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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) – February is American Heart Month, and human hearts and their health are often focused on by doctors and the media. However, just as humans have hearts, so do companion animals.

Unlike humans, pets can’t diagnose themselves or go to the veterinarians themselves, they need their human owners to give them that care.

Doctors recommend people go get a check-up once a year from their primary care provider. Veterinarians ask pet owners to do the same for their furry friends.

Shelby Pedigo, an associate veterinarian at Anicira in Harrisonburg, said pets can’t tell their owners what symptoms they are experiencing. For a pet owner to ensure their pet lives the longest life possible, they need to bring their animal in for their yearly check-up, especially for invisible conditions like heart disease. Pedigo said animals that are showing symptoms of heart disease, are often past the point of no return for effective care.

Before a pet is diagnosed with a heart condition, Pedigo recommends speaking with a local vet tech about preventative care an owner can do for their pet.

“It is recommended to make sure, especially in this area, that you are providing your pet with monthly prevention even in the colder months just because of the unpredictability of the weather we have here,” Pedigo said.

Though age is a risk factor for heart disease, both in pets and humans, any pet of any age can have a heart condition. Like humans, some pets are born with heart conditions and need extra care as they live their lives.

”Age is not a determinant of heart disease. New pets, whether they are new puppies, new kittens or there some pet you just rescued from the shelter, having them seen and evaluated as soon as possible is really really important, so we can at least identify the things that we need to be concerned about for your particular pet,” Pedigo said.

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