Congestive heart failure in dogs is a serious condition, just as it is in humans. While this condition is often seen in aging dogs, it is not exclusive to them. In fact if there is an undetected heart problem in a younger dog that goes untreated, it can speed up their aging.
Congestive heart failure in dogs is a disorder that develops progressively as a result of an underlying weakness in the heart.
Eventually an ailing heart is unable to pump adequately
enough to circulate the amount of blood necessary to meet the physical
needs of the body and major organs.
When this happens, the blood may back up and cause damage to the heart, lungs and other important organs - hence the term congestive.
However, because the body has the ability to compensate for the lack of
blood flow, indications of a problem may not show up for some time.
Signs of congestive heart failure in dogs, can vary depending on the underlying heart ailment, but any of
the following signs are reason enough to seek a vet's diagnosis. Early detection of a heart problem, the better
the odds of treatment being successful:
If the heart failure advances to a worse level, other indications of this may be observable, such as:
When breathing becomes really labored, dogs may sit with their front legs more apart to expand the chest area while at the same time extending their neck, as a means of getting more oxygen.
Heart failure may be caused by any of a number of congenital heart defects that are often hereditary. Quite a few breeds are predisposed to congenital defects. These include:
to name a few.
The good news is that dogs intended for breeding can be tested and issued
a certificate if found free of congenital defects, thus preventing the potential for heart defects to be passed along.
With respect to small breed dogs, chronic valvular disease is more commonly the cause of congestive heart failure. On the other hand, in large to very large dogs, it is frequently associated with cardiomyopathy.
Some other causes of heart disease that can subsequently lead to congestive heart failure in dogs, are those related to health issues common to many dogs.
Some of these include:
Some holistic veterinarians assert that heart problems in dogs are related to a weakened immune system caused by exposure to:
all setting the stage for inflammatory responses.
Treatment can cure some forms of heart disease and will have a better
chance of being successful if it is initiated before the heart
has suffered any appreciable damage.
Treatment usually involves:
dog foods contain excessive salt amounts and are best avoided. With
advice from your vet, a suitable diet can be formulated.
In conjunction with standard veterinarian treatment, holistic vets often recommend herbs and nutritional supplements to strengthen and support the heart as well as to aid in blood circulation.
If the dog is only showing mild symptoms, a change in diet might be the only thing required.
On the other hand, if your dog is showing
signs of rapid breathing, tiring easily, or coughing, then
physical activities that are likely to exacerbate these symptoms, are
At home treatment includes providing a stress free environment for your dog and allowing your dog to practice an activity level with which he is comfortable.
At the same time, you should be on the lookout for any warning signs such as fainting or heavy breathing.
There are a few ways in which you can prevent congestive heart failure in dogs.
Most of the time congestive heart failure in dogs is caused by genetic predispositions to health issues, not by environment.
Dogs that have a heart defect should not be bred so as to protect future generations. Those that breed dogs have the responsibility to test for heart disease problems and not breed those dogs that are affected.