Congestive heart failure in dogs occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to the body, resulting in an increase in pressure and fluid leakage into the lungs and, less commonly, other important organs.
When fluid builds up in or around a dog’s lungs, it stops the lungs from expanding correctly and prevents oxygen from properly entering the circulation. This might result in a number of symptoms and health problems. CHF can be a gradual onset illness that worsens over time.
Signs and symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure in dogs
Depending on the underlying heart condition and whether the right or left side of the heart is damaged, the signs and symptoms of CHF may differ. In some circumstances, the symptoms are the same on both sides.
These warning symptoms must be taken carefully and discussed with your veterinarian as soon as possible:
- Breathing problems / lack of breath
- Inability to work out
- Coughing that won’t stop
- Before sleep, you’re pacing and having trouble calming down.
- Bloated stomach (due to fluid buildup)
- Loss of weight
- Gums and/or tongue turn a bluish gray tint (a result of poor oxygen flow)
- Heart rate has increased.
- When listening to the lungs, there is a crackling sound.
- Both right-sided and left-sided CHF eventually result in tissue oxygen deprivation and heart failure.
What causes Congestive Heart Failure in dogs?
CHF can be caused by a number of different reasons. Some dogs are born with congenital cardiac problems that cause this ailment, but these flaws might take years to manifest. Congenital heart disease is uncommon in dogs, accounting for just approximately 5% of all cases.
The following are examples of congenital cardiac diseases:
Insufficiency of the mitral valve (leaky valve disease). While mitral disease can be congenital, it usually manifests in middle or late life.
Cardiomyopathy (dilated cardiomyopathy) is a condition in which the heart (an enlarged heart). An atrial septal defect is a hole in the middle of the heart (hole in the heart)
PDA stands for patent ductus arteriosus (failure of a particular blood vessel to close normally at the time of birth)
Even dogs with healthy hearts at birth might acquire heart disease later in life. Dogs, like people, can acquire health problems that contribute to CHF as they become older. Other causes of canine CHF include:
Heartworms can obstruct heart valves or even obstruct a whole heart chamber. See guide about heartworms here.
Hormones: Thyroid hormones, in particular, can have an impact on the heart’s function and performance. Hypothyroidism, for example, causes a dog’s heart rate to be slower than normal.
Parvovirus: This virus has the ability to infect the heart muscles of dogs, resulting in sudden heart failure. Learn more about comforting dog with porvo.
Bacterial infections: Bacteria in the mouth can enter the circulation and bind to heart valves, producing inflammation in the heart’s lining or valves. (This is why excellent oral hygiene is so vital.) (For more information, see our page on how to brush your dog’s teeth.)
Nutritional inadequacy: A shortage in vitamin E or selenium can induce heart muscle injury.
Read also: How to comfort a Dog with Parvo
Do dogs have heart attacks?
Although it is extremely unusual, dogs can die suddenly and unexpectedly from cardiac illness. Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and major bacterial infections are some of the key risk factors that enhance a dog’s chances of having a heart attack.
If you think your dog is experiencing a heart attack, get them to an emergency clinic as quickly as possible. There is a type of CPR that can be administered on dogs, but it takes specific training to do it correctly. CPR, if performed incorrectly, can cause more harm to your dog and delay receiving adequate medical care from a veterinarian.
Treatment for Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs
Treatment is determined on the severity of the underlying cardiac disease. Although there is no cure for CHF, there are effective therapies that can help you live a better life.
If a congenital defect, such as a PDA, is the cause of CHF, prompt surgical repair may assist to reverse heart failure. When treating CHF, the objective is to minimize fluid accumulation and increase the volume of blood pumped to the lungs and the rest of the body.
Some of the drugs, supplements, and diets that may be suggested are as follows:
ACE inhibitors (enalapril, benazepril, captopril) lower blood volume and pressure, alleviate cardiac stress, and prevent heart muscle degeneration.
Diuretics aid in the removal of excess fluid from the lungs and belly by stimulating the kidneys.
Vasodilators and positive inotropic drugs: Vasodilators relax blood arteries and lower heart pressure, making it easier for the heart to pump blood. Positive inotropes boost the heart’s contractile power, allowing it to pump more blood to the lungs and the rest of the body.
Nutrition: Reducing salt in your dog’s food can help to prevent fluid accumulation in the body. Vitamin B, taurine, and carnitine supplements, as well as antioxidants like coenzyme Q10 and vitamin E, can all aid. (Before giving your dog any vitamins, consult your veterinarian.) Finally, for heart health, a food that allows your dog to maintain a healthy weight is critical.
Read also: How to Comfort a Dog with a Fever (Step By Step Guide)
Summary of Congestive Heart Failure in dogs
Congestive Heart Failure is quite frequent in elderly dogs, affecting 75 percent of them. While there is no cure for the illness, medicines and lifestyle modifications can help manage it.
Because it’s not always simple to identify in its early stages, prevention is crucial; for canine cardiovascular health, adequate food, exercise, and weight maintenance are essential. Be aware of the signs and symptoms so you can get care as soon as you believe CHF is a problem, and make sure your yearly vet checkups are up to date.