Yearly health examinations are so extremely important for our pets’ wellbeing. As they age, biannual examinations can be even more beneficial in catching early changes for our senior pets. Oftentimes we, as owners, may not realize that anything is wrong until a full physical examination is performed. Early detection and prevention allows us to be able to provide the best possible medicine and to help our pets live long and happy lives.

Recently one of our own staff members’ pets, Charlie, was brought in to have a full dental cleaning done. Charlie is owned by our very own Dr. Arsenault! The boarding kennel had mentioned that Charlie had seemed to be slowing down compared to the past few times they had seen him. Nothing else appeared to be wrong with him, other than he was taking more frequent rests during his play time and seemed to get tired more frequently than usual. During his pre surgical examination it was determined that an echocardiogram (ECG) would be performed prior to administering any sedation to Charlie to ensure that his heart was functioning well. Echocardiograms offer us an up close look at how the heart is working and allows us to see small changes before they cause larger issues. The echocardiogram was performed here in hospital by one of our doctors, Dr. MacLeod. Dr. MacLeod has had specialized training at a top cardiology facility at Texas A&M University.

During his ECG it was determined that Charlie did have changes to one of his heart valves. Charlie was showing no other symptoms of having this type of heart condition prior to this echocardiogram. Without the ECG we would not have known about Charlie’s heart changes until they became a more serious problem. Charlie has now started medications to help slow the progression and we are keeping a close eye on him for any other changes that may indicate progression of his heart condition.

The trouble with heart conditions, like mitral valve disease, is that pets will show minimal to no symptoms. When symptoms start to arise, the pet’s life expectancy decreases greatly. If we can catch the condition early enough, we can potentially extend the life expectancy of the pet by a year or two. Every case is different and there is never a guarantee but in many cases when we catch these types of conditions early, we give our patients the best possible chance.

We are so thankful to have such extremely skilled veterinarians on our team. Everyone here at Riverview Animal Health Centre is dedicated to enhancing and learning new skills so we can continue to provide top quality care for your pet and you. Our technicians are always taking courses throughout the year to maintain top notch skill sets. Our veterinarians sometimes travel outside of Canada to attend weekend long courses in order to be a part of the best lectures or courses.

Closeup of Charlie the dog

“Charlie’s signs of slowing down, tire easily were there but as most people say “he’s getting old“. After his echocardiogram and ECG we realized that he had a heart condition, a leaking valve. Do not discount any changes in your pet, get a check up. In Charlie’s case he is now on heart medication and has returned to his previous energy level. Early diagnosis is so important as in Charlie’s case it has improved his quality of life and doubled his remaining life expectancy.” – Dr. Arsenault

Written by Kelsey Hewgill, RVT, Dr. MacLeod and Dr. Arsenault