Thursday, April 18, 2024

Signs Of Heart Failure In Dogs

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How Long Will My Dog Live With Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive Heart Failure & Enlarged Heart in Dogs

Once your dog has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, its prognosis depends on a variety of factors including the severity of its disease. Your veterinarian will be able to give you a more accurate estimate of the estimated survival time for your dog.

The majority of dogs with heart failure will not live for more than 2 years. Dr. Mark Rishniw, a veterinary cardiologist, suggested that around half of dogs will die from congestive heart failure from mitral valve disease within 8 to 10 months. As this is only an average, some dogs may die within days, weeks, or months from diagnosis.

What Increases My Dogs Risk Of Heart Disease

There are a few factors that could increase your dogs risk of heart disease which include their:

  • Age – Heart conditions in dogs occur more frequently with increasing age.

  • Body condition – Overweight dogs are more likely to develop heart disease.

  • Breed – In dogs, chronic valvular disease is more common in small breeds such as cavalier king Charles, spaniels, miniature poodles, cocker spaniels, Pomeranians and schnauzers. Myocardial disease is more common in large and giant breeds like Great Danes and Irish wolfhounds.

Signs And Symptoms Of Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

The signs and symptoms associated with CHF may vary, depending on the underlying heart disease and whether the right or left side of the heart is affected. In some cases, symptoms will be the same regardless of side.

These signs should be taken seriously and addressed with your veterinarian at first notice:

  • Change in gum and/or tongue color to a bluish gray

  • Increased heart rate

  • Crackling sound when listening to the lungs

Both right-sided and left-sided CHF ultimately lead to oxygen depletion in the tissues, and eventual heart failure.

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What Are The Last Stages Of Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

In the early stages of congestive heart failure, you may notice coughing and difficulty breathing. In the last stages of congestive heart failure, your dog will become even sicker. The fluid in the lungs builds up so much that it will make it hard for your dog to breathe.

Your dog will not be able to breathe well even when asleep. The cough may sound very moist. Dogs in this stage of heart failure are at risk for sudden death.

Be A Detective: Ask Detailed Questions

Heart Disease In Dogs

Take time to gather information from the patients history and physical examination, including details that may help determine whether the dog has heart failure and why it may have occurred.

Does the history support heart disease and heart failure?

  • Is there a history of heart disease in a relative or littermate?
  • Is congenital or acquired heart disease more likely? For instance, in a middle-aged to older dog, is the murmur a relatively new finding, suggesting an acquired disease, or has it been present since the dog was a puppy, suggesting undiagnosed congenital heart disease? See Consider These Cases .
  • Does the history of clinical sign progression support heart failure? Findings from the history that support heart failure are listed in Table 1. These findings, while not specific for heart failure, suggest that pulmonary edema may be present, especially when combined with signalment and abnormal findings on physical examination.

Does the physical examination support heart disease and heart failure?

  • A left apical systolic murmur is a characteristic finding in dogs with mitral regurgitation from DMVD, and a loud murmur is more likely with advanced disease. See Consider These Cases .

FIGURE 2. Lead II electrocardiogram demonstrating sinus tachycardia with a regular rhythm and heart rate of 175 beats/min in a dog with CHF .

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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 bodyâs needs, heart failure occurs.

Do Dogs Have Heart Attacks

In humans a heart attack usually refers to myocardial infarction . Myocardial infarction refers to death of the cells in an area of the heart muscle or myocardium. Cell death is usually due to oxygen deprivation caused by obstruction of the coronary blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscles. Heart attacks are rare in dogs but unexpected and sudden death in dogs diagnosed with any form of heart disease is possible.

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Preventing Dog Heart Disease

There is no surefire way to prevent heart disease in dogs, especially since several common types are congenital. But you can take steps to help your dog live a healthy life.

Its always important to feed your pooch a healthy diet that includes Taurine and Omega-3 Fatty Acids . Exercise is also a key part of having a healthy dog. While every dog requires exercise, if your pal has been diagnosed with heart disease, make sure to limit strenuous activity and carefully monitor your pooch afterward.

If you have a breed thats prone to heart disease, be vigilant and aware of the symptoms that accompany heart disease in dogs. The sooner you catch a potential symptom, the better the prognosis is for treatment.

Diagnosing Heart Failure In Dogs

Congestive heart failure in pets

The vet will probably want to rule out heartworms, and in addition to blood and urine tests, may order a chest x-ray and an ultrasound scan of the heart called an echocardiogram. An electrocardiogram that measures your dog’s heart rhythm can also be helpful. One or more of these tests will be necessary to determine what type of heart disease your dog has.

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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

Diagnosis Of Stage C Heart Failure

At the time of diagnosis of stage C heart failure, the mean age was 10.4±1.9 years. Median body weight was 6.5 kg and median body condition score was 7 . Muscle condition was scored as normal , mild muscle loss , or moderate muscle loss . Thirty dogs did not have muscle condition score noted in the medical record. Pulmonary edema , pericardial effusion , pleural effusion , and ascites were recorded as clinical signs of congestive heart failure, with some dogs having multiple sites of fluid accumulation. Dietary recommendations were made to 33 dogs including use of a lowsodium diet , low sodium treats , and fish oil supplementation . Exercise restriction was recommended for 33 dogs.

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Types Of Heart Disease In Dogs

Heart disease can either be present from birth or acquired over the course of a dogs life. Roughly 95% of dog heart disease is acquired, usually as a result of general wear and tear on the heart, but occasionally through injury or infection. Accounting for 70-75% of heart disease in dogs, chronic valvular disease is by far the most common.

Oxygen Therapy For Chf In Dogs

Dog Congestive Heart Failure When To Put Down

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.

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What Causes Dilated Cardiomyopathy In Dogs

The cause of dilated cardiomyopathy is unclear in most cases, but certain breeds appear to have an inherited predisposition. Large dog breeds are most often affected, although it also occurs in some smaller breeds, such as cocker spaniels.

Occasionally, dilated cardiomyopathy-like heart muscle dysfunction develops secondary to an identifiable cause such as a toxin or an infection. In contrast to people, heart muscle dysfunction in dogs and cats is almost never the result of chronic coronary artery disease, or heart attacks.

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What Is Heart Failure

Heart failure is the result of severe cardiac disease that impairs the heart’s blood flow and stops it from functioning. Blood flow is restricted and therefore unable to adequately supply the dog’s organs with oxygen. Another form of heart failure, called congestive heart failure, happens when blood flow is constricted or blocked, so blood pools in the dog’s body and organs.

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Can Heart Disease In Dogs Be Treated

Although treatments cannot reverse heart disease, your dog can live a relatively normal life if seen by a vet. Some treatments could include a new diet, daily medication or surgical intervention depending on the severity.The most important thing is to get your dog checked by a vet as soon as you notice any of the above symptoms so they can diagnose it quickly and start a treatment plan to allow your dog to live a happy, comfortable life.

If you have any questions or concerns about heart disease in dogs, please get in touch.

How Aspca Pet Health Insurance Can Help

Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs

Whether youre dealing with a congenital or acquired condition like heart disease or just taking your pal in for routine vaccines, an ASPCA Pet Health Insurance Plan can help you keep medical costs down. Its simple, too. Quote. Enroll. Cover. Easy as 1,2,3. Get a quote and enroll now!


*Pre-existing conditions are not covered. Waiting periods, annual deductible, co-insurance, benefit limits and exclusions may apply. For all terms and conditions visit Preventive and Wellness Care reimbursements are based on a schedule. Complete Coverage reimbursements are based on the invoice. Levels 1-4 reimbursements are based on usual and customary eligible costs. Products, schedules, and rates may vary and are subject to change. Discounts may vary and are subject to change. More information available at checkout.

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Because Theyre Part Of The Family

Nearly 8 million dogs suffer from heart disease. Thats 10% of all dogs in the United States. And the older your dog is, the higher the risk. Up to 75% of senior dogs have some type of heart condition, and unfortunately, most go undetected.

Dont risk losing part of your family to an often treatable heart condition. If you have concerns, seek medical advice quickly. Our board-certified dog cardiologists are here to help.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy In Dogs

Dilated cardiomyopathy is less common, but still affects around 5-10% of dogs. Primarily concerning larger breeds such as dobermans, great danes, and boxers, DCM occurs when the chambers of the heart enlarge and the muscles become stretched and weak. This prevents the heart from pumping blood properly.

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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.

Signs Of Heart Disease In Dogs

The Top 5 Signs of Heart Disease in Dogs

Heart disease in dogs is like many progressive diseases where it can take a long time for symptoms to develop. If your pup displays any of the following symptoms or behaviors, schedule an appointment with your vet to have them checked out:

  • Dry cough that follows physical activity or intensifies at night
  • Shortness of breath or elevated breathing
  • Restlessness when sleeping
  • Need help finding a vet in your area? No problem.

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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.

    What Is Heart Failure In Dogs

    Heart failure is a complex condition that can develop from congenital or acquired heart disease in dogs. Depending on the specific disease process, it can affect the left and right sides of the heart, manifesting in respiratory signs and weakness due to:

    • Fluid retention: Congestion sometimes called backward failure
    • Pump failure: Low cardiac output sometimes called forward failure.

    While the underlying heart disease can vary depending on age and breed, chronic heart failure management for degenerative mitral valve disease and dilated cardiomyopathy initially relies on a combination of a diuretic, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, and pimobendan, with additional medications added as necessary.

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    What Treatments Are Available For Dogs With Congestive Heart Failure

    During an acute congestive heart failure crisis, your vet will give your dog injections of various medications such as furosemide to help remove excess fluid from the body. They may also apply nitroglycerin ointment to help dilate the veins. Pimobendan is a pill that helps the heart contract better. Occasionally, dopamine or dobutamine are needed in severe cases. Sedatives or stress reducers are also often given to help your pup relax and breathe easier as the other medications start to take effect.

    Long-term treatments to continue at home once your dog has been stabilized include:

    • Furosemide or spironolactone pills given multiple times per day to reduce fluid overload
    • Pimobendan to help the heart contract more efficiently
    • Enalapril or benazepril to reduce blood pressure
    • Appropriate medications to treat any arrhythmia that may be present
    • Low sodium diet!

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    Treating Heart Disease In Dogs

    Common symptoms of heart failure in pets

    Sadly, heart disease cant be cured, but with early diagnosis and treatment, dogs can still maintain a good quality of life. Several medications are available to manage and slow down the progression of heart disease and heart failure your vet will be able to suggest the best option for your individual dog.

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    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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