogs, cats are susceptible to heartworm infections, too. Heartworm preventives can keep pets safe from this terrible disease.
  9. Unlike people, our pets rarely develop coronary heart disease.
  10. Morris Animal Foundation veterinary student scholars studied smartphone-based electrocardiogram technology on rabbits (under anesthesia). The title of their study? The iBunny project!

Except for heartworm disease, most forms of heart disease in dogs and cats cannot be prevented. Morris Animal Foundation is hard at work trying to change that. And, while we are making veterinary medical advances in heart care, the goal today is early diagnosis and treatment to improve quality of life and extend life expectancy.

This month, during American Heart Month, make a pledge to help take care of your pet’s heart health with a regular veterinary checkup. You also can make a gift to Morris Animal Foundation to support research that will help your pet live a longer, healthier, heart-happier life. Your pet will love you for it!