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Dogs

Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

What Is Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs?

Congestive heart failure (CHF) in dogs occurs due to the heart's lack of ability to pump a sufficient amount of blood to other parts of the body causing fluid to back up into the belly or the lungs and, less frequently, other major organs.

There are a number of factors that can result in cardiac failure. CHF in dogs can either be congenital or acquired, although about 90% of cases are considered to be acquired. Almost 75% of older dogs have some form of heart disease. Congestive heart failure itself is not a disease: it is a resultant condition of underlying heart disease.

Many dogs that have CHF live absolutely normal lives without showing any health issues or related symptoms. Left-sided CHF is the most common type of CHF in dogs. Dysfunction in the left ventricle - the main pumping power source of the heart is gradually weakened.

The untreated Congestive heart failure shows clinical signs usually within 6 months. Dogs with CHF have more than a 50% mortality rate by one year of age if left untreated. After congestive heart failure has developed due to various causes, Life expectancy is variable and it is typically around 6-14 months.

If you suspect your dog has irregular heartbeats regularly, especially if he shows serious symptoms, for peace of mind, take him to your veterinarian.

Symptoms Of Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

Congenital:

  • Intermittent cough
  • Heart murmur
  • Tiredness
  • Exercise intolerance

Cardiovascular:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing (known as “tachypnea”).
  • Respiratory distress
  • Fluid accumulation in the lungs (pleural effusion), within the lungs (pulmonary edema), and abdomen (ascites).

Inflammatory:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Pale gums
  • Collapsing or fainting
  • Weight loss

Toxic:

  • Extreme lethargy
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting

Infectious:

  • Diarrhea (sometimes bloody).
  • Fever
  • Labored breathing
  • Vomiting

Metabolic:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Abdominal distention
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of interest in exercise.

Neoplastic:

  • Weak heartbeat
  • No appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Vomiting

Injury:

  • Frothing at the mouth.
  • Sudden coughing
  • Collapse
  • Slow/fast/erratic heart rate.

Treatment Options For Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

The specific treatment depends on the underlying cause of Congestive heart failure.

  • Congestive Heart Failure: An angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor (benazepril, lisinopril, or enalapril), diuretics like spironolactone, furosemide, etc. Extra medications that might be used are sildenafil, valsartan/ sacubitril/, and torsemide.
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus: Lateral Thoracotomy (intercostal thoracotomy, Cardiac catheter-based (minimally-invasive surgery) occlusion, and Transarterial PDA coil embolization.
  • Pericardial Disease: Pericardiocentesis, Partial or subtotal pericardiectomy.
  • Atrial Fibrillation: Dilitiazem, beta-adrenergic blockers such as atenolol, calcium-channel blockers such as diltiazem, and Digoxin (Lanoxin, Toloxin).
  • Atrioventricular Block: Propantheline or Theophylline.
  • Second-degree AV block and third-degree AV Block is Pacemaker Implantation.
  • Ventricular Tachycardia - Mexiletine, Lidocaine, and Sotalol.
  • Diuretics(water pills): To reduce fluid buildup in the body by eliminating extra fluid and salt. Spironolactone, Furosemide etc.

Home Remedies For Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

Keep in mind natural remedies may not clear the problem, but they may help to reduce some of the symptoms.

Herbs: Ginger, Hawthorn, Dandelion, Parsley, Cayenne.

Dietary Supplements: Carnitine-rich foods, L-Taurine, Coenzyme Q10, Magnesium and Selenium, Vitamins A, B6, C, and E.

Prevention Of Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

There are no dependable methods to prevent heart disease in dogs, particularly since few of the common types are hereditary. But you can take steps to help your dog live a healthy life.

Healthy diet: Always feed your pup a healthy diet that includes Omega-3 Fatty Acids (fish oil) and Taurine (amino acid).

Adequate exercise: Exercise is good for cardiac health. However, when your pup has been diagnosed with heart disease, make sure to limit strenuous exercises.

Parasite preventatives: Flea and tick preventatives such as heartworm preventatives.

Dental care: Dental diseases have a strong association with heart diseases, so dental health should be a top priority for pet owners.

Affected Dog Breeds Of Congestive Heart Failure

Boston Terrier, Newfoundland Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Fox Terrier, Miniature Pinscher, Miniature Poodle, Toy Poodle, Miniature Schnauzer, Pekingese, Pomeranian, Whippet

Additional Facts For Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

  1. Causes:
  • Cardiac Causes: Arrhythmias, congenital heart defects (especially Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy, patent ductus arteriosus, Pulmonic Stenosis), Heart muscle disease (such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, etc), myocarditis (inflammation of the myocardium), Pericardial disease, valvular diseases such as severe valve leakage and enlargement of the cardiac chambers (chronic degenerative mitral valve disease), trauma to the heart muscle (such as a dog being hit by a car), and age-related changes.
  • Non-cardiac Causes: Inflammation of the pancreas, severe anemia (low red blood cell count), gastric dilatation-volvulus (stomach twists around filled fills with large amounts of air), low blood magnesium, neurologic disease (i.e. brain tumors), diseases of the spleen, liver or GI tract, muscular dystrophy, endocrine disease (i.e., of the thyroid gland, adrenal glands); anesthetic agents, toxins and medications.
  1. Types:

Right-sided Congestive Heart Failure:

This is caused by dysfunction in the right ventricle and its inability to pump an adequate amount of blood to the lungs.

Left-sided Congestive Heart Failure:

This is the most common type of CHF in dogs. The left ventricle - the most muscular section of the heart is gradually weakened and results in CHF.

Biventricular Failure:

This happens when both the left and right ventricles are not functioning properly.

  1. Mortality:

The untreated cardiac failure shows clinical signs usually within 6 months. Dogs with CHA have a more than 50% mortality rate by one year of age if left untreated.

After congestive heart failure has developed due to various causes, Life expectancy is variable and it is typically around 6-14 months.

  1. Diagnosis:
  • Routine hematology, Urinalysis
  • Serum chemistry profile
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Cardiac ultrasound
  • Echocardiography
  1. Prognosis:

When detected early and given appropriate treatment for the underlying causes of CHF, most dogs live a normal life. Unless there are complications from already developed heart failure or other heart defects, there is rarely any need for medications in the future.

When To See A Vet For Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs?

Time to visit the vet clinic for an examination, if you notice any of the following:

  • Labored breathing
  • Rapid breathing (known as “tachypnea”).
  • Abnormal pulses
  • Loud heart murmur

Food Suggestions For Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

  • In diets elevated in protein (>100 grams per 1000 calories) at least 30% meat-based protein (on a dry matter basis) is recommended.
  • PDA dogs' ability to excrete sodium in their urine is markedly reduced. Sodium or salt should be limited to help reduce fluid accumulation.
  • Foods that tend to be high in salt should be cut off. Snack foods (crackers, chips, pretzels, etc.), pizza, bread, cheese, other dairy products, etc.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils) and amino acid foods/supplements.
  • Vitamin E and co-enzyme Q10.
  • Carnitine, B vitamins, and Magnesium.
  • Maintain ideal body weight and Fresh food can be a very healthy option.

Conclusion

The prognosis for CHF in dogs depends on the severity of underlying conditions. Many CHF dogs can live normal lives if they are without any other complications. Dogs with mild symptoms can be managed with medications.

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