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Congestive heart failure (CHF) in dogs occurs when blood becomes blocked in certain organs, most commonly the lungs, and causes them to malfunction. The volume of blood in internal organs become overloaded and result in myocardial failure and high blood pressure. The heart is simply unable to pump blood throughout the body effectively. This circulatory issue has become increasingly common in middle-aged dogs and can be passed down congenitally. However, with proper treatment, you can restore a dog’s heart function to an acceptable level in order to maintain a good quality of life.
If your dog is showing early symptoms of heart failure, your veterinarian will discuss options for how you can prevent congestive heart failure (CHF) with Vetmedin or a similar medication. Vetmedin works by strengthening heart muscles and opening blood vessels to reduce the amount of effort it takes to pump blood. As a result, the medicine allows the heart to pump blood more efficiently. Ideally for dogs six months or older diagnosed with mild to severe CHF due to atrioventricular valvular insufficiency or dilated cardiomyopathy. Talk to your doctor before giving your dog Vetmedin because baseline blood work is needed to determine if this drug is right for them. Vetmedin also comes in a generic version, called Pimobendan.
Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs
If your pet is reaching an old age or has a history of heart problems, watch for these signs of congestive heart failure in dogs that may slowly appear over time.
- Trouble breathing during activities
- Lethargy or excessive sleepiness
- Easily fatigued
- Lack of appetite
- Restlessness before bed
- Rapid breathing
- Frequent coughing
Bring your dog to the vet as soon as possible if these symptoms become problematic or if they suffer from any of the following serious symptoms.
- Significant weight loss
- Swollen abdomen due to fluid buildup
- Blue/grey tongue or gums due to lack of oxygen
There are several potential causes of congestive heart failure in dogs. The most common cause is chronic valve disease when heart valves fail to function properly. Certain dog breeds are more at risk of congestive heart failure such as Boxers, Pinschers, Cocker Spaniels, and Dobermans. Your dog may also suffer from dilated cardiomyopathy which is a weakening of heart muscles when the heart chambers become enlarged making it harder to pump blood efficiently. Your dog can be at a higher risk of congestive heart failure if they if they have been diagnosed with or have suffered from any of the following conditions:
- Heartworm disease
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal heart rhythms
Under examination from your vet, they may find defects in the heart walls or fluid in the areas around the heart which can also cause congestive heart failure.
How to Diagnoses CHF in Dogs
The veterinarian should be able to hear the presence of any fluid in the lungs during an initial checkup. If they suspect a potential problem, the vet will recommend several tests to determine the condition of your dog’s heart and the probable cause of the CHF. These tests include a chest X-ray of your dog to see the state of their heart, lungs and blood vessels, an ultrasound to assess heart function, and checking their blood pressure. They will also do a blood and urine test to rule out other conditions like heartworms. Early diagnosis is the key to successful treatment and to prevent congestive heart failure from further development.
CHF Treatment Options
Treatment depends on the cause of the heart failure and the severity of the condition. The purpose of medication is to reduce the amount of fluid that may have built up in the lungs and allow blood to pump more freely throughout the body. Oxygen therapy may be used in an emergency setting if your dog is suffering from severe symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that you can prevent congestive heart failure (CHF) with Vetmedin or other medications. However, treatment will reduce symptoms and preserve their quality of life. Once their condition is stabilized and have been properly diagnosed, your veterinarian will prescribe some or all the following types of medication:
- Lasix (Furosemide): A diuretic capable of removing excess fluid from the body by moving it to the kidneys and releasing it as urine which has resulted in longer lifespans.
- Vetmedin (Pimobendan): A drug to increase heart strength and allow it to pump blood more effectively.
- Lanoxin (Digoxin): Used to treat abnormal heart arrhythmias to better control heart rate.
CHF Management Tips
There are lifestyle changes you can make for your dog to prevent congestive heart failure. A diet low in sodium is recommended to help prevent congestive heart failure from getting worse. So, avoid feeding your dog table food and use salt-free snacks instead of regular treats. Reduce stress and try not to overexert your dog with physical activity in order to not overwork their heart. Therefore, a balanced diet and regular checkups should keep your dog as healthy as possible.
To learn more about how you can Prevent Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) with Vetmedin or similar medications, please visit our website.
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