Every night lots of people bring me their sick pets. Very often, those pets have been sick for a long time, but their owners didn't know. Pets can't talk, so they can't complain when something bothers them. They also don't know like people do when their bodies are doing things that are not normal. Unfortunately, pet owners often don't or can't notice these problems either. This means that pets can be sick with the early stages of a serious disease for a very long time, and their owners only notice that something is wrong when they are much sicker. Sometimes, by that point, they are so sick, that doctors are unable to save them. This is a very sad, and potentially preventable, situation.
For this reason I have decided that the most important message I can get out to the public is this:
There are some other details to add:
This disease is very common in cats. The symptoms are not easy to spot at first. In fact, because the typical hyperthyroid cat is active like a kitten even though it is aging, pet owners assume their hyperthyroid cats are the picture of good health. Hyperthyroidism causes high blood pressure which leads to heart disease, sudden blindness, strokes, and death. The sad part is that the disease is easily diagnosed most of the time. There are also treatment options with a success rate of over 95%! The only way to tell if your cat is hyperthyroid is to get a thyroid level blood test from your vet.
This disease is common in dogs and cats. It is caused by blood backing up from the heart into the vessels in the lungs. These vessels leak fluid into the air spaces in the lung or into the space around the lungs, making it difficult to breath. When the valves in the heart leak, they sometimes make a noise, called a heart murmur, which a veterinarian can hear with a stethoscope. This is often the first clue veterinarians have that a pet has heart disease. Heart disease in pets is sometimes curable. In cases which can't be cured, following the disease and starting treatment early is the best way to slow the progression. The only way to check if your pet has a heart murmur is to have a physical examination by your veterinarian.