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Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs Symptoms

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Treatment Of Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive Heart Failure & Enlarged Heart in Dogs

Congestive heart failure is a condition that occurs when a pets heart can no longer pump enough blood, causing fluid to back up into the lungs or the belly. The specific treatment for congestive heart failure depends on the underlying type of heart disease and its severity.

The primary goals of treating congestive heart failure are to reduce the buildup of fluid and to increase the blood being pumped by the heart to the lungs and the rest of the body. These outcomes can help to improve the quality and length of your pet’s life. A variety of medications, diets, and nutritional supplements are available to help reach these goals. To learn more about supplements and diets that may be appropriate for a pet with heart disease or congestive heart failure, please visit our Nutrition tab.

Usually once a pet has congestive heart failure, they require life-long medications. Sometimes treatment is started during a short stay in the hospital, and other times your veterinarian will feel comfortable starting treatment at home.

Medications that are commonly used to treat congestive heart failure include diuretics like furosemide and spironolactone, ACE inhibitors like enalapril, benazepril or lisinopril, and a drug called pimobendan. Pimobendan increases the strength of contraction of the heart and has been shown to prolong survival of dogs with congestive heart failure.

Oxygen Therapy For Chf In Dogs

Dogs with left-sided heart failure, or those with significant fluid in the lungs, may not be able to get enough oxygen from their lungs to their blood stream. In such cases, a dog may benefit from oxygen supplementation.

Your dog may be placed in an oxygen cage, or provided oxygen via tube through the nose. Alternatively, direct airflow toward the face may be provided .

In severe cases, a dog may need to be intubated to administer oxygen or even mechanical ventilation , but this is associated with a poor prognosis.

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.

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Treating Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

  • Stage Adogs do not need any treatment, but should be regularly screened for heart disease by their veterinarian. This could include regular physical veterinary exams, x-rays and ultrasoundsof the heart.
  • Stage Bdogs have structural change to the heart on x-ray and ultrasound. These dogs are not showing signs of congestive heart failure and therefore do not need treatment. They should be re-evaluated routinely to monitor any changes with x-rays or ultrasound. Dogs that start to show signs of congestive heart failure including coughing or a decrease in activity should be seen immediately as they may now be in Stage C.
  • Stage Cdogs have clinical signs or symptoms of congestive heart failure. These are dogs that are coughing and/or have a decrease in their ability to exercise. These dogs will be started on medications to help their failing heart deal with the demands placed on it. These medications will be needed for the rest of the dogs life. These dogs may also benefit from a diet designed for dogs with congestive heart disease.
  • Stage Ddogs are currently receiving medications as treatment for congestive heart failure, but are not responding to the standard treatment protocols. These dogs will need advanced medical therapy and are best helped by a specialist in cardiology.

If your dog is showing signs or symptoms of congestive heart failure, you need to contact your veterinarianimmediately. Your dogs quality of life will benefit from early diagnosis and treatment.


What Clinical Signs Should I Expect

Understanding The Risk Of Congestive Heart Failures In Dogs

The most common clinical sign of congestive heart failure is persistent coughing accompanied by difficulty breathing. This is due mainly to pulmonary edema or the accumulation of fluid in the lungs. The enlarged heart will also push against the trachea, causing irritation that can induce a cough.

“The most common clinical sign of congestive heart failure is persistent coughing accompanied by difficulty breathing.”

Many dogs with CHF will tire out more easily, have reduced stamina, and do not engage in playing or walking as they once did. Coughing when at rest or sleeping, excessive panting, persistent loss of appetite, a swollen belly, and pale or bluish gums are also signs associated with heart failure. The dog will develop generalized weight loss and muscle wasting due to the effects of CHF on other body systems. If any of these signs develop in a pet with a heart murmur, notify your veterinarian immediately.

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Cbd Oil From Hemp For Dogs With Congestive Heart

At The Heart Of The Matter

Although there is no cure for the common causes of Congestive Heart Failure in dogs, there are natural therapies available that can greatly improve and extend the life of your dogspecifically, botanical extracts like CBD-rich hemp oil.

Scientists are just beginning to understand the specific pharmacological mechanisms underlying Cannabidiols potential as a treatment for cancer, heart disease, seizures, anxiety,diabetes& depression and numerous other canine health disorders.

Published scientific literature has identified more than 65 molecular targets of CBD. This versatile plant cannabinoid is highly active against heart and brain ischemia by modulating many of the molecular and cellular hallmarks of systemic inflammatory immune response.

Cannabidiol from hemp and cannabis is a compound that produces many effects through multiple molecular pathways so it can affect both the structure as well as functional aspects of the heart muscle .

CBD taps into how dogs function biologically on a very deep level. CBD from full spectrum hemp can penetrate the cell membrane and bind to receptors on the nucleus which regulate gene expression and mitochondrial activity.

CBD represents the greatest advancement in veterinary science & animal welfare introduced in the last 50 years.

Causes Of Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure is caused by underlying heart disease, but there are several different conditions that may lead to this syndrome:

  • Mitral Valve Insufficiency : Mitral valve insufficiency is believed to cause about 80 percent of congestive heart failure cases. MVI occurs when there is a leak in the valve that connects the left atrium and left ventricle. When left untreated, this condition can progress to affect both sides of the heart.
  • Cardiomyopathy: Cardiomyopathy occurs when the dog’s heart muscles degenerate, which can lead to dilated cardiomyopathy in which the heart expands due to blood pressure.
  • Narrow blood vessels: Congestive heart failure can be associated with narrow blood vessels and increased blood pressure.
  • Abnormal heartbeat: Also known as arrhythmia, an abnormal heartbeat can cause damage to the muscle and blood vessels if untreated, leading to congestive heart failure.

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Change In Body Weight

As humans, we usually see weight loss as a good thing, but your cat or dogs rapid weight loss does not carry the same positive meaning. When your pet has heart disease and is losing a lot of weight quickly, its because there is a hormone-like substance produced at high levels during heart failure. This results in muscle and weight loss in your pet.

Stages Of Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs

While there are four stages to classify dogs with heart disease, the last two refer specifically to stages of dogs in congestive heart failure. According to the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine classification, these are stages C and D.

  • Stage A is a dog that is of a breed or has another disease that predisposes the dog to heart disease, but may not have any change to the heart.
  • Stage B is a dog that has a heart murmur on physical exam, but there are no structural changes to the heart and no signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure in these dogs.
  • Stage C is a dog with signs of congestive heart failure or is currently in congestive heart failure.
  • Stage D is a dog that has congestive heart failure that is not responding to treatment.

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What Are The Signs Of Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

Dogs withthis condition will often cough frequently and might do so when they are laying down more than when they are standing up. The cough will be repetitive and sound dry and short. These dogs often tire easily as well, and they might seem to get short of breath very quickly.

Dogs that pace around before bedtime or get up and down a lot all night long might also have congestive heart failure. In end-stage disease, your dog might have a swollen belly from a build-up of fluids in the body and they could even faint or pass out due to a lack of blood circulation.

How To Help A Dog With Congestive Heart Failure In Canton Ga

Heart failure in dogs is more common in some breeds than others. Any dog could fall victim to congestive heart failure during their lifetime. This can sound like a tough disease to treat, but there are some ways that you can help your dog to have a good quality of life with this disease.

This is a progressive condition, but there are treatments that can help support better heart function and give your dog some extra years of happy times and good quality of life. You will want to explore your options as soon as your dog has been diagnosed since most dogs fare very poorly without any medical intervention. This is a condition that requires that you take it seriously both for your benefit and for your dogs benefit.

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What Is Canine Congestive Heart Failure

At its core, congestive heart failure in dogs means that their blood is not being pumped adequately throughout the body.

Like a human, a dogs body survives by the blood that gets pumped through its veins.

Every part of the body relies on that blood to keep it alive, well, and healthy.

When the blood does not reach those parts, different parts of the body suffer.

Additionally, even if that blood does not go to the proper places, it still goes somewhere, leading to medical issues.

Where it goes and the problems it causes depends on the type of CHF the dog has.

Stages Of Congestive Heart Failure

Signs of congestive heart failure

The risk and progression of CHF in dogs is classified by stages similar to the way it is categorized for humans with CHF. The stages run from an initial risk for developing CHF but not showing any symptoms to severe symptoms .

  • Stage A: Dogs with a higher risk for developing CHF but currently show no symptoms or structural changes to the heart. Dogs with a genetic risk include small breeds such as Miniature Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, Terrier breeds, and some larger dogs such as Great Danes or Dobermans.
  • Stage B: Dogs with a heart murmur that a vet can hear but does not show any symptoms. A murmur indicates turbulent blood flow within the heart
  • Stage B2: Dogs that show a structural change on an X-ray/radiograph or echocardiogram but are without symptoms.
  • Stage C: In this stage, symptoms of heart disease are present. Dogs in this stage will have current or historic clinical signs of congestive heart failure, but still respond positively to medications and treatment.
  • Stage D: This stage is referred to as end-stage disease. In this stage, a dog will typically have severe symptoms of disease that unfortunately no longer respond to medications or other treatments.

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Two Main Types Of Heart Failure

Typically, there are two types of heart failure.

The most common is dilated cardiomyopathy, where the heart increases in size-stretching the heart walls thin, thus decreasing the efficiency of pumping blood throughout the body.

The second, rarer kind is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, where the heart walls thicken, which also reduces the ability of the heart to sufficiently supply blood. Congestive heart failure may develop over years, months or even as short as a few weeks.

Unlike the human heart attack, the canine heart does not abruptly stop. Instead, as the heart function declines, the body relies on other organs to strain themselves to make up for the decreased heart activity. When the heart can no longer pump enough oxygenated blood to meet the body’s needs, heart failure occurs.

Diagnosis And Treatment Of Chf In Dogs

A vet makes his diagnosis using some or all of the following:

  • Chest x-rays: The vet uses X-rays to observe the physical conditions and characteristics of the heart, such as the hearts size and shape.
  • Electrocardiogram : ECG can detect the presence of arrhythmia, i.e. irregular heartbeats.
  • Echocardiograms: These can determine the extent of normality and functioning of the heart, such as the strength of heartbeats, or the presence of congenital birth defects.
  • Blood and urine tests: The vet needs these tests to determine the proper functioning of the kidneys, liver and other organs. If he finds abnormalities, it may indicate that one or more of these organs are involved in the heart failure process, or the dog patient is suffering from some other diseases.
  • Heartworm tests: As heartworm infestations can cause heart disease, tests for the presence of heartworm larvae are also necessary.

Treatment of the heart failure itself involves mainly the use of medications to increase heart function and prevent cardiac arrhythmias.

Other additional treatment includes the use of supplements and vitamins, dietary control, and exercise restriction.

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Distinguishing Between Potentialcauses Of A Cough

Cough may have many potential inciting causes. The history and the physical examination are the most important features in helping distinguish between them.

The timing of coughing may be important and it should always be ascertained whether cough occurs in association with eating and drinking , or whether cough is associated with excitement/exercise.

The latter is a hallmark of dynamic airway collapse, not heart disease. Loud, harsh coughs are most typical of large airway disease, and if accompanied by honking sounds, typify dynamic large airway collapse . Softer, wetter coughs are more consistently reported with lower airway disorders.

Exercise tolerance should always be specifically questioned, because while there are many potential non-cardiac causes of exercise intolerance, it would not be expected for an animal with heart failure to be able to exercise normally

Exercise tolerance should always be specifically questioned, because while there are many potential non-cardiac causes of exercise intolerance, it would not be expected for an animal with heart failure to be able to exercise normally. Most dogs with primarily inflammatory or dynamic airway disorders will be able to exercise quite normally, the principal exception being those patients with laryngeal paralysis.

Dysphonia, exercise intolerance, audible stridor with exercise and heat intolerance are all useful historical clues to the possibility of laryngeal paralysis.

When To Put Down A Dog With Heart Failure

Canine Congestive Heart Failure

Heart trouble is a common issue among canines, especially as they age.

It can cause a lot of distress, both for the dogs and their owners, as it can be hard to watch.

Once they notice the signs, many dog owners wonder if the diagnosis is the end of the line.

Others begin immediately looking for ways to treat heart failure.

The question among most, though, is how to know when its time to let go.

To make that decision, its crucial to understand more about heart failure, how it impacts dogs, and what options are available.

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My Dog Has Congestive Heart Failure Will He Recover

Heart damage caused by heart disease in dogs is generally non-repairable. However, the build-up of fluid can be reversed, allowing your dog to have a better quality of life. Its important to note that this improvement is temporary the heart disease is still there, and eventually, the drugs will stop working.

The good news is that, depending on the severity of the congestive heart failure, many dogs will live for months or even years after a CHF diagnosis. In one study, the average survival time of cases of severe heart failure i.e those with a second episode despite already being on medication was over 9 months.

Is My Dog At Risk For Congestive Heart Failure

Several factors can increase a dogs risk of congestive heart failure. These include:

Age – The incidence of CHF is higher in middle-aged to older dogs. Chronic valve disease is the most common cause of congestive heart failure in dogs and affects more than 60% of senior dogs.

Size – Large dog breeds have higher risks for dilated cardiomyopathy, which is a leading cause of heart failure in these breeds. Some of the most common breeds affected by CHF are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Doberman Pinschers.

Breed – Mitral valve degeneration is a common cause of heart failure in small dog breeds. However, certain small breeds, such as the Toy Poodle, Shih Tzu, and Chihuahua have higher risks of being affected. Among the small dog breeds, its the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that is most at risk for MVD.

Boxers are also prone to hereditary conditions affecting the heart that can lead to heart failure.

Heartworm disease – Untreated heartworm infections can increase a dogs risk for CHF. As the number of adult heartworms increases, they can clog the heart and its major blood vessels. The worms can also interfere with the actions/functions of the heart valves.

Diet – Nutrition-related factors, such as obesity, certain nutritional deficiencies, and a high-salt diet, can increase a dogs risk of developing heart problems.

When your dog is overweight or obese, his heart will need to work harder so adequate blood can be circulated throughout the body.

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