Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs Stages

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Medication For Heart Failure In Dogs

Early Stages of Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

Dogs suffering from mitral valve insufficiency or dilated cardiomyopathy will probably be given Pimobendan. This medication is effective in improving the force that the heart can pump with, strengthening the muscles contractions and improving blood flow.

Your dog will also be given an ACE inhibitor such as benazepril, captopril, or enalapril. These will relax your poochs blood vessels, which will then reduce their blood pressure and blood volume. Ultimately this makes pumping blood around their body easier so there is less strain on the heart.

Diuretics, such as furosemide, will be prescribed to help get rid of excess fluid in their body. These drugs stimulate kidney function so that they remove more liquid from the body. A dog with heart failure will need to take diuretics for the rest of their life.

Some dogs might also be given beta-blockers to slow their heart rate.

Progressive Symptoms Of Chf In Dogs

In contrast to the long time lag between Class I and Class II symptoms the illness progresses quickly from Class III to Class IV, so a dog that seemed healthy, active and symptom-free, may suddenly enter a critical phase where the condition requires extensive medical and surgical treatment to manage in order to preserve the life of the dog.

If you notice any of these telltale signs & symptoms of congestive heart failure, make sure to have your pet examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

How Long Can A Dog Live With Congestive Heart Failure

It is possible for dogs with CHF to carry on living comfortably for some time, from a few months to several years.

The length of time depends on a number of factors, such as the stage the dog is in when diagnosed and how it gets treated.

There are no guarantees, of course. Generally speaking, though, the earlier CHF is diagnosed, the better the chances of a more desirable outcome.

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When To Euthanize A Cat Or Dog With Hearth Failure

Making the decision to say goodbye to your cat or dog is the most challenging part of pet ownership.

Congestive heart failure makes this moment inevitable, but it can still be tough to know when its time. So how do you know when to euthanize your cat or dog in heart failure?

In this article we will discuss the signs of a pet struggling in their heart disease, and help you understand when it may be time to let go.

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Is My Loved One Eligible For Care Heres When To Call Hospice For Heart Failure Heart Disease And Chf

Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs
  • End-stage heart disease, advanced heart failure and congestive heart failure symptoms to look for: chest pain, shortness of breath, cognitive decline, increased confusion, recurrent hospitalization for heart-related condition, treatment resistant dysrhythmias, fatigue, unintentional weight loss, significant limitations in physical activity, loss of appetite, anxiety, lightheadedness, fluid retention and/or swelling and increased sleeping.
  • The presence of other chronic disease or conditions such as diabetes or chronic pulmonary obstructive disease may also be a factor in determining eligibility for hospice care
  • A prognosis of 6 months or less, if the disease takes its regular scientific course. No one really knows a definite timeframe.
  • Curative treatment is no longer the patients choice or option.
  • Comfort care, symptom management, and goals of care are the primary focus.

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How To Prevent Heart Failure In Dogs

Sadly, there is no guaranteed way to prevent heart failure in dogs, although keeping them in good overall health should help to improve the health of their heart.

Keeping your dog active will help to improve their overall health and to exercise their heart muscle to keep them strong.

Feeding them a healthy diet should improve your pups overall health, and there are a number of nutrients such as omega-3, vitamin E, taurine, coenzyme Q, and carnitine that are all effective in preventing and treating heart disease. These can be found in many foods or supplements. Well talk about this in more detail below in the best dog food for heart failure section.

Keeping active and eating well will also prevent obesity, which is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease and heart failure in dogs. So keeping your dog slim should help lower their chances of developing heart failure.

Maintaining good oral health by brushing your dogs teeth regularly will also help to prevent problems with your pups ticker. This is because gum disease and poor oral health are linked with an increased risk of heart disease which could lead to heart failure. Therefore keeping your pups gnashers clean should remove another risk factor.

How Is Heart Failure In Dogs Diagnosed

The vet will check your dogs medical history and may conduct a physical exam. They will also run special diagnostic tests to definitively confirm that your dog is suffering from heart failure.

Here are the most common exams for heart failure in dogs:

1. Blood and Urine Testing

Heart diseases can affect the liver and kidneys of affected dogs. Both tests will help determine the type of medications appropriate to use on your dog. This also verifies if your dog has a taurine deficiency.

2. Chest X-Rays

This exam uses low radiation levels to acquire imaging of your dogs heart and lungs. Chest x-rays help the vet check the size and shape of his heart. It also aids in detecting fluid build-up in the lungs.

3. Echocardiogram

This exam makes use of ultrasound waves to observe the size and thickness of each heart chamber. The vet will also be able to note if there are abnormalities in the hearts contractions.

4. Electrocardiogram

It measures the electrical signals from your dogs heart. This test aids in confirming if there are any issues in his heart rate and rhythm such as heart murmurs.

5. Endomyocardial Biopsy

This is an invasive procedure done to gauge your dogs L-carnitine levels. It will figure out if he has L-carnitine deficiency.

6. Heartworm Antigen Test

Heartworms are one of the most common causes of heart failure in dogs. This type of test will examine your dogs blood to find out if your pooch has or has had heartworms.

7. Holter Monitor

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Stages Of Heart Failure In Dogs

Basically, there are four stages of heart failure in dogs. These are classified as Stage A, B, C, and D of heart failure.

Going by the specifications of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine classification, Stage C and D are more commonly associated with congestive heart failure.

  • Stage A mirrors a dog whose breeds increase its predisposition to heart disease. However, this inclination has not physically affected the dogs heart. Also contained in Stage A are dogs with existing conditions but have healthy hearts.
  • Stage B encompasses dogs in which a heart murmur was detected on physical examination. Nevertheless, the dogs hearts structural integrity at this stage is yet to be compromised. Also, dogs in this phase dont yet exhibit any other clinical sign of congestive heart failure.
  • For Stage C, the dog is already manifesting conditions symptomatic of congestive heart failure.
  • , the dogs congestive heart failure condition has consolidated up to unresponsiveness to treatment.

Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs Life Expectancy

My dog, Petey, who is in the late stages of congestive heart failure

There is no magic number we can offer up as the life expectancy of a dog with congestive heart failure. Depending on how severe your dogs condition is and how well they respond to treatment, they may only be given a few weeks or months to live, or they might be able to live out a long and comfortable life.

Normally, dogs can live a long and happy life provided they receive daily medication. Meanwhile, animals with advanced stages of heart failure can survive for 6-14 months after diagnosis.

However, heart failure in dogs thats left untreated will get progressively worse and become fatal.

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End Stages Of Heart Failure In Dogs

The end stages of heart failure in dogs are the hardest for dog owners to endure. When the heart fails to pump as effectively as it should, a cascading chain of events takes place. While the body can try to compensate, and medications can help reduce strain on the heart, this will be effective only up to a certain extent. As the heart is forced to work more, a point will inevitably come where the heart is no longer able to pump correctly. Veterinary care at this point is still important. Your vet can suggest you a therapeutic plan and you should follow up to report the level of success of such intervention.

Clogged arteries leading to heart disease is mostly seen in humans.

When the Heart Fails

In dogs, congestive heart failure is mostly caused by two heart conditions, namely valve degeneration and dilated cardiomyopathy .

Congestive heart failure in dogs is a chronic condition that worsens over time. Although symptoms can be managed, there is no cure, and in time, affected dogs will unfortunately reach the final stages.

When dealing with heart failure, therefore vets aren’t really fixing anything, but just trying to relieve symptoms and delay the inevitable for as long as possible. Dogs with end stage heart failure are unfortunately on “borrowed time.”

Signs Of Heart Failure

Signs associated with heart failure depend on the causes of the heart failure and the heart chamber that is affected. With left-sided congestive heart failure, signs are associated with a backup of pressure in the vessels delivering blood to the left ventricle. This causes fluid to accumulate within the lungs . Coughing, difficulty breathing, and exercise intolerance are the most common signs. Many dogs with left-sided congestive heart failure faint due to lack of blood flow and oxygen to the brain. They may also have a low heart rate and low blood pressure and may collapse. Dogs with left-side congestive heart failure often breathe faster than healthy dogs. Your veterinarian may direct you to count the number of breaths your dog takes within a minute when it is sleeping or resting. This sleeping respiratory rate can then be regularly monitored to identify early heart failure and assess whether your dog is responding to treatment.

Right-sided congestive heart failure results in increased pressure in the vessels delivering blood to the right atrium and the bodys veins and capillaries. This may cause fluid to build up in the abdomen , the chest cavity, liver, and the limbs.

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Managing Your Dogs Congestive Heart Failure


Congestive heart failure can be a scary diagnosis to receive from your veterinarian. Sadly, many small breeds as well as some large breeds, are prone to developing this condition later in life. The good news is that with proper treatment and lifestyle management this diagnosis is containable. However, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of congestive heart failure in dogs so that you can begin treatment promptly, giving your beloved pup the best chance of a longer life.

Final Thoughts On Heart Failure In Dogs

Congestive Heart Failure in Canines

Heart failure in dogs is a serious condition that requires extensive care.

Your veterinarian can help you through this process but eventually your dog will pass away with this condition.

Be sure you watch for the signs of heart failure to really understand where your pup may be in this process.

Review the information that we discussed above so you can better understand the stages of your dogs condition going forward.

My name is Amber. I am a dedicated animal lover that turned my passion into my career. I am a Licensed Vet Tech with 12 years of experience in veterinary medicine, but I recently took my career online to help spread accurate information on animal care. With how vast the online world is, I have a strong desire to ensure that the reader always walks away with helpful pet advice. With the experience Ive gained from my time in this field, I have been able to travel the world, offering my services to as many animal rescues as I can find. If I am not at my laptop, or back home visiting family, you can find me somewhere in the world, cuddling every furry friend that I can find! More About Us

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How Is Heart Failure Treated

Your treatment will depend on the type of heart failure you have and, in part, what caused it. Medications and lifestyle behaviors are part of every treatment plan. Your healthcare provider will talk to you about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment is the same, regardless of gender.

As heart failure gets worse, your heart muscle pumps less blood to your organs, and you move toward the next stage of heart failure. Since you cant move backward through the heart failure stages, the goal of treatment is to keep you from moving forward through the stages or to slow down the progression of your heart failure.

Stage A treatment

The usual treatment plan for people with Stage A heart failure includes:

  • Regular exercise, being active, walking every day.
  • Stopping the use of tobacco products.
  • Treatment for high blood pressure .
  • Treatment for high cholesterol.
  • Not drinking alcohol or using recreational drugs.
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or an angiotensin II receptor blocker if you have coronary artery disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or other vascular or cardiac conditions.
  • Beta-blocker if you have high blood pressure.

Stage B treatment

The usual treatment plan for people with Stage B heart failure includes:

Stage C treatment

The usual treatment plan for people with Stage C HF-rEF includes:

If the treatment causes your symptoms to get better or stop, you still need to continue treatment to slow the progression to Stage D.

Stage D treatment

Can The Heart Repair Itself After Congestive Heart Failure

But the heart does have some ability to make new muscle and possibly repair itself. The rate of regeneration is so slow, though, that it cant fix the kind of damage caused by a heart attack. Thats why the rapid healing that follows a heart attack creates scar tissue in place of working muscle tissue.

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What Dog Breeds Are Prone To Congestive Heart Failure

Certain dog breeds have increased vulnerability to congestive heart failure. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are some of the most susceptible to heart failures.

As early as five years of age, 50% of these dogs develop a heart murmur, which indicates a heart abnormality. Almost 95% of cavaliers develop heart murmur by age 10.

Daschunds are also prone to congestive heart failure. This breed is ill-famed for developing a leaky heart valve. Doberman Pinschers, miniature, and toy poodles also fall into this prone list.

What Is The Treatment For Congestive Heart Failure

Dog Food Recipe for Congestive Heart Failure

The treatment of heart failure depends on the exact cause, but it can usually be treated effectively. The overall goals are to correct underlying causes, to relieve symptoms, and to prevent worsening of the condition. Symptoms are relieved by removing excess fluid from the body, improving blood flow, improving heart muscle function, and increasing delivery of oxygen to the body tissues. This can be done by the various congestive heart failure treatments listed in this sections.

If the underlying cause of heart failure is not correctable by surgery or catheterization procedures, medical treatment is composed of lifestyle changes and medications.

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Late Stage Canine Congestive Heart Failure

In the latter stages of congestive heart failure, the dog becomes lethargic. He’ll breathe heavily when resting, refuse most activity and lay around all day. During activity, it isn’t uncommon for the dog to collapse or faint. The dog’s gums and tongue often turn a bluish-gray color during this fainting spell because the extremities are not getting enough blood.

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.

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Here Are Some Of My Favorite Pets Products

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What Are The Types Of Heart Failure

Signs Symptoms Of End Stage Canine Congestive Heart

There are many causes of heart failure, but the condition is generally broken down into these types:

Left-sided heart failure

Heart failure with reduced left ventricular function The lower left chamber of your heart gets bigger and cannot squeeze hard enough to pump the right amount of oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body.

Heart failure with preserved left ventricular function Your heart contracts and pumps normally, but the bottom chambers of your heart are thicker and stiffer than normal. Because of this, your ventricles cant relax properly and fill up all the way. Because theres less blood in your ventricles, your heart pumps out less blood to the rest of your body when it contracts.

Right-sided heart failure

Heart failure can also affect the right side of your heart. Left-sided heart failure is the most common cause of this. Other causes include certain lung problems and issues in other organs.

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