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Congestive Heart Failure Dogs Symptoms

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Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs Faqs

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How long can dogs live with congestive heart failure?

Once congestive heart failure develops, survival time in dogs is expected to be between 6 to 14 months at stage C. Early detection and proper medical care are keys to improving a dogs prognosis.

What are the symptoms of the final stages of congestive heart failure in dogs?

Stage D is referred to as end-stage disease. In this final stage, a pet will typically have severe symptoms of disease that unfortunately no longer respond to medications or other treatments. These symptoms include cough and coughing up foam, difficulty breathing, increased respiratory rate/effort even when resting, inability to exercise, fatigue/lethargy/weakness, cyanotic gums, distended abdomen, and collapse/sudden death.

How can I help my dog with congestive heart failure?

The pet parent should take their dog to the local emergency vet immediately if congestive heart failure or respiratory distress is suspected.

Is congestive heart failure in dogs painful?

Dogs in congestive heart failure typically do not display obvious signs of pain. However, humans in congestive heart failure have described chest pain as a factor, so its possible dogs also experience some discomfort. Seek veterinary care if you feel your pet is in pain.

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Natural Treatment For Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

Conventional veterinary medical practitioners consider congestive heart failure and other circulatory problems to be progressive and irreversible, but there are natural, holistic treatment options available for pet owners that show promise in slowing, reversing and even preventing CHF in the first place. Cannabidiol, a primary constituent of Canine Support Formula, can reduce heart rate & blood pressure associated with stress and anxiety.

The goal of any treatment is to improve whatever underlying imbalances or deficiencies the dog may be experiencing, which may help to slow or stop the progression of disease.

Since all drugs used to treat symptoms of CHF have some adverse effects, another goal is to facilitate the safe reduction or even elimination of the dogs conventional prescriptions. Of course, treatment outcome depends on the type, severity, and duration of the dogs illness, but many veterinarians and dog owners have seen great improvements in their patients by taking a more natural, holistic approach to canine heart disease.

Nutrition For Chf In Dogs

Nutritional management and diet may be used in addition to medical therapies. Nutrition tailored to your dogs underlying heart condition may help slow the progression of heart disease and improve quality of life. Nutritional goals, diet recommendations and supplements should always be discussed with your primary veterinarian, veterinary cardiologist or potentially a veterinary nutritionist.

Specific dietary supplements such as fish oil/omega fatty acids, taurine and L-carnitine may be considered to decrease inflammation, help manage arrhythmias and improve heart function.

Other recommendations may include weight management, maintaining muscle mass and eating a balanced diet. Again, your veterinarian, cardiologist, and/or veterinary nutritionist should be consulted prior to any diet changes or addition of any supplements.

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Heart Failure Congestive Heart Failure And The Failing Heart

Any heart with a reduced ability to contract is considered a failing heart. Almost any dog with heart disease that leads to chamber enlargement or increased wall thickness has a failing heart, but the body usually is able to compensate in other ways for these physical changes. As a result, the dog has no signs and is not in heart failure or congestive heart failure.

Heart failure and congestive heart failure are medical syndromes in which a dog exhibits signs related to a complex interaction between a failing heart and the blood vessels.

In heart failure, the blood flow is insufficient to supply organs with enough oxygenated blood for proper function. Depending on the degree of severity, signs of heart failure may appear while the dog is at rest, during mild exertion, or during moderate or extreme exercise.

In congestive heart failure, blood dams up in organsusually the lungs but occasionally in the bodys other major organsand causes the congested organs to function abnormally, become swollen with fluid, or both.

Systolic myocardial failure is a general reduction in the ability of the heart muscle to contract. This can be identified with echocardiography . There is reduced wall motion during contraction of the ventricles. If the reduction is significant, normal blood flow cannot be maintained. It may be caused by genetics, trauma, infection, drugs or poisons, electric shock, heat stroke, or tumors. Some cases have no known cause.

Congestive Heart Failure Can Be Treated

Dog congestive heart failure panting. Dog congestive heart failure panting.

Treating congestive heart failure can be easier than you might think. Many dogs who are diagnosed with this condition experience good success with these treatment protocols on their side. Getting your dog to the veterinarian and getting a diagnosis is critical to treating congestive heart failure effectively. Your vet can help you to care for your pet and make their condition much more comfortable and their overall health much better.

If you think that your dog has congestive heart failure, your vet can confirm this diagnosis and help you build a treatment plan. Your dogs unique needs will guide this plan and you will often see a big improvement when you get your dog onto the right congestive heart failure treatment plan.

Call or book an appointment online to talk with a veterinarian at Riverstone Animal Hospital about your dogs care.

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Summary Of Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

Congestive Heart Failure in dogs is fairly common, affecting 75% of senior dogs. While there is no cure, medication and lifestyle changes can help manage the condition. As its not always easy to detect in its early stages, prevention is important proper diet, exercise, and weight maintenance are key for canine cardiovascular health. Be aware of the signs and symptoms so you can seek help as soon as you suspect CHF could be an issue, and stay up to date on your annual vet visits.

Can Congestive Heart Failure Be Corrected

Unfortunately, it is not possible to completely reverse congestive heart failure. Surgery is generally not a viable option, and your dogs vet will likely recommend ways to treat the symptoms only, which will give your dog some relief. Some of these treatments may also slow the progression of congestive heart failure, possibly extending your dogs life.

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Diagnosing Heart Disease In Dogs

Oftentimes, veterinarians can detect heart disease in dogs during routine office visits which can be covered if you enroll in an ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan with an optional preventive care option. If your dog shows any signs or symptoms during their visit, your vet may recommend one or several of the following procedures: X-rays, cardiac evaluation, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, cardiac catheterization, or blood and urine tests.

Diagnostic testing can be expensive too, but ASPCA Pet Health Insurance can help you cover the costs. Get a quote now!

What Is The Difference Between Right

Successfully Treating Dog Congestive Heart Failure with Natural Diet (part 1)

Right-sided congestive heart failure causes poor venous blood return to the heart. In other words, when the heart contracts or pumps, instead of the right ventricle pushing the blood through the lungs for oxygenation, some blood leaks through the tricuspid valve back into the right atrium. This blood backs up into the systemic circulation and consequently becomes congested. Fluid accumulates in the abdomen, interfering with the function of the organs in these areas. The abdomen may fill with fluid, a condition called ascites. Fluid may also leak from veins in the limbs, causing swelling, known as peripheral edema.

In left-sided congestive heart failure , when the heart contracts or pumps, instead of the left ventricle pushing the blood into the systemic circulation, some blood leaks through the mitral valve back into the left atrium and then it backs up into the lungs. Fluid then seeps into the lung tissue resulting in pulmonary edema. This causes coughing and difficulty breathing. Left-sided congestive heart failure is the most common form of congestive heart failure. The classic signs of heart failure, coughing and fluid in the chest, are most commonly caused by LS-CHF.

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How Is Congestive Heart Failure Treated

Treatment depends on the cause of the dogs congestive heart failure and how progressed it is. Based on your dogs symptoms and the things observed in the tests, different courses of treatment may be recommended.

Medication may be used to help the heart work more efficiently and control irregular heartbeats, which can be inefficient. It may also be used to lower the fluid levels around the lungs if that is necessary. Surgery may be required to correct a torn valve. Pacemakers are rarely used, but they may be suggested by some vets.

A special diet may be necessary to prevent extra fluid build-up. Low-sodium diets may help with fluid build-up and limit the progression of the disease. Limited activity may be recommended to avoid putting excess strain on your dogs heart.

Sometimes, supplements are suggested. These will vary depending on your dogs diet, specific symptoms, and blood results. Vitamin B, taurine, carnitine, and antioxidants may be helpful.

Your vet may also want to check for heartworms and bacterial infections of the heart. If any are found, then specific medications to treat those problems will likely be recommended.

Multiple vet visits will likely be necessary. A treatment plan will need to be created and your dog monitored. Changes may need to be made in medications.

Want to learn more about other dog diseases and ailments?

How Do You Diagnose Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

The diagnosis of canine congestive heart failure involves a variety of diagnostic tests that are performed under the supervision of a qualified vet. This allows you to get a proper treatment plan for your dog, while also learning which of the congestive heart failure in dogs stages is your pup going through at the given moment.

In order to diagnose your dog with CHF, your vet needs to hold a physical examination. This allows them to see evident signs that are associated with CHF. This includes the discovery of symptoms such as a heart murmur, noticeable abnormal breathing patterns, and irregular rhythm of the heart.

If your vet suspects CHF, they may move forward to the next step of diagnostic procedures. These approaches include the following tests:2

  • Imaging Tests. With the use of X-ray and ultrasound, your vet can detect your dogs heart size and congestion, while also examining any fluid buildup in other organs such as the lungs.
  • Echocardiography . This test monitors the heartbeat patterns and allows your vet to determine the occurrence of any irregularities.
  • Lab Tests. These blood and urine tests determine other issues that could be causing challenges for your dog, such as heartworms.
  • Heart Monitor. This device monitors your dogs heart rate over the course of 24-48 hours to determine any irregularities.

Once your vet has all the findings at hand, they are able to outline which of the following four stages are most related to your dogs CHF condition.2

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Diet And Exercise For Dogs With Chf

Dogs with congestive heart failure should be put on a low-salt diet.

Moderate exercise is beneficial to dogs with mild cases of heart failure.

However, if your dog is showing symptoms such as coughing, panting, and easy tiring after exercise, then it is not advisable to allow your dog to engage in such exercise or activities that bring about these symptoms.

Signs Of A Dog Dying Of Heart Failure

Understanding The Risk Of Congestive Heart Failures In Dogs

If your dog has just been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, you likely have many questions about what this means for their future.

CHF is a serious condition that cannot be cured, but can be managed over time with proper care.

So how do you know if your dog is beginning to suffer in their condition?

In this article we will discuss the details of CHF in dogs, and help you understand the signs of a dog dying of heart failure.

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Preventing Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

To prevent CHF, owners need to be aware of the signs and symptoms associated with heart problems and address them right away. Proper nutrition is important, but supplements can also play a role heart disease prevention.

Some preliminary studies have shown a link between grain-free diets and heart disease . If your dog is eating a grain-free diet, speak with your veterinarian about whether your dog should change to a diet containing grain.

Signs Symptoms And Treatment For Dilated Cardiomyopathy In Dogs

January 20th, 2015 | Posted in Medical Articles


Dilated cardiomyopathy is a disease of predominantly large and giant breed dogs that results in progressive heart muscle dysfunction, chamber dilation, and eventual congestive heart failure or death of affected patients. The exact cause of the condition is unknown but genetic factors are presumed to play a role. There is no known effective preventative strategy for the condition. Treatment for affected individuals may improve their quality of life, delay the onset of heart failure symptoms, and potentially improve life expectancy. Treatment is not curative, however, and most affected individuals eventually die from the disease.


Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a condition characterized by weakness of the heart muscle that eventually leads to enlargement of the heart chambers and complications of congestive heart failure, irregular heart rhythms , and/or sudden death in affected individuals. The condition is infrequently diagnosed in dogs and is rare in cats. It is most common in large or giant breed dogs , with Cocker Spaniels being one notable exception. The prevalence in certain breeds suggests a genetic predisposition for the condition. It affects adult, usually middle-age or elderly patients.


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What Is Heart Failure In Dogs

Heart failure is a complex condition that can develop from congenital or acquired heart disease in dogs. Depending on the specific disease process, it can affect the left and right sides of the heart, manifesting in respiratory signs and weakness due to:

  • Fluid retention: Congestion sometimes called backward failure
  • Pump failure: Low cardiac output sometimes called forward failure.

While the underlying heart disease can vary depending on age and breed, chronic heart failure management for degenerative mitral valve disease and dilated cardiomyopathy initially relies on a combination of a diuretic, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, and pimobendan, with additional medications added as necessary.

General Cost Of Treatment For Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

How to Recognize Congestive Heart Failure in a Dog

Cost of treatment for CHF in dogs can vary considerably, depending on the severity of clinical signs.

In a dog with mild or subtle clinical signs, costs typically include:

  • Initial diagnostic testing : $1,000-$1,500
  • Monthly medications: $50-$150/month
  • Long-term monitoring : $500-$1,000/year

In a dog that sees a veterinarian in crisis, costs may be higher:

  • Initial diagnostic testing : $1,000-$1,500
  • Hospitalization/stabilization: $1,000-$3,000
  • Long-term monitoring : $500-$1,000/year

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Is There A Certain Age When Dog Owners Should Become More Concerned About Heart Disease

Gordon says that heart disease in general is rare in dogs less than 5 years of age and increases in frequency as dogs age. But in some cases it can be earlier or even later in life, she says. And as in so many diseases and conditions, you might wonder if heart disease is more prominent in certain dog breeds. Gordon says that some purebred dogs have higher risks for specific heart diseases, but in general all older dogs have a risk of developing heart disease.

How To Treat Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

Veterinarians are typically unable to repair the underlying cause of congestive heart failure. So, treatment focuses on managing the disease, not curing it. Patients typically require lifelong medication to control signs of congestive heart failure.

The treatment of congestive heart failure can vary widely, depending on the dogs condition at the time of diagnosis. Dogs with only mild signs may be treated on an outpatient basis with oral medications. These medications are designed to improve the hearts function, aid circulation, and remove excess fluid from the body.

In many cases, however, heart failure is diagnosed when a dog comes to the veterinarian in crisis. These dogs may require oxygen therapy, provided via a face mask or by placing the dog in an oxygen chamber. In an emergency setting, congestive heart failure is typically treated with injectable medications, including diuretics, sedatives, and other medications as needed.

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Can It Be Inherited

Your dog can in fact have inherited his congenital heart disease diagnosis, and it can be prevalent in some breeds.

Sometimes dogs can live with these types of heart disease for many years or it may show up late in life.

It can be discovered during a physical if the veterinarian hears a loud heart murmur through a stethoscope. Common congenital defects that your vet may discover are:

  • Subaortic stenosis
  • Ventricular septal defects
  • Persistent ductus arteriosis

Dogs that have congestive heart failure and are diagnosed with one of these congenital heart defects veterinarians will suggest that they be spayed or neutered to prevent spreading the defect within the breed population.

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What Are The Causes

Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs

Several things can cause CHF in dogs. Sometimes, theres a congenital heart defect, which means the defect has been there since birth. These defects include leaking heart valves, an enlarged heart, a hole in the heart and blood vessel abnormalities. Its rare for a dog to have a congenital heart defect. Leaking valves and enlarged hearts can be congenital or develop over time.

Dogs that are born healthy can develop CHF later in life. Some of the things that can cause CHF to develop include viruses like parvovirus, heartworms, bacterial infections and nutritional deficiencies.

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