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.
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
- 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.
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 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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Make Recommendations For Home Care That Considers The Pets And Care Takers Quality Of Life
Involve owners in monitoring their dogs heart disease:
Set up a recheck schedule to monitor disease progression, potential adverse effects of medications, patient quality of life, and any challenges faced by the owner. Recheck evaluations for a dog in heart failure are often recommended every 2 to 4 months, or sooner, if medications are adjusted or clinical decompensation occurs.
Educate owners about clinical signs that indicate their dogs need medical attention, including cough , breathing difficulty, anorexia or vomiting, and lethargy or collapse.
Encourage owners to record resting or sleeping breathing rates at home. Many dogs have a resting breathing rate of less than 35 breaths/minute, often in the mid-teens to mid-twenties. An elevated breathing rate that is repeatable within the hour, especially if the dog has breathing difficulty or a decrease in appetite or activity level, should prompt medical attention.
Additional points to consider:
- Ensure the dog is eating and taking its medications. Make recommendations for a palatable diet and advise the owner to avoid high-salt foods and treats when possible.
- Set activity level expectations, which varies for each dog. Light activity is acceptable and encouraged, especially if it enhances quality of life, but strenuous activity needs to be avoided.
- Consider the owners lifestyle when making treatment recommendations. For instance, therapy given more than twice daily may be difficult for some owners.
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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.
Congenital Heart Disease In Dogs
Your beloved pet can have heart problems just like you. Know the symptoms so you can get your companion the help they need.
Heart disease can affect one side of the heart or sometimes both sides. It can progress slowly and may take years to spot.
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Treatment Options For Heart Failure
Once your vet has diagnosed your dog with congestive heart failure with a physical exam and diagnostic imaging, there will be a few treatment options that can offer your dog more time.
These management options will only be a band aid for your dogs heart disease, but can offer them much needed comfort as the condition progresses.
Some of the most common treatment options for dogs with CHF include:
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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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.
Medication For Heart Failure In Dogs
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.
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Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease
DMVD is the most common acquired heart disease in dogs. Common clinical signs and pathophysiology include:
- Heart murmur due to mitral valve regurgitation, leading to left atrial and left ventricular dilatation
- Progressive dilatation of the left ventricle, ultimately leading to systolic dysfunction
- Significant left atrial enlargement, leading to atrial arrhythmias
- Development of pulmonary hypertension, which can contribute to clinical signs, such as respiratory distress and syncope.
Not all dogs with DMVD will develop heart failure, characterized by pulmonary edema . In general, dogs with heart enlargement are at greater risk for heart failure, but only 30% of dogs with asymptomatic DMVD develop clinical signs and require heart failure therapy.
Common Signs Of Heart Disease In Dogs
Persistent Cough If your dog has a cough that doesnt clear up in a few days, heart disease may be the culprit. Dogs with heart disease cough for many reasons. In some dogs, fluid can accumulate in the lungs when the heart isnt pumping efficiently. This backup of blood in the lungs can result in fluid leaking out of blood vessels and accumulating in lung tissue, resulting in cough. Other dogs may have heart diseases that lead to heart enlargement. The enlarged heart can press on airways and stimulate coughing. Any persistent cough that lasts more than a few days should be checked by a veterinarian.
Fainting or Collapse When heart function is less than optimal, vital organs such as the brain can become deprived of nutrients, especially oxygen. Blood flow to the brain can be compromised in dogs with heart disease, leading to fainting or collapse. Syncope and collapse in dogs with heart disease usually are triggered by exercise, although sometimes coughing can trigger an episode.
Difficulty Breathing Dogs with heart disease often will have difficulty breathing . A dog may breathe more rapidly, or with more force. Some dogs will sit or stand with their legs wide apart and with their neck stretched out. Dogs with severe heart disease have more trouble breathing when lying down, and will often sit or stand for long periods of time.
Tests Helpful in Heart Disease Diagnosis
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What Causes Chf In Dogs
Congestive heart failure can be caused by any heart disease. There are no specific genetic predispositions for heart failure, but there are some dog breeds that are more likely to develop heart disease than others.
Breeds that are genetically predisposed to heart disease include:
- Shetland Sheepdogs
Heart disease, and therefore congestive heart failure, are more common in senior dogs. Scar tissue can build up on the heart valves over time, leading to turbulent blood flow and leakage from the valves. These changes require the heart to work harder, which can contribute to CHF.
Being Careful About Treats
Many dogs with this condition shouldnt be fed human food or lots of dog treats. They often struggle to digest food properly and you will want to adhere to a set diet for their needs. You might also need to make sure that your dog is not eating too much and gaining weight which can further tax your dogs heart during normal daily activities.
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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 thema healthy dietshould 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 preventobesity, 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 becausegum disease and poororal healthare 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.
Do Dogs Have Heart Attacks
Although it is very rare, the unexpected and sudden death of dogs from heart disease is possible. Some of the main risk factors that increase a dogs chances of having a heart attack include obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and serious bacterial infections.
If you believe your dog is having a heart attack take them to the nearest emergency care facility as soon as possible. There is a version of CPR that can be performed on dogs, however, it requires special training to do it properly. If done incorrectly, CPR can result in further injuries to your dog and delay getting proper medical attention from a veterinarian.
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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.
Diagnosis Of Advanced Heart Failure
All 54 dogs had successful resolution of initial Stage C congestive heart failure. The median time during which dogs were in stage C before advancing to advanced heart failure was 163 days . At the time of diagnosis of advanced heart failure, dogsâ mean age was 10.9Â±1.9 years. Median body weight was 6.7 kg and median body condition score was 5 . Muscle condition for the 36 dogs for which this information was available was categorized as normal , mild muscle loss , and moderate muscle loss , with no dogs having severe muscle loss. No muscle condition score recorded for 18 dogs . Eighteen dogs were hospitalized on the day of the diagnosis of advanced heart failure, with a median hospitalization duration of 1 day .
The cardiac rhythms at the time of diagnosis of advanced heart failure included sinus rhythm , atrial premature contractions , sinus tachycardia , atrial fibrillation , and thirddegree atrioventricular block . Two dogs were noted to have an arrhythmia in the medical record but the specific type was not recorded. Systolic blood pressure at the time of diagnosis of advanced heart failure was 131Â±29 mm Hg . Mean laboratory values recorded included: Albumin=3.8Â±0.3 g/dL , BUN=31Â±15 mg/dL , chloride=105Â±6 mEq/L , creatinine=1.1Â±0.5 mg/dL , packed cell volume=50Â±6% , potassium=4.1Â±0.6 mEq/L , and sodium=146Â±4 mEq/L . A number of laboratory abnormalities were present hypochloremia , hyponatremia , hemoconcentration , azotemia , hypokalemia , and hyperkalemia .
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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.
Surgery For Heart Disease In Dogs
Sometimes, surgery might be required to correct an injury or fault inside the heart mechanism. For instance, if your dog has a torn valve, then surgery can be carried out to fix it. Some dogs might have a pacemaker fitted to regulate their heartbeat.
However, most cases of heart failure in dogs do not require surgery to treat, and surgical options would be limited and complex. The majority of dogs with heart failure are prescribed the medications listed above and advised on lifestyle changes to help manage their condition. Both a healthy lifestyle and daily medication will prevent further deterioration of your poochs heart and it will improve their quality of life so that they can continue to live a long and happy life.
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