Canine Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure in dogs is brought on by a change in the function or structure of the heart. When the heart stops being able to pump blood efficiently, congestive heart failure is said to develop. Fluid will start being retained in the lungs and abdominal areas since the heart is no longer strong enough to pump it.
There are two different types of canine congestive heart failure. Some dogs develop the condition because the walls inside the chambers will become thicker than normal. Thicker walls will keep the heart from pumping efficiently. The form of congestive heart failure that dogs most often suffer from occurs when the chambers become larger while the walls of the heart will become thinner.
Most dogs that develop canine congestive heart failure due so because of their genes. Also, breeds like Dobermans are affected much more often than other breeds.
Unfortunately, dogs rarely live for more than a year or two after being diagnosed with canine congestive heart failure. This is due to the fact that they don’t start displaying signs until the condition has gotten very bad.
By this time, they will have trouble breathing properly. They will pant and cough very hard after exercise, and even while resting. They will lose their appetite and the abdominal area will become swollen. This happens when fluids start being retained in the abdomen and liver.
If congestive heart failure in dogs is suspected, then the vet will be able to detect abnormal heart rhythms upon listening. Electrocardiograms can also be used to detect these abnormalities. An x-ray or cardiac ultrasound will also show an image of the improperly functioning heart.
To help treat canine congestive heart failure, medications that provide more calcium to the heart cells will be given. To get rid of fluids accumulating in the abdomen, lungs, and liver, diabetics can also be used. Other medications, known as ACE inhibitors, can also be used to loosen up the blood vessels so the heart will have an easier time pumping blood efficiently.
As mentioned, the prognosis for congestive heart failure in dogs is pretty poor. By the time symptoms appear and diagnosis is made, dogs typically have between six and 12 months to live. Larger dog breeds usually have even less time.