CHF: Understanding Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs

Congestive heart failure (CHF ) is the most common heart problem in dogs. Any age-group or breed of dog can develop CHF, but it typically strikes over-weight dogs approaching their senior years. Other times it is caused by a hereditary weakness or heartworms.

The main problems congestive heart failure dogs have are fluid in their lungs and mobility. Not only is this condition painful, but it can be an ongoing problem. Although there is no cure for CHF, understanding this disease is the first step toward wellness and relief.

Look for Signs of CHF:

The biggest sign of this cardiac problem is coughing as your dog tries to get rid of the fluid in his lungs. Be on the lookout for these other common signs:

  • Fainting/sudden collapse.
  • Agitation and distress
  • Trouble catching his breath: labored breathing, wheezing, gurgling noises.
  • Swollen abdomen from fluid, potbellied appearance.
  • Breathing more quickly than usual.
  • Tired after performing even small activities.
  • A persistent, dry cough.
  • Bluish discoloration of the tongue/gums during activity.

Treatment Options for CHF in Dogs

Congestive heart failure is a problem you can better manage through care, nutrition, medication and supplements. Weight control is paramount for dog's suffering with CHF. The heavier the dog, the more effort he requires to pump blood to the heart.

Treatment is successful when medication is given for extended periods of time. Treatment is meant to control symptoms of congestive heart failure dogs rather than cure them. Some breeds such as Cocker Spaniels are more prone to nutritional problems that can lead to heart issues, such as taurine and carnitine deficiencies.

The following are treatments for canine congestive heart failure: Drug therapy to get rid of fluid and adjust the heart rate A drug called Vetmedin Medication for possible parasites in the lungs and heart Diuretics to flush out excess fluids

Natural options for congestive heart failure dogs include: Supplements and vitamins B-complex tablet with niacin Trace mineral supplement with chromium and selenium Chelated zinc L-carnitine and taurine supplements

Adjust Your Pet's Lifestyle

Lifestyle can play a big role in preventing CHF from affecting a normally healthy dog. Giving your dog proper nutritional requirements, exercise and care are all positive steps toward heart health. Here are more healthy lifestyle suggestions:

  • Encourage daily activity and walks.
  • Feed him a low-sodium diet; limit table scraps
  • Fill his bowl with clean spring water: non-chlorinated and unfluoridated.
  • Serve foods that have a lot of protein ingredients.
  • Administer proper dental care to avoid heart infections.

Safety Tips for Congestive Heart Failure Dogs

If you are the owner of a CHF dog, learn techniques to assist him in case an emergency arises.

For example, to drain fluid from your dog's lungs in an urgent situation, hold him upside down for 10 seconds. For a small dog it is best to pick him up by his hind legs; a larger dog should be lifted from his hips.

Other household tips include limiting the stairs your dog has to climb and installing ramps for him to get outside. Additionally, help your dog get exercise that's not too strenuous for his condition.