It can be scary to hear the news that your dog has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Sadly, all kinds of dog breeds, whether large or small, can develop this condition. Fortunately, with proper lifestyle management and proper treatment, congestive heart failure can be contained.
However, it is good that you know the symptoms of congestive heart failure are dogs to start treatment promptly, thereby lengthening their lifespan.
What Is Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs?
Congestive heart failure refers to when the heart cannot pump enough blood to all parts of the body. In this case, blood backs up into the lungs with body fluids accumulating in the abdomen or chest. Once these body activities are blocked, they further constrict the lungs and heart, limiting enough oxygen from flowing in throughout the body. There are two types of congestive heart failure.
Right-side congestive heart failure- It occurs when there is a contraction in the heart which causes blood from the right ventricle to leak into the right atrium through the tricuspid valve.
Left-sided congestive heart failure- It occurs when blood from the left ventricle leaks back into the left atrium through the mitral valve instead of being pumped into systemic circulation once the heart contracts.
What Causes Congestive Heart Failure?
The heart failure tends to develop due to congenital issues or when the dog experiences a health problem that exerts strain on its heart such that it cannot pump blood normally. One of the health problems can be a degenerative atrioventricular valve, which is very common among older small-breed dogs. The disease is characterized by leaky valves that allow body fluids to accumulate in the lungs of the dog.
Additionally, older large-breed dogs have high chances of developing dilated cardiomyopathy disease. The disease which implies an enlarged heart leads to heart failure. Additionally, if heartworms in dogs are left untreated, they can lead to heart failure.
Other Causes of Heart Failure Include:
Inadequate selenium or vitamin E can make the heart muscles to be damaged.
Parvovirus can infect the heart muscles and lead to acute heart failure.
Symptoms, Prognosis & Life Expectancy for Heart Failure in Dogs
The symptoms of Congestive heart failure include the following
- Refuse or reluctance to exercise
- The dog will breathe faster, especially when it is resting.
- Struggling to breathe
- Constant panting
- The dog will get tired easily when playing or walking.
- Coughing up blood
- Distended abdomen
- Blue tinged gums.
Life Expectancy and Prognosis
The quality of life and longevity in dogs with congestive heart failure varies as it depends on the amount of blood leakage into the upper chambers of the heart or severity of valve damage. Factors such as physical status, age, and concurrent medical conditions of the dog, determine its prognosis. If you put your dog into cardiac medication during the early stages of the disease it will have a better prognosis compared to one that gets medication when the condition is at an advanced stage.
Dogs that have left-sided valvular heart disease do have an average life expectancy of about nine months once they are treated with a low-salt diet and medication. Regular removal of body emaciations and abdominal fluid accumulation can increase the life expectancy of your dog.
Clinical Findings and Survival Time in Dogs With Advanced Heart Failure
The vet can use various tools in diagnosing heart failure. In this case sonograms, echocardiograms and X-rays can assist to determine if the valves are leaking and the amount of fluid that has accumulated in the lungs. In determining if the dog has heartworms, the vet can conduct blood tests. The average survival time after dogs with advanced heart failure is between 6 to 12 months.
Managing Your Dogs Congestive Heart Failure
In managing the condition, vets do describe diuretics, vasodilators, and ACE inhibitors to reduce fluid build-up and strengthen the heart so that the dog becomes more comfortable. Also, the vet can prescribe supplements such as amino acids carnitine, vitamin B, and antioxidants. Furthermore, positive inotropes can be introduced to make the heart muscles of your dog stronger.
Additionally, the vet can treat the underlying heart disease like eliminating heartworms.
Congestive heart failure is a common disease as it affects about 75% of older dogs. Although there is no cure, lifestyle changes and proper medication can assist in managing the condition. Also, it is good to be aware of the signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure in dogs so that you can seek medical assistance as soon as possible.