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Frankston Heights Veterinary Centre
231 Frankston-Flinders Rd
Frankston, VIC, 3199
Phone: 03 5971 4888

With Valentine's day just round the corner, this month's newsletter focuses on heart health.

For many patients, a cardiac ultrasound aids correct diagnosis and treatment for heart disease.

Dr Will Gartrell has a special interest in ultrasonography is able to perform these ultrasounds at Frankston Heights.

Please call to make an appointment if you have any concerns about you pet's heart health.

Contents of this newsletter

01  Puppy School Reunion

02  Heart health 101

03  A healthy mouth for a happy heart

04  What's your pet's SRR?

05  High blood pressure

06  Six signs your cat loves you

01 Puppy School Reunion

It's party time for our 2017 Puppy Pre-school graduates!

Save the date - Sunday March 18th from 10-12. (local venue -  to be confirmed) 

Catch up with your class mates for a fun morning of games, give aways and prizes.

To register your interest please call 59714888 or email

02 Heart health 101

Heart disease sneaks up on our pets and most of the time it isn't until your cat or dog is in heart failure that physical changes are visible.

Signs of heart disease are generally related to a reduced function of the heart. The heart has to work harder and harder over time and without treatment the heart starts to fail.

Regular check ups allow us to detect any changes in the heart. On examination, we may hear a murmur (abnormal blood flow) or an arrhythmia (irregular rhythm). These may be reason for us to perform more tests such as x-rays, ultrasound and an ECG.

Being able to recognise some of the early signs of heart disease at home can also make a big difference to your pet. This allows early medical intervention and can help give your pet the best opportunity for a longer and healthier life.

Signs of heart disease to look out for at home:

  1. Coughing, especially at night or after lying down
  2. Laboured or fast breathing (an increased SRR - see article below)
  3. A reluctance to exercise and tiring more easily on walks
  4. An enlarged abdomen
  5. Weight loss or poor appetite
  6. Weakness or fainting associated with exercise

The good news is that there are a wide range of medications available to help a pet suffering from heart disease. These can keep the heart disease under control and help your pet live a longer and near normal life.

If you think your pet might have a problem with their heart, call us to arrange a check up today.


03 A healthy mouth for a happy heart
iStock 889624242

Did you know that improving the condition of your pet's teeth could lead to a healthier heart?

This is because there is plenty of evidence that dental disease is linked to heart disease. Here's how it works...

Plaque and tartar that build up on the teeth lead to infection of the gums. Bacteria from this infection travel in the blood stream around the body and can cause infection in the heart. This commonly occurs in the heart's lining and valves and is known as endocarditis.

And it's not just the heart that can be impacted by an unhealthy mouth. The kidneys, liver and lungs are also at risk.

The good news is that many of these problems can be reversed if dental disease is resolved and dental hygiene is improved.

Top tips to prevent dental disease:

1. Get your pet's mouth checked regularly by us - we are here to pick up on problems early.

2. Get your pet eating the correct diet. A premium quality dry diet is essential for good oral health. There are some excellent dental diets available and they really work so ask us for the best recommendation.

3. Brush your pet's teeth. This is considered gold standard - be sure to use a pet approved toothpaste. Ask us for more information.

4. Lift the lip and have a smell. If you notice any yellowing of the teeth or redness of the gums OR your pet's breath is a bit smelly, it is time for a check up.

We recommend a dental check up at least once a year. Regular checks protect your pet's overall health and can be life saving!

04 What's your pet's SRR?

SRR is an acronym for your pet's sleeping respiratory rate. The SRR is a very powerful tool that you, the pet owner can undertake in your own home. It can help detect the onset of/or improve the monitoring of left sided congestive heart failure (CHF) in both dogs and cats.

Many of the common heart diseases lead to left sided congestive heart failure. When pressure in the top left heart chamber increases and blood backs up into vessels within the lung, it results in blood accumulating in the lungs. This fluid, referred to as pulmonary oedema, causes an increase in your pet's respiratory rate. 

How do you monitor sleeping respiratory rate?

  • The measurement should be done when your pet is asleep in a normal environment (not too cold, not too hot). 
  • Repeat the measurement over 2-3 days (to get a baseline variation), and then ongoing monitoring should happen once or twice a week.
  • Normal SRR in dogs and cats is less than 30 breaths per minute, often in the high teens or low 20s. 

When to seek veterinary advice?

If your pet has an underlying heart disease and their SRR is consistently greater than 30 breaths per minute, your pet could be developing congestive heart failure and you should seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.

It's important to note that an elevated SRR can sometimes be caused by high blood pressure, anaemia, pneumonia, heat stress or a fever so a veterinary check up is always warranted. 

If you are ever worried about your pet you should ask us for advice. 

05 High blood pressure

For some pets, measuring their blood pressure is essential for a more thorough veterinary examination. An elevation in blood pressure (or hypertension) can indicate an underlying disease and if left undetected, can cause damage to organs and in some cases, be life threatening.

Blood pressure is the force created by the blood flowing through the body's blood vessels. An increase in resistance in these vessels can cause an increase in blood pressure. This increased resistance is generally caused by an underlying disease.

Cats often develop high blood pressure secondary to diseases such as hyperthyroidism or kidney disease while dogs may suffer from high blood pressure secondary to endocrine diseases such as Cushing's disease.

Your pet's blood pressure will usually be measured using a fancy piece of equipment (such as a doppler). It is essential that the correct size cuff is used on your pet's leg or tail for accurate results. Multiple measurements will also need to be taken to achieve an average reading.

As stress can affect the readings, measuring blood pressure in a veterinary consult can sometimes be difficult! A elevation of blood pressure due to stress is often referred to as 'white coat syndrome' and it is therefore important that we take things slowly during the measurement process.

If your pet is diagnosed with high blood pressure it is essential that the underlying disease is treated. Repeat blood pressure measurements may be required every 1-3 months depending on the response to treatment.

In some cases, it may be necessary to give your pet medication to help lower their blood pressure and reduce any potential side effects associated with the hypertension. 

You should always ask us if you are worried or have any concerns about your pet, we are always here to help and will be able to give you the most up to date information.


06 Six signs your cat loves you

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, it's a good time to talk about love. Have you ever wondered if your cat loves you? 

Here's a cute 'Simon's Cat' video that perfectly highlights six signs your cat really loves you!

Check it out on YouTube here