Furosemide (Lasix) Treatment for Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs

Dilated cardiomyopathy is the major cause of congestive heart failure in dogs. For reasons that are unclear to veterinary science, this condition is more common in Doberman pinschers than in other breeds.

About Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a heart condition in which the chambers of the heart expand, which causes the muscles forming the walls of the heart to stretch and become thinner. When the heart muscle expands in this way, it becomes unable to pump a sufficient supply of blood throughout the body. This expansion if the heart is usually caused by damage to the valves that control the flow of blood inside the heart. When the heart begins to expand, the muscles begin to weaken.

The left side of the heart becomes unable to contract strongly enough to pump blood through the blood vessels of the body. This causes blood to pool in the right side of the heart. The right side of the heart is the part that supplies blood to the lungs for oxygenation. Blood enters the right side of the heart from the thorax and the abdomen. The heart begins working harder and harder to compensate for the changes it is undergoing, but eventually begins to fail. This stage is called congestive heart failure.

Signs and Symptoms

A dog suffering from congestive heart failure caused by dilated cardiomyopathy will tire very quickly and easily. The dog will also suffer from lack of appetite and difficulty breathing. He will pant and cough, even while resting. His stomach will enlarge and the abdomen will start to look like a pear from the fluids gathering in the liver and abdominal cavity. The membranes in the dog's mouth will have a grayish hue to them instead of a healthy pink tinge. The blood vessels closer to the surface will be congested with blood. In short haired dogs, you might be able to notice a condition called jugular pulse, where you can see the heart beating in the jugular vein in the neck.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy Treatment with Lasix

One of the major problems that this condition causes is a buildup of fluids in the body, because the blood doesn't flow properly. Diuretics are an effective treatment that helps the body pass these fluids more easily. The drug that most vets consider the best for this purpose is furosemide, also known as Lasix. Typical doses of Lasix will be between one and three milligrams for every pound that your dog weighs. This means that if you have a twenty pound dog, the dose will be between 20 and 60 milligrams, depending on severity of the edema he is suffering from. If your vet prescribes Lasix, your dog will drink and urinate much more than before. You will need to monitor his potassium levels while he is taking this drug and give him a supplement if those levels are low.

If your dog is exhibiting any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should take him to the vet as soon as possible for diagnosis and to begin treatment if necessary.