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Heart failure in dogs

Heart Failure in Dogs

Canine heart failure or congestive heart failure in dogs is a condition wherein the heart is unable to pump blood effectively causing complete heart failure.

Heart disease or genetic malformation of the heart muscles are usual causes that lead to congestive heart failure. Larger dogs are at more risk than small dogs. Certain breeds such as Boxers, Dobermans, Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, Cocker Spaniels and Scottish Deerhounds are at greater risk of contracting heart disorders that lead to heart failure.

Causes, Symptoms of Heart Failure in Dogs

The most common causes that lead to heart failure are: heartworm, cardiomyopathy, disease of the pericardium and congenital heart defects.

The symptoms are broadly categorized as right side and left side failure symptoms. There are some common symptoms and certain unique symptoms that help identify the type of heart failure. The key signs indicating right side canine congestive heart failure are:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing or difficulty in breathing
  • Swelling of limbs
  • Swollen abdomen

The key signs indicating left side congestive heart failure in dogs are intolerance to exercise, coughing and fainting.

It is important to observe the appearance of the dog. If the dog seems depressed, has chronic cough and has a swollen body it is advisable to take your dog to the veterinarian. Such symptoms may not necessarily indicate congestive heart failure but may hint other serious health disorders. Congestive heart failure is usually diagnosed with the help of an x-ray and ultrasound. Both x-ray and ultrasound help ascertain the possibility of fluid accumulation or heart enlargement. Congestive heart failure is an end result and therefore cannot be treated. Heart congestion or disorders can be diagnosed early and appropriate treatment can be rendered. Treatment usually consists of medication that helps reduce the heart’s workload, control accumulation of fluid in tissues and improve the heart’s ability to function effectively. Medication also helps re-distribute blood volume, reduce blockages and promote drainage of accumulated fluids.

Congestive heart failure in dogs treatment

Canine congestive failure can rarely be treated unless diagnosed early. Early diagnosis can help render appropriate medication to reduce chances of congestive heart failure. Dogs under medication are usually kept sedated to minimize anxiety and help observe the effect of the medicines. Managing a dog with congestive heart disorder will require that the dog follow a special diet and exercise regime. An appropriate diet and exercise regime will help the heart pump blood effectively. Diuretics may also be recommended by the veterinarian to reduce fluid accumulation around the heart and in the lungs.


  Submitted on June 10, 2010  

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