Caring For A Dog With Heart Disease
A heart problem is obviously a serious health issue to have. If your heart isnt doing well then its hard for anything else to work well either. In the early stages, your dog may well feel fine and they can compensate pretty well for a mild loss in function. Medication can make a great difference to the symptoms as they begin to develop, again especially early on. The most significant signs are likely to be breathing problems with a cough and a general lack of energy.
Because the body is working much harder than it used to, just circulating blood and breathing, many dogs will lose weight. In addition to burning more calories their appetite can suffer and they may not want a large, full stomach as this can make it harder to breathe. They are likely to spend much more time resting. Sleep can be disturbed because lying down can trigger coughing, especially noticeable at night time. Some dogs will develop a distended abdomen because of the fluid they are retaining and this can be uncomfortable.
Dogs dont have heart attacks in the way that humans do but some dogs with heart disease will have a crisis where the heart dramatically becomes overwhelmed and they will die suddenly and quite quickly. Other dogs may arrive at a point where they are finding it so difficult to do the bare minimum and are no longer taking any pleasure in life. At this point its necessary for us to intervene and consider dog euthanasia.
Why Does My Dog Keep Gagging And Throwing Up White Foam
White, foamy vomit is often caused by excessive production and swallowing of saliva, which can be a symptom of nausea. Ingesting grass, plant material, or other things that are unusual or difficult for a dog to digest can cause vomiting. Toxins can cause GI irritation and worse, often leading to vomiting.
What Does A Dogs Cough Sound Like With Heart Disease
Crackles and wheezes are truly lower-airway origin adventitial lung sounds, the former having a low sensitivity for detection of congestive heart failure. Provocation of harsh/honking cough with palpation of the trachea or with excitement suggests inflammatory tracheal disease or dynamic large airway collapse.
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Discover Delicious Food Your Dog Deserves
A failing heart will become much larger than normal too, putting physical pressure on the lungs and windpipe as they become squashed inside your dogs chest. This is why most pups suffering from heart failure cough a lot, particularly at night or when they are picked up.
Because the heart isnt able to pump enough blood around the body, there wont be enough oxygen carried around to the other organs and tissues. In some cases, a dogs other internal organs can suffer from damage due to a lack of oxygen.
Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs Faqs
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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What Causes Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs
There are a number of factors that can result in CHF. Some dogs are born with congenital heart defects that contribute to this condition, but they can take years to present themselves. Congenital heart disease is rare, accounting for about 5% of all canine heart disease.
Common congenital heart diseases include:
Mitral valve insufficiency . While mitral disease can be congenital, we typically see it develop more in middle or old age.
Atrial septal defect
Patent ductus arteriosus or PDA
Dogs that are born with healthy hearts can develop heart disease during their lifetime. Like humans, dogs can develop health issues that can lead to CHF as they age. Other causes of CHF in dogs:
Heartworms: Heartworms can block heart valves, or even clog an entire heart chamber. See our article on heartworm preventative.
Hormones: The thyroid especially can affect the hearts function and performance. For example, a dog with hypothyroidism usually has a slower-than-normal heart rate.
Parvovirus: This virus can potentially infect the heart muscles, and can even cause acute heart failure in dogs.
Bacterial infections: Bacteria from the mouth can get into the bloodstream and attach to the heart valves, causing inflammation in the lining of the heart or in the valves.
Nutritional deficiency: A lack of vitamin E or selenium can cause damage to the heart muscles.
Two Main Causes Of Canine Congestive Heart Failure
There are two main causes of congestive heart failure in dogs:
Degenerative valvular disease
With degenerative valvular disease one ofthe valves that prevents blood from back-flowing into the other chamberof the heart begins to fail. If blood escapes one chamber while the heart is pumping, it causes an imbalance in pressure. This form of heartfailure is more common in small breeds like Yorkshire Terriers.
When the cause of the congestive heart failure is related to dilated cardiomyopathy, either the left or right ventricle chamber starts growing. As one chamber is larger, the blood doesn’t move around effectively. Larger dogs, such as Great Dane, are most susceptible.
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Heart Disease In Dogs
Congestive heart failure is often a result of heart disease. Heart disease is not a specific illness, but an umbrella term for a number of different problems within the heart. These lead to or cause the heart to be unable to work correctly or perform as well as it should.
There are many different types of heart disease, including chronic valvular disease, mitral valve disease, dilated cardiomyopathy, or congenital heart disease to name a few. Its estimated that around 10% of dogs will suffer from some form of heart disease.
Dogs can also develop valvular disease, which means the valves of their heart have weakened and no longer seal properly, so blood leaks back through the valve into other areas of the heart or body. Its estimated that mitral valve disease specifically accounts for 80% of all cases of heart failure in dogs.
Congenital heart disease is something your dog would have been born with, and there are a few different types your pup could have. Fortunately, congenital heart disease is rare and thought to account for fewer than 5% of cases of heart disease in dogs.
Although its not a form of heart disease, an arrhythmia, or abnormal heart rhythm, can also lead to heart failure because it can impact the performance of your poochs heart.
As well as heart disease, heart failure in dogs can be caused by a number of other factors that are either external or related to other areas of your dogs health.
The Best Dog Food For Heart Failure In Dogs
Nutrition is vital in the management of heart failure patients, and one of the first things your vet will advise you to do is to ensure that your dog eats a low sodium diet. This is because excess salt increases fluid retention and blood pressure, putting additional strain on your dogs heart. You will need to make sure your dogs food is balanced so it still provides all the nutrients and calories they need but without much salt. Youll also need to make sure any treats or human foods your dog eats dont contain salt.
Including plenty of healthy fatty acids like omega-3 in a dogs diet has also been shown to improve their condition. This is because omega-3 reduces inflammation and the risk of sudden cardiac death, plus it might have the potential to help to control arrhythmias.
As well as omega-3, other dietary supplements such as vitamin B, taurine, carnitine and antioxidants including coenzyme-Q and vitamin E are advised for dogs with heart failure. These nutrients have all proven effective in preventing and treating various types of heart disease. These nutrients can all be given as supplements, but they can also be found in many foods.
You should discuss all dietary changes and supplements with your vet, and they will be able to advise you on what dosage of supplements will be safe and effective for your individual pooch.
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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.
Is Chf Due Mainly To Heart Valve Disease
CHF is most commonly caused by valvular insufficiency. It is estimated that 80% of the canine CHF cases are caused by MVI. However, there are many other causes. Disease of the heart muscle , irregularities of rhythm, and narrowing of some of the major blood vessels can also cause CHF. Initially, MVI results in left-sided congestive heart failure. If left untreated, the heart failure may progress to involve both sides of the heart.
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What Is Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs
Congestive heart failure in dogs occurs when the heart is unable to pump an adequate amount of blood to the body, thus causing an increase in pressure and fluid that eventually leaks into the lungs and, less frequently, other major organs.
When fluid accumulates in or around a dogs lungs, it prohibits the lungs from expanding normally and prevents oxygen from moving into the bloodstream properly. This can cause a variety of symptoms and health issues.
CHF can be a slow-onset condition that develops over time.
Causes Of Congestive Heart Failure
A number of different factors can contribute to your dog developing CHF over the course of their lifetime.
Dogs can be born with a defect that causes CHF, but thats more rare only 5% of all canine heart disease is considered congenital. Some congenital heart diseases that can cause CHF include:
- Atrial septal defect, when theres a hole in the heart.
- Patent ductus arteriosus, the failure of a blood vessel to close normally at birth.
However, its more common for dogs to develop CHF during their lifetime due to one the following issues mentioned below.
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Diagnosing Chf In Dogs
The veterinarian will need your dogs complete medical history along with a complete physical exam to diagnose CHF. An accurate diagnosis will require a series of tests:
Blood and urine tests: Dogs with heart disease often have problems with their liver and kidneys.
Chest x-rays: These reveal the size and shape of the heart, as well as any changes in the lungs .
Electrocardiogram : This test detects abnormalities in the electrical activity of the heart .
Ultrasound : This tests examines the size, shape, and movement of the heart. It can also determine whether the heart is pumping efficiently. This diagnostic test should be performed only by a board-certified veterinary cardiologist .
Heartworm antigen test: This test detects abnormal proteins produced by heartworms.
CHF in dogs is broken down into four stages. Stages one and two present few symptoms, and owners may be unaware something is wrong until the condition has progressed to a later stage.
Lifestyle And Diet Changes Are Also Key For Managing Chf In Dogs
Your vet will be able to tailor your dogs medicine to their needs, but meds are just part of the equation. Youll also want to ask your veterinarian about lifestyle changes that can help your pup live a full life while managing their congestive heart failure.
Vet visits. For starters, youll likely need to schedule more frequent check-ups. During these visits, your vet can track the progression of your pups CHF, and you can discuss any changes that may need to be made to their treatment plan.
Low stress. Its a good idea to reduce stress at home and try not to over-exert your pet. This could mean keeping them off the stairs, taking shorter walks, etc.
Diet. In the earliest stages, a diet that has lower levels of sodium in your dogs diet can help slow the progression of CHF and help eliminate excess stress on the heart. CHF isnt really preventable, but you can make sure youre not feeding your dog a grain-free diet, which has been linked to heart disease in dogs.
Supplements. In these early stages, specific supplements and antioxidants might help. While those supplements can generally be found over the counter without a prescription, make sure to consult with your vet before starting your dog on any supplement regimen. Although supplements and nutrition can help to some degree, ultimately your dog will need to be started on lifelong medications to help slow down the progression of CHF.
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Types Of Heart Failure In Dogs
There are several types of heart failure in dogs, which are categorised according to the area of the heart thats affected.
The first type is known as left-sided heart failure. This is when the mitral valve fails. Its so named because the mitral valve is on the left-hand side of your poochs heart, separating the atrium and the ventricle. When this valve fails, blood can leak back through it and into your dogs lungs, causing pulmonary oedema. If left untreated, this left-sided heart failure can progress until the whole heart is affected.
The other type is right-sided heart failure. Right-sided heart failure is caused by a failure of the tricuspid valve, which is on the right side of your dogs heart separating the ventricle and the atrium. When the valve fails, blood leaks back through it into the atrium where it can then enter the systemic circulation which is the main circulatory system of your dogs body. As blood enters back into the body and congests circulation, it causes fluid to build up in other areas of the body. This often leads fluid to build up in the abdomen, a condition known as ascites, which causes a swollen belly. Another commonly affected area is your dogs limbs, where fluid can leak from their veins causing their legs to swell in a condition called peripheral oedema.
A third type of heart failure is biventricular failure, which occurs when both the valves in the left and right-hand side of the heart are not working properly.
The Signs Of A Dog Dying Of Heart Failure
If your dog is in the final stages of their heart failure, you may be curious about the typical signs of a dog suffering in their CHF.
To help you make the best decision for your furry friend, lets list some of the signs of a dog dying from their heart failure.
- Frequent coughing
- Coughing up foam, or bloody foam
- Labored breathing
- Weakness, or inability to exercise
- Fainting episodes
- Blue, purple, or muddy gums
- Constant panting
If your dog is experiencing any of the above symptoms, it may be time to discuss quality of life with your veterinarian.
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Does My Dog Have Heart Disease
Dogs can get heart problems just like humans do but the type and causes of any heart disease are very different from our own. The breed of your dog will determine which type of heart disease they are likely to get and at what age, lifestyle is much less relevant. There are two main types of canine heart disease one which affects smaller and older dogs called Mitral Valve Disease and another which affects bigger dogs at any age called Dilated Cardiomyopathy . A few dogs might also be born with a heart that has not formed properly, this is known as a congenital heart problem, which might cause them problems early in life or sometimes cause no problems at all.
DCM, on the other hand, affects large breed dogs and often at a younger age. Breeds such as Great Danes, Mastiffs, Dobermans, Boxers, St Bernards and Cocker and Springer Spaniels are prone. In this disease, the heart muscle itself becomes weak and flabby so that instead of a firm, strong, muscly organ powerfully squeezing blood round the body it becomes distended and rather baggy and struggles to do its job. Because it is a muscle that is affected there is rather less than the heart can do to compensate for the loss in performance.
How To Treat Heart Disease And Chf In Dogs
Unfortunately, there is no cure for CHF. But it is a manageable health issue, especially when caught early. Your vet will put your dog on a specific treatment plan that is specifically catered to them, depending on which stage of CHF your dog is experiencing. Here are some of the ways the disease can be treated.
ACE inhibitors. Common angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors are enalapril, benazepril, and captopril. These prescription medications can help reduce blood pressure and improve heart function. That can relieve stress to the heart while helping slow the progression of CHF.
Diuretics. Diuretics get the kidneys going, which can help get rid of fluid buildup in the lungs and belly. They will cause your dog to have to pee much more than usual, as it pulls fluid out of your dogs body. Make sure to take them outside as often as you can, or allow them to have easy access to use the bathroom. Otherwise, you may notice new urinary accidents in the home. This medication often referred to as a water pill, will also cause your dog to require more water intake as they lose fluids by urinating.
Vasodilators. These types of medications can help relax blood vessels, which decreases pressure on the heart. Your dogs cardiologist might pair vasodilators with a positive inotropic drug, which increases the force that your dogs heartbeats to help increase blood flow to the lungs and body.
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