How Is It Treated
CHF is a medically managed condition. As your pets heart disease progresses and relapses or CHF occurs, we will continue to work with you and your primary care veterinarian to adjust medical therapy in an effort to regain control of clinical signs.
Congestive heart failure is usually managed by a three level approach:
- Diuretics such as Lasix , Spironolactone, Hydrochlorothiazide
What Is The Difference Between Right
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.
The 5 Most Common Causes Of Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs
- Heartworms. They can block heart valves or even an entire heart chamber, causing the heart muscle to thicken, heart enlargement, lead to valve disease, and cause other serious damage.
- Parvovirus. This highly contagious virus is preventable with a vaccine, but if your dog catches it, it could potentially infect the heart muscles.
- Bacterial infections. Bacteria that get into the bloodstream can cause swelling in the lining of the heart or heart valves. Luckily, good dental health and proper teeth brushing can help prevent this from happening.
- Nutritional deficiency. A good diet and regular exercise are incredibly important to a dogs overall health. Poor nutrition over the course of your dogs life can cause CHF or potentially make CHF worse when caused by other factors.
- Genetics. Some dogs are just predisposed to developing heart failure later in life due to their genetic makeup .
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Heart Medication For Dogs
- Diuretics like furosemide are medications used to remove excess fluid buildup from the lungs or abdomen.
- Inodilators are medications that both increase myocardial contractility and open up constricted blood vessels, reducing the workload on your dogs weakened heart. The only one available currently is Pimobendan .
- ACE inhibitors, or inhibitors of angiotensin-converting enzyme, are a group of medications that open up constricted blood vessels.
Bruiser is on Pimobendan, Furosemide, and a drug called Sprionolactone, which is another diuretic.
Stages Of Canine Congestive Heart Failure
Heart failure in dogs is divided into several stages, which correspond to the severity of disease. These stages include:
Stage A: Dogs that are at risk of heart disease but not yet showing signs of heart disease.
Stage B: Dogs with evidence of heart disease but no evidence of congestive heart failure. Stage B is further divided into two substages:
- Stage B1: There are no visible heart changes on radiographs or echocardiography.
- Stage B2: There ARE visible changes to the heart seen on radiographs or echocardiography
Stage C:This stage includes dogs with current or previous signs of heart failure.
Stage D:Dogs with ongoing signs of heart failure that are not responding to standard medical treatments
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Dog Congestive Heart Failure Stages
Four functional classifications of Congestive Heart Failure have been identified in dogs:
CLASS I Dog has no obvious signs of disease or distress. In this early phase, during which the heart begins to show weakness, can last for years.
CLASS II Is characterized by minor symptoms like occasional lethargy or fatigue but the dog is still considered otherwise healthy. There could be early indications of shortness of breath accompanying active exercise or heavy physical activity. There are no symptoms when the dog is sitting still or lying down. There can be a lack of circulation in the extremities in during this stage that may interfere with wound healing. Mental confusion can occasionally result from a lack of circulating oxygen to the brain.
CLASS III Progressing into repeat negative symptoms. Even slow walking on a level surface can produce shortness of breath and fatigue. Other potential signs include excessive sleeping, intolerance to exercise and a persistent dry or hacking cough , wheezing, sudden collapse , and a bluish discoloration of the tongue and gums during exercise. Because the accumulation of fluid in the chest interferes with deep breathing, the dog may seek fresh air outdoors more than usual in order to catch-its-breath. Along with swelling in the extremities, the dog may have distended abdomen and be unable to rest comfortably. Vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss are all signs of stage three CHF progression.
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.
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How Can I Help My Dog With Heart Failure
What Causes Congestive Heart Failure
The most common cause of congestive heart failure in dogs is congenital heart defects, meaning that it’s a genetic condition that can’t be prevented. Many small breeds have a genetic propensity toward CHF, says Love to Know, including toy poodles, Pomeranians, dachshunds, and cavalier King Charles spaniels. Small dogs in general tend to be more prone to developing CHF because the heart valves tend to degenerate more than in larger breeds. However, some large breeds, particularly giant breeds such as St. Bernards, Newfoundlands, and Great Danes are prone to developing CHF due to dilated heart muscles. It’s important to understand that congenital CHF typically manifests late in a dog’s life and that these dogs can live many years seemingly healthy and happy before symptoms begin to appear.
CHF can also develop in a heart that’s been weakened by other heart conditions, so it’s important to do what you can to prevent heart disease from occurring in your pet, including preventing obesity and providing heartworm prevention.
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Chronic Treatment Of Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs
Chronic treatment of patients with CHF shifts from trying to control pulmonary edema to trying to negate deleterious effects of neurohormonal stimulation. The aim of chronic CHF treatment is to increase longevity of the patient, as well as improve quality of life. As a result, treatment for chronic CHF generally involves the use of 4 medications: furosemide, pimobendan, an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, and spironolactone. These drugs are usually continued indefinitely. Other drugs may also be required.
Changes In Heart Failure
Nutrition is the major key to treating heart failure.
Changes should now focus on sufficient calorie intake, drastic reduction in salt , and supplementation with Omega 3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and control arrhythmia.
For severely affected dogs, suffering from a build-up of fluids in the thorax or abdomen, there are surgeries called thoracentesis or abdominocentesis which is a puncture of fluid in the lung or abdomen.
Stress reduction is also crucial.
Do not encourage your dog to do strenuous exercise and if he suffers from recurring edema, ask your vet for a prescription for tranquilizers to help him overcome these episodes.
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What Are The Last Stages Of Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs
In the last stage of heart disease in dogs, one can find few clinical signs. Dogs will no longer have the energy to play or exercise and may experience a loss of appetite. The dog may also cough from time to time with fluid buildup in its lungs as well as difficulty breathing due to fluid back up into its chest cavity which restricts lung function and may cause left-sided congestive heart failure. In some more severe cases, they can even develop an abnormal heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation that could lead to sudden death if not treated promptly. This is why it’s important for owners who notice any signs like these in their pet canine should consult with a veterinarian right away because of treatment options such as hospitalization for intravenous fluids injections for quick recovery from congestive heart failure.
Types Of Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs
- Left-sided congestive heart failure: This causes pressure to back up in the vessels that pump blood into the left ventricle of the heart. Blood leaks through the mitral valve, which causes excess fluid to become congested in the lungs. Fluid accumulates in the lungs and leads to coughing, exercise intolerance, difficulty breathing, and a high respiratory rate.
- Right-sided congestive heart failure: This causes pressure to build up in the vessels where blood flows into the right atrium from the veins in the body. Rather than leaking through the mitral valve, blood leaks where it is pumped into the heart and becomes congested within the body. This pressure can lead to fluid buildup in the chest cavity, the abdomen , the liver, and even the limbs . These dogs can also experience difficulty breathing due to pressure around the lungs.
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Things You Should Do To Manage Chf Symptoms
There are many dogs that live long lives with CHF and another congenital heart disease.
Successful living with heart disease is much like it is with humans, it takes care, medications, quality nutrition, and exercise.
Below is a list of 10 things you should do to manage symptoms of congestive heart failure in dogs to ensure your pet lives a quality life.
If coughing becomes severe, contact your veterinarian. If already diagnosed with CHF and on furosemide, your vet may recommend an additional dose to alleviate any extra accumulation of fluids.
Watch your dog carefully, time coughing, and take notes for the next visit.
2. Difficulty Breathing
With CHF, difficulty breathing indicates fluid build-up in the lungs. Your vet may prescribe additional diuretics like furosemide.
If the difficulty breathing worsens call your veterinarian immediately.
3. Difficulty Sleeping
Dogs may try to sleep on their chest instead of their sides. You may observe your dog trying to sleep quietly sitting up.
This is due to the fluid build-up in the lungs when your dog lies on its side making it uncomfortable. Its a sign to get a check-up.
Dogs with CHF should be allowed the amount of exercise they want to enjoy life. If they become tired or weak, it’s best to take a break.
Pushing your dog beyond its limits can cause irregular heartbeats .
5. Expensive Medications
There may also be a less expensive alternative treatment that your vet may be aware of. Call your vet first.
Symptoms Of Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs
Here are some common signs that your dog might be suffering from congestive heart failure, according to Pet Health Network®:
- Breathing at a fast rate, especially when in a resting state
- Reluctance or refusal to exercise
- Getting tired more easily on walks or during play
- Coughing up blood
If you notice any of these symptoms, you should have your dog checked by your vet without delay.
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What Are The Signs Of Heart Disease In Dogs
Heart disease in dogs often goes unrecognized for some timeeven years. The most common cause of heart disease is characterized by a long preclinical stage when the dog is asymptomatic, Gordon says. That means the first stage of heart disease will likely go unnoticed by owners, but may be detected by your veterinarian.
Gordon says to keep in mind that not all dogs with heart disease will go on to develop heart failure, but that there are many clinical signs of heart failure in dogs to watch out for, including:
- Fast breathing when he is at rest or sleeping. Here are Gordons tips for evaluating your pets breathing rate at home.
- Increased effort associated with breathing
- Restless sleeping moving around a lot and changing positions
- Coughing or gagging
Bring Your Pet To Veg For All Symptoms Of Heart Failure In Dogs And Cats
As you can see, there are many signs of heart failure associated with dogs and cats. If you have a senior pet, or any pet with a known chronic health condition, its a good idea to learn these symptoms. This way, youll know when somethings going wrong with your pet, and youll be ready to go to the vet.
Remember that there is no cure for heart failure. Although some pets may live a long time with early to moderate stages of heart failure, it will eventually advance beyond any treatment or management. Your vet will help you choose when euthanasia may be the best option for your pet.
If you notice your pet exhibiting any of the symptoms of heart failure in dogs and cats mentioned above, you should seek veterinary care as soon as possible. VEG has locations all over the country, with most of them being open 24 hours a day and all of them being open 24 hours on weekends and holidays. All of our hospitals are staffed with compassionate, caring professionals who always put the wellbeing and comfort of your pet first. So dont wait, make sure your pet gets the care she needs by calling and speaking to one of our emergency vets now.
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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.
What Clinical Signs Should I Expect
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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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.