What is Congestive Heart Failure?

Congestive Heart failure is a diagnosis given when the heart cannot pump the blood adequately around the lungs and body. Dogs have two disease that cause this, one is Mitral Valve Disease and the other is Dilated Cardiomyopathy.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms are related to where the heart is specifically failing. This can be right or left-sided.

With left-sided heart failure the symptoms are related to fluid accumulating in the lungs:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Fainting
  • Weakness/ exercise intolerance
  • Pale/blue gums/tongue

With right-sided heart failure the symptoms are related to fluid accumulating in the abdomen:

  • Enlarged/potbelly abdomen
  • Swollen legs
  • Exercise intolerance/weakness

What do I do if I notice any of these symptoms?

Your dog must be seen by a veterinarian to make the diagnosis of Congestive Heart Failure. X-rays are required and a cardiologist is recommended to perform and echocardiogram and ECG. Based on the results treatment protocols may be started. There are various treatments available that help support the heart and reduce the symptoms to allow quality of life to improve.

Will my dog have a heart attack?

Heart attacks are rare in dogs. Typically the difficulty breathing and coughing become bad enough to make the decision for euthanasia. However sudden death with any heart disease is possible. Here at HomeHeart we are here to help you with the decision-making process and to say goodbye if and when the time comes.