A dog with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) experiences the heart muscle failing to function properly and the rate and strength of each beat changing. This is a serious condition as the heart is no longer able to maintain healthy circulation.
Blood begins to pool within the vascular beds and inside vital organs such as the lungs. It is this pooling that gives rise to the term “congestion.”
The symptoms of CHF depend largely on where the congestion is (the right or left hand side of the body) and whether underlying medical problems may have caused the condition.
General symptoms for CHF include:
- Tachycardia: Increased heart rate.
- Weak pulse: This can be very difficult to detect, even by professionals.
- Mucous membranes are pale: Particularly the gums and conjunctiva of the eye.
- Coughing: More usual if the congestion is on the left-hand side of the body.
- Tachypnoea: Increased breathing rate. This is more likely to occur in left-sided congestion.
- Weight loss: Often accompanied by lack of appetite.
- General intolerance to exercise: Lethargy and depression begin to set in.
- Ascites: Fluids begin to build up around vital organs such as the lungs, heart and stomach. It is more likely to occur in right-handed congestion.
- Hepatomegaly: When the liver becomes enlarged, although this is more often seen in cats rather than dogs. Due to the location of the liver in the body, this is usually seen in right-handed congestion.
- Cyanosis: When oxygen is unable to reach the tissues, causing the skin and tongue to become blue. This will occur if pulmonary edema (fluid around the lungs) develops.
A dog with congestive heart failure may present other symptoms if the congestion has been caused by an underlying condition such as cardiomyopathy (degeneration of the heart muscle).
There are many tests to diagnose a dog with congestive heart failure, and the process can be a long one.
- Blood tests: Blood is taken by the veterinarian to test the blood-gas levels. These determine the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide within the blood. The results will indicate how severe the congestion is.
- ECG (electrocardiogram): Electrodes are attached to the body and used to measure the strength and rate of the heartbeat. This test determines abnormal heart rhythms.
- Auscultation: Using a stethoscope, the veterinarian can hear any murmurs. These are caused by defects in the valves.
- Radiograph: By X-raying the chest and abdomen, the veterinarian can locate any fluid buildup.
- Blood pressure: Animals with high blood pressure are more likely to suffer from CHF.
- Ultrasound: An echocardiogram will show where the blockages and congestion are.
Treating a Dog With Congestive Heart Failure
Treatment for CHF in dogs takes a combination of medication and good caregiving.
- Rest is essential while initial treatment is being administered. The dog needs to rest and relax.
- A quiet area will help keep the dog calm. This can be achieved by placing a thin blanket over the cage.
- A diet that is low in salt and fat but high in protein will help to reduce the risk of total heart failure.
- Obesity puts pressure on the heart muscle, so controlling the weight of the dog is essential.
- Limiting exercise will help prevent the heart becoming strained.
- Diuretics may be prescribed to reduce any fluid build-up.
- If there are underlying conditions these will need to be managed effectively.
- Drugs such as digoxin may be given to slow down and strengthen the contractions of the heart muscle.
Natural Herbal Medicine Can Help
A growing number of home-healers are finding success with an all-natural herbal remedy called Primalix Heart Hardy. If you have a cat or dog with congestive heart failure, please ask your holistic vet or herbalist about this herbal natural remedy as an alternative. Also used for heart strength and preventive care.
- Primalix Heart Hardy is the 100% natural cardiotonic for restoring and maintaining normal heart function in all breeds of domestic dogs (large and small) and cats
- Heart Hardy acts directly yet gently on the heart and circulatory system to help promote muscle strength, regularity, and normal blood pressure
- Only drug-free, side-effect-free USDA Certified Organic whole plant constituents used
- Acts as a mild diuretic to reduce excess fluid retention
- Heart Hardy helps reverse symptoms and effects of heart disease and CHF in dogs and cats
- Comes in convenient Functional Food Drops TM
The dog with congestive heart failure will need constant monitoring with regular checkups by the veterinarian – even if being treated with a natural remedy. Dogs with CHF will not necessarily have a reduced lifespan and should still be able to live happily and comfortably when the condition is managed correctly.