February is American Heart Month, and doctors from BluePearl Veterinary Partners are encouraging people to remember the heart health of their furry companions during the month that also includes America’s favorite heart-filled holiday.

“Heart disease is common in both dogs and cats,” said Dr. Alan Spier, a board-certified veterinary cardiologist at BluePearl Veterinary Partners. “The difference between pets and people is that most heart disease in pets is genetic and cannot simply be treated by diet and exercise.”

Although serious forms of heart disease can be life-threatening, in many cases, they can be managed with medication.

“Early detection is often the best strategy for a longer life for your pet,” Spier said. “That’s just another reason why regular visits with your family veterinarian are so important.”

In addition to making regular visits with their family veterinarian, pet parents should make sure they are paying attention to their pet’s behavior, activity level and appetite.

While pets cannot speak to us directly, changes in these areas can signify a bigger problem, and should a problem appear, a veterinarian should be consulted as soon as possible.

Although heart disease in pets cannot be prevented by lifestyle or diet, Spier still recommends that pets eat healthy food and get plenty of exercise.