Several factors can result in CHF. Some dogs are born with congenital heart defects that contribute to this condition, but they don't present themselves for years. Congenital heart disease is rare but can be very serious for your dog. Our Boulder vets will explain to stages of CHF and what to look out for.
About Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs.
Congestive heart failure in dogs happens when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to the body, which causes an increase in pressure and fluid that will leak into the lungs and, less frequently, other major organs.
When fluid builds up or around your dog’s lungs, it stops the lungs from expanding normally and prevents oxygen from moving into the bloodstream properly. This can cause many symptoms and health issues for your dog.
CHF can be a slow-onset condition that develops over time.
Stages of Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs.
CHF in dogs can be broken down into four stages. Stages one and two do not have a lot of symptoms that you will notice, and you may be unaware something is wrong until the condition has progressed to a later stage.
These are the four stages broken down and the symptoms you may notice:
Stage 1: The dog’s heart is beginning to deteriorate. Visible signs and symptoms have not yet presented themselves.
Stage 2: Symptoms like panting, shortness of breath, and fatigue, especially after exercising, begin to present themselves.
Stage 3: Fatigue and shortness of breath occur more frequently, even on short walks. Coughing and wheezing may begin. Since the heart is not pumping efficiently, an accumulation of fluid in the chest causes breathing difficulties.
Stage 4: CHF is in its final stage. Breathing becomes difficult to even when at rest. Fluid can accumulate in various parts of the body, causing swollen legs or belly, making it difficult to walk. It can even cause vomiting.
If you see any of the symptoms it is best to contact our Boulder vets right away for assessment.
Treatment of Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs.
Treatment depends on the underlying heart disease, along with the severity. There is usually no cure for CHF, but there are effective treatments to ensure a good quality of life.
If the cause of CHF is a congenital abnormality like a PDA, surgical correction may help to reverse heart failure if performed in a timely fashion.
The goal when treating CHF is to reduce fluid buildup and maximize the amount of blood being pumped to the lungs and the rest of the body.
Life With CHF For Dogs.
Unfortunately, there is generally no cure for heart disease. However, with the right care, it is possible to manage, and most dogs do well with medications and treatment.