Sunday, July 21, 2024

What Is Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

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Congestive Heart Failure & Enlarged Heart in Dogs

While most cases of heart disease are associated with age or genetic predisposition, there are two preventable forms of heart diseaseheartworm disease and diet-associated cardiomyopathy.

Heartworms are a blood-borne parasite, spread by mosquitoes. In order to prevent heartworm disease, your dog should receive year-round heartworm prevention. There are several forms of prevention available. Talk to your veterinarian to determine which option is best for your dog.

Diet-associated cardiomyopathy is still being researched, but one particular form of heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy may be connected to the food a dog is eating and possible nutritional deficiencies. Talk to your veterinarian to ensure that your dog is receiving an appropriate, well-balanced diet.

Dog Heart Failure Symptoms

At this point, you begin to notice a behavior change.

Congestive heart failure is the inability of the heart to pump enough blood for the whole body and preserve the circulatory system.

The diagnosis of this disease can be very distressing, especially since certain breeds of dogs are genetically predisposed.

But you should be aware that it can be contained with specific treatment and some lifestyle changes.

This is why recognizing early signs of congestive heart failure in dogs is crucial.

The first signs your dog is likely to show are related to the affected side of the heart.

If he is suffering from the left side, the blood arriving in the atrium is pushed back to the lungs causing a buildup of fluids that we call pulmonary edema.

The dog shows:

If the right side is affected, blood arriving in the right atrium is pushed back to the rest of the body, leading to a build-up of fluids in certain cavities and in particular the belly. We then speak of ascites. Some veins may leak, the blood then stagnates in the limbs, this is peripheral edema.

Note that if mitral insufficiency is left untreated, it can severely damage the heart and ultimately affect the right side, spreading the disease to the whole heart.

What To Do The Night Before You Put Your Dog Down

Bring the propsyour dogs favorite comforts.

Feel free to play it on your phone during the euthanasia. Further, consider bringing along a favorite toy or comfort item. Finally, whether at home or at the veterinary hospital, your dog will be lying down for the euthanasia. Plan to use your dogs favorite dog bed.

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What Are Symptoms Of Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

There are several symptoms and signs of congestive heart failure in dogs. By keeping them in mind, you can speak to your vet about their presence in your dog and move forward with further diagnostics if required.

Since the set of symptoms for CHF may relate to a variety of other conditions and diseases, you should keep an eye on your dog to determine if they are going through any of these challenges. If your dog seems to have any issues that are associated with CHF, you should reach out to a skilled vet right away.

Sometimes, indicators of other conditions such as signs of anxiety in dogs can be mistaken for CHF. Getting a professional opinion lets you steer clear of these confusing diagnoses. Due to this reason, you should not compromise on reaching out to a vet.

Caring For A Dog With Congestive Heart Failure

Holistic Options For Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

While there is no cure when congestive heart failure develops, proper care and management can help your pet live longer and have a better quality of life. The following measures are important in the management of your pets heart condition:

1. Closely monitor the following:

  • Your pets food and water intake
  • Respiratory rate

2. Keeping a record of these symptoms and activities will make it easier for your vet to evaluate your pet.

3. Be familiar with your pets medications. Make sure to ask your vet about the purpose and possible side effects of each medication. The correct dosage and administration are very important.

4. Dont skip your pets check-ups. Your vet needs to monitor your pets condition and there may be a need to review and make adjustments to your pets medications. If you have any questions and/or concerns about your pet, its a good idea to write them down before your pet visits the veterinary hospital so you can discuss them with your vet. During your pets check-ups, your vet may perform specific tests to monitor your pets vital functions.

5. Your pet will benefit from a low salt diet because heart failure can increase the tendency to retain water and salt. Your vet may prescribe a special diet that is appropriate for your dogs condition.

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Signs Of Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

The signs of early congestive heart failure in dogs might not be noticeable at first, especially to the untrained eye. It could be as small as the dog not wanting to go for walks anymore or not go up and down the stairs as frequently. As heart disease progresses, you might notice light coughing, especially in the morning, or see that your dog is breathing faster, even when resting.

Reluctance to move around could also be signs of aging or arthritis. Even little changes in your dogs behavior or activity are worth checking out with a visit to the veterinarian.

In the middle stages of heart failure, the dog may start having trouble breathing during exercise or may not be sleeping through the night without coughing, Dr. Lefbom says. The more severe stage of heart failure requires emergency care for a pet that is truly struggling to breathe.

If you know your dog has heart disease, ask your veterinarian which worsening signs you need to look out for and bring to their attention.

Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs Life Expectancy

There is no magic number we can offer up as the life expectancy of a dog with congestive heart failure. Depending on how severe your dogs condition is and how well they respond to treatment, they may only be given a few weeks or months to live, or they might be able to live out a long and comfortable life.

Normally, dogs can live a long and happy life provided they receive daily medication. Meanwhile, animals with advanced stages of heart failure can survive for 6-14 months after diagnosis.

However, heart failure in dogs thats left untreated will get progressively worse and become fatal.

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Recovery And Management Of Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

Its possible for a dog with CHF to live a happy life. But proper diet, monitored exercise, medications, and good overall care are necessary. Regular check-ups are important for monitoring a dogs condition and assessing the effectiveness of treatments. Any change in health should be addressed immediately.

Which Dogs Are Most At Risk

Congestive heart failure in pets

Congestive heart failure tends to happen more often in middle-aged and older dogs, but it can affect dogs of any age, breed, or sex, Dr. Klein explains. Certain breeds are predisposed to dilated cardiomyopathy, including the Doberman Pinscher, Great Dane, Boxer, and Cocker Spaniel, suggesting that there might be a genetic component to this disease.

Small dog breeds may develop CHF due to mitral valve issues, which are the most common cause of this condition. Some large and giant dog breeds are prone to developing CHF because of issues like dilated heart muscles or cardiomyopathy.

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Other Causes Of Heart Failure

One of the most horrifying causes of heart failure is a parasite called heartworm. These worms make their home inside your dogs heart and can block up the valves inside the organ, or fill up an entire chamber of the heart.

Obesity puts increased pressure on a dogs heart because it needs to pump harder to be able to move blood throughout the larger body. Being overweight or obese will increase your dogs risk of developing heart disease, which in turn leads to heart failure.

Your dogs diet can contribute to your dogs risk of developing heart disease, and as a consequence, heart failure. Firstly, a lack of the amino acid taurine in your dogs diet can lead to the development of dilated cardiomyopathy, a form of heart disease.

A bacterial infection in your dogs body could also migrate and infect their heart, causing inflammation. Most of these bacteria enter through the mouth or grow in your dogs mouth if they have poor oral health. There is a link between the development of gum disease and an increased risk of heart failure in dogs .

Other infections could also cause havoc on your pups precious heart. One of the most notorious is parvovirus, which can infect the heart muscle and cause heart failure.

Other health conditions can raise your dogs risk of heart failure. For example, hypothyroidism often lowers a dogs heart rate below the normal rhythm, and abnormal heart rhythms can contribute to heart failure.

How Is Chf Diagnosed In Dogs

Bruiser needed an echocardiogram , which revealed degeneration of the mitral heart valve and subsequent heart enlargement. This is common in older dogs.

A full physical examination will be needed to determine the cause and whether there is an abnormal heart size, fluid accumulation, pleural effusion, and heart defects.

Steps toward a diagnosis of congestive heart failure in dogs:

  • Listening to the heart with a stethoscope
  • An electrocardiogram . Sometimes an ultrasound is done as well.

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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.

What Are The Different Stages Of Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

What you need to know about Congestive Heart Failure in dogs

The stages of congestive heart failure in dogs are classified into 4 groups. It is worth noting that certain clinical signs are more common at each stage.

Stage 1

This is the beginning of a dogs heart degeneration. Clinical symptoms of the condition are yet to show themselves.

Stage 2

Early symptoms of congestive heart failure start to take place. Affected dogs in this stage often have breathing difficulties, low energy, and slow respiratory rate.

Stage 3

What are the final stages of congestive heart failure? Stage 3 is one of the final stages of congested heart failure in dogs. Around this time, dogs with CHF become tired more quickly. Chronic coughing and severe difficulty in breathing may arise too.

Stage 4

What are the last stages of congestive heart failure in dogs? Stage 4 is the last stage of CHF in dogs. Pooches that are in this stage will experience breathing difficulties even when at rest.

Other symptoms to be aware of are a bloated abdomen, swollen limbs, and blue-coloured gums.

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Diagnosis Of Dog Heart Failure

Your vet will give your dog a full exam.

It begins by listening to the heart and lungs for a heart murmur and crackles in the lungs.

The heart murmur is caused by the increase in circulation in the valves.

The dog may also exhibit a somewhat purple tongue indicating a lack of oxygen in the blood.

The veterinarian can also detect a high heart rate as well as high blood pressure.

All of these signs will prompt your vet to further investigate by practicing:

  • a chest x-ray to assess the size of the heart
  • an ultrasound of the heart to detail the actual state of the heart chambers
  • an electrocardiogram to check the hearts electrical current and assess any abnormalities in the electrical conduction
  • blood tests to assess kidney and liver function

Medications For Cfh In Dogs

The specific medication used to treat CHF in dogs will vary depending on the underlying cause and severity. Your veterinarian or cardiologist will determine the appropriate drugs, dosages and frequency, and should be consulted before any changes.

The mainstay of congestive heart failure treatment medically is typically diuretics . Diuretics decrease the fluid accumulation in the lungs, abdomen or legs, depending on the initial cause of heart failure.

Pimobendan is another commonly used medication in the treatment of CHF. This drug improves the ability of the heart to contract, increases pumping action, opens blood vessels and reduces the amount of work the heart has to do to perform.

In treating myxomatous mitral valve disease and dilated cardiomyopathy, Pimobendan has been shown to delay the onset of heart failure and increase overall survival time, when started before symptoms appear .

Other medications that can be useful in CHF may include Digoxin, Diltiazem, Angiotensin-converting Enzyme inhibitors, beta-blockers, and calcium channel blockers. Your dog will likely be placed on a combination of medications tailored by your veterinarianto address their specific CHF and underlying heart disease.

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My Opinion On Pimobendane

Twice in my life, I have had to accompany a dog with mitral insufficiency.

The first was placed on Pimobendane upon diagnosis of his disease.

Unfortunately, this drug did not improve his symptoms as expected but increased his cardiac arrhythmia and worsened his shortness of breath.

I had to refuse this drug after researching this substance.

I learned that it is tested on humans only in Japan but in moderation due to its side effects, including the dangerous cardiac arrhythmia it causes.

Note that the symptoms were the same as my dogs, namely an erratic heartbeat, severe shortness of breath, and precipitous exhaustion which led to, as far as my dog is concerned, a very shortened survival.

For the second cardiac dog, I immediately refused the introduction of Pimobendane and followed the protocol I detail above.

His quality of life was thus maintained for two consecutive years without pulmonary edema.

But when his condition deteriorated somewhat and he experienced his first edema, a veterinarian unresponsive to natural solutions injected him with Pimobendane without informing me.

The same effects occurred, the heartbeat became erratic, and the dog quickly exhausted.

He only got over this malfunction for a few weeks.

My personal experience has shown me that it makes more sense to treat heart failure in dogs in a natural and balanced way.

Accept no more than an ACE, an Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme inhibitor like Enalapril to support his heart.

Causes Of Congestive Heart Failure

How to help your dog with 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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Treating Heart Failure In Dogs

Treatment for heart failure in dogs will vary based on the cause of the condition. The aim of any treatment is to improve your dogs quality of life and to extend their lifespan by improving their hearts function and controlling the effects of heart failure. This will include lowering a dogs blood pressure, removing excess fluid from the body, and controlling any abnormal rhythms.

Modern medical practice has improved the outlook of dogs with heart failure significantly but there is no magic cure. Medication and lifestyle management simply slow down the progression of heart disease and extend the dogs lifespan, whilst offering them a much better quality of life.

When your dog is first diagnosed with heart failure, they might require prompt and aggressive treatment. For example, if they are suffering from acute respiratory distress, they must be given oxygen and placed in an intensive care unit. This is often done by placing the pooch in an oxygen cage. They might also conduct a chest drain, which will require the use of a needle in your dogs chest to remove some of the excess fluid.

As well as immediate treatment to prevent any acute and serious problems, a dog will be given various drugs to control the effects of heart failure. Many of these medicines will need to be continued for the rest of the dogs life.

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