Congestive heart failure is a serious condition that affects many dogs. It occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs, leading to a buildup of fluids in the lungs, liver, and other organs.
If you want to know what is happening in heart failure more in detail, please go to my blog special blog post about fluid built up.
Symptoms of congestive heart failure in dogs include difficulty breathing, coughing, fatigue, and a decreased appetite. In some cases, the dog may have a swollen belly due to fluid buildup and may collapse or faint. Some dogs do not show any sings of disease previous to fluid built up, others may start coughing or show exercise intolerance way before congestive heart failure is present.
There are several causes of congestive heart failure in dogs, including congenital heart defects, heartworm disease, a weak heart muscle and chronic valve disease. A leaky valve is the most common heart disease in adult dogs, especially in smaller breeds, with up to 75% of dogs more or less affected at the age of 13 years.
Diagnosis of congestive heart failure typically involves a physical examination, chest x-ray, and ultrasound of the heart. Blood tests may also be performed to check for underlying conditions that could be contributing to the heart failure.
Treatment for congestive heart failure in dogs typically involves a combination of medications to help the heart pump more efficiently and to reduce fluid buildup in the body. These may include diuretics, Pimobendan, ACE-Inhibitors and other drugs that help to lower blood pressure and improve heart function.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair a damaged heart valve. However, this is only an option for a small number of dogs and currently only available in a handful of clinics in the world.
It’s important to note that congestive heart failure is a chronic condition that requires lifelong management. This includes regular check-ups with your veterinarian, adherence to a prescribed medication regimen, and lifestyle changes such as weight management, controlled exercise and close observation to react quickly to changes.
In addition, a low-salt diet may be recommended.
It is important to catch the signs early and get the proper diagnosis, treatment and management in order to give your furry friend the best chance at a good quality of life.