Do Cats and Dogs also Need to Worry about Cholesterol?

Have you ever wondered if pets can suffer from high cholesterol?

Often I look at my cat and wonder if he ever gets a headache; does he get migraines similar to people without having the ability to complain? Does “Lazer” ever get worried? Get depressed? Does he have other conditions such as hypertension or high cholesterol levels that could over time increase the risk of something bad happening? We realize that in humans, continuous high cholesterol levels could take upwards of twenty or thirty years for the arteries to get clogged. Does it take that long in pets? Is that why nobody worries about prevention? Is it because we’re just not expecting our four-legged companions to live that long? This week I’m going to briefly discuss cholesterol since it’s a common “human” diagnosis that most Americans are familiar with.

High Cholesterol in Cats and Dogs

Hyperlipidemia (increase in blood fats) mostly consists of elevated substances known as triglycerides and cholesterol. When history is written about this time period, I believe it’s going to be called the “obsession with fat era.” Each generation seems to need something to worry about and since in this generation we don’t have someone like McCarthy to scare us from communists we found another “danger” called cholesterol and fat to focus on.

Obviously comparing the Communist scare of the 1950s to our fear of dietary fats of today is not really an apple to apple comparison. Hyperlipidemia in pets has the potential to cause vision disorders, pancreatitis, intestinal disorders, and even possible seizures. In humans the list is even more extensive because of the accompanying cardiovascular risks involved.

High cholesterol and fats could be caused by poor diet, by genetic predisposition (such as with miniature Schnauzers which have a genetic predisposition to hyperlipidemia), or by a variety of other predisposing conditions such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, liver disease, and hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s Syndrome).

When hyperlipidemia is diagnosed, the best treatment initially is to maintain a low fat diet. Keep the pet’s weight in check and get veterinarian advice on the best foods to give your pet to help resolve this problem. Supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids have also proven to improve the blood lipid profile and decrease total cholesterol. In rare cases when the omega-3 along with a low fat diet still isn’t enough, the veterinarian may prescribe some more potent cholesterol lowering medications. These medications have some serious side effects and are usually not prescribed unless all other options have been tried first and failed.

To summarize and to get to a potentially useful conclusion, although cholesterol does not seem to be associated with cardiovascular disease in pets as it does in humans, it still poses a variety of life threatening risks and should be treated promptly properly.

As always if you have any medication related question please call one of our 1800PetMeds pharmacists who will be more than happy to help you.

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