Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs: Why It Doesn’t Have to be Fatal

By August 21, 2017Blog
congestive heart failure in dogs

We understand that your dog is far more to you than just a loving companion–he is a close and important member of your family and he deserves the very best. This is why if you invest great time, effort, and money into preventative care you may automatically expect that all veterinary appointments and examinations will go smoothly and your dog will live a long, full, healthy life. It can, therefore, be incredibly distressing to find out that your dog is suffering from any sort of health condition, especially one as serious as congestive heart failure. It’s true that congestive heart failure is not to be taken lightly, but if you understand the basic symptoms of heart failure in dogs, you can take quick action to your veterinarian to help protect your furry friend against a fatal outcome.

Dog Heart Symptoms

As is the case with other heart conditions that can occur in dogs, congestive heart failure occurs when the heart fails to perform properly or adequately. More specifically, congestive heart failure is a result of a heart disease that results in the heart’s inability to pump an adequate amount of blood. This can result in an increase of both pressure and fluid, which prevents the normal expansion of the lungs and thereby prevents a normal influx of oxygenated blood into the bloodstream. The fluid also subsequently leaks out to the lungs or other areas of the body.

One of the primary heart disease symptoms in dogs is deep, rapid breathing as the dog struggles to achieve optimal oxygenation levels. The accumulation of fluid in their lungs can also hinder their ability to move and exercise well, which means they may appear to be lethargic and without a normal, healthy appetite. Pet owners who notice any of these symptoms in their dog should immediately contact their veterinarian so they can schedule a full physical examination and any needed medical testing.

Treating Congestive Heart Failure

It’s important to understand that a dog who is suffering from congestive heart failure must have first been suffering from heart disease. This is why regular veterinary checkups and preventative care are so critical. Once a dog has been diagnosed with heart disease and congestive heart failure, treatment, and their prognosis depend largely upon how severe the condition is. Treatment goals will focus on increasing the amount of blood that the heart is pumping into the lungs and the rest of the body and reducing the amount of fluid and pressure buildup that has occurred.

If caught early on and aggressively treated, a dog’s congestive heart failure can be successfully addressed so as to improve both the length and quality of their life. Depending on a dog’s specific situation, the veterinarian may recommend medications, supplements, diet changes, and more in order to bring about the best possible results. Some of the most common medications that are used to treat congestive heart failure in dogs include ACE inhibitors, diuretics that help remove excess fluid buildup, vasodilators to relax blood vessels in the body so the heart can more easily pump blood, and positive inotropes to increase the force with which the heart is beating. Dietary changes usually include reduction of salt intake, as well as any other changes the veterinarian feels is necessary in order to improve the dog’s health and condition.

When considering the subject of congestive heart failure in dogs, the most important thing to remember is the fact that dogs who are suffering from any sort of heart condition will most definitely be displaying symptoms that are not normal. When this occurs, it’s always best to check with your veterinarian and ensure that your dog receives the immediate help and treatment they need to prevent an exacerbation of their condition.

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