Congestive heart failure
What you as a pet parent need to know
Heart disease and congestive heart failure may affect your dog or cat at any stage in their life. And, although more often associated with an increase in age, heart disease may also be as a result of birth defects. In addition, certain breeds have a predisposition to this disease.
The early stages of congestive heart failure often have no associated signs and symptoms. However, as the disease progresses, your pet may suffer from one or more of the following:
Signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure include
- Frequent coughing (especially when waking during the sleep cycle)
- Exercise intolerance
- A noticeable change in weight
- Rapid breathing
- In progressive stages; sudden collapse
These symptoms are not exclusive to diagnosing congestive heart failure. However, it is important that when you recognize these symptoms that you have your pet evaluated by a veterinary professional.
When congestive heart failure is diagnosed, one or more of the following assessments may be performed
- Listening to your pets heart and lungs with a stethoscope to determine whether there is an abnormal heart rhythm and to listen for fluid build-up in the lungs
- Echocariogram (ultrasound)
- ECG (heart rhythm)
- Chest Radiograph (CXR)
- Blood tests
Early management of heart disease may include frequent low-key exercise and a prescribed change in food. That is, your vet will likely recommend foods that are low in salt and high in omega fatty acids. But, if your pet’s congestive heart failure is advancing with symptoms, your vet will discuss various treatment options with you. Treatment options will depend on disease progression, type and severity of symptoms.
Corrective medical treatment for congestive heart failure may include medication that slows down disease progression and assists the heart to work harder. In some pets, diuretic’s manage fluid build-up in the lungs. More aggressive treatment options include surgery and will be discussed with you as a pet owner to identify the risk/benefit ratio.
To sum up, following through on the prescribed treatment plan is key to managing the disease. And yes, your pet can still live a comfortable, long and happy life.