Congestive heart failure in dogs has several potential causes, but the two most common are referred to as DVD and DCM.
DVD affects primarily small breeds and older dogs, while DCM affects larger breeds.
This heart condition can make your dog suddenly start to sleep a lot more than normal, or in some cases, they may have a very difficult time in sleeping.
It can also cause sudden fainting spells and perhaps the most chilling sound you will ever hear in your dog; coughing.
Your dog’s heart is one of the most incredible and miraculous things that has ever been created, and it can run virtually nonstop for several years.
However, this condition can suddenly change this incredible process. Congestive heart failure in dogs, also referred to as CHF, is not a complicated condition.
In fact, it is really quite simple; your dog’s heart no longer pumps properly.
When this pumping malfunction occurs, their heart is no longer capable of pumping the much needed supply of blood to their lungs.
However, in some cases, it can no longer supply blood to their body as well.
Or at least not in the amounts of volume or pressure that it was designed for.
When your dog’s output of blood from their heart is reduced or decreased at all, something very dangerous occurs; the blood entering the heart is increased.
When the increase of your dog’s blood reverses, their heart changes the balance of fluid pressure that it provides.
This change of balance than starts to affect their blood vessels as well as their surrounding tissues, and as the pressure increases further, the blood fluids start to leave the vessels.
Once this process occurs, it begins to congest in the surrounding tissues, and congestive heart failure occurs.
Congestive heart failure in dogs has several potential causes.
The two most common causes are referred to as DVD, or Degenerative valve disease, and DCM, Dilated cardiomyopathy.
Degenerative valve disease is a situation where the heart valves in your dog have either lost their ability to reduce the backward flow of blood during normal ventricular contractions.
Or it has has been damaged to the point this ability has been significantly reduced.
This condition is perhaps better known by another name, mitral valve disease as the left atrium as well the left ventricle in your dog’s heart is severely affected in this process.
DCM or dilated cardiomyopathy is quite different, as this is a very serious situation where the chamber within the ventricle of your dog’s heart has become enlarged.
However, to compound it even further, it is progressively becoming larger.
As this is occurring, your dog is experiencing a steady loss of strength with every heartbeat.
This form of congestive heart failure in dogs also has two phases; occult and overt clinical.
In the first stage, referred to as occult, your dog is slowly losing their ability to pump blood properly.
What is very confusing about this stage is the fact that your dog will show absolutely no signs of any heart problems.
However, as the ability of your dog’s ventricle to contract properly is reduced even further, something else quite sinister is happening.
The amount of blood that actually exists from their heart is also reduced.
Once this starts to happen, the reduced out-flow from their heart places added pressure and increases the volume of blood flowing upstream so to speak.
This also leads to congestion in your dog, and from this stage it almost always advances into the next stage; overt clinical.
Congestive heart failure in dogs, in the very early stages, still allows their body to very easily compensate for the lower output of blood from their body that is taking place.
However, all this starts to change as it continues.
As it progresses, the blood vessels constrict even more, increasing this resistance to the blood flow, and as result, their heart rate will be even more elevated.
This than causes other problems in your dog; they start to retain both sodium and water.
When all of these factors come together and lead to increased blood pressure, it can also lead to both accumulation of fluid in your dog’s tissues as well as their body cavities.
When there is a decrease in the output of the left side of your dog’s heart, this fluid now starts to accumulate in their lungs.
This process is referred to as pulmonary edema, but if it occurs on the right side, the congestion will start to build in both their abdomen as well as several other body parts.
There is one other very interesting aspect about congestive heart failure in dogs. DVD occurs in primarily small breeds as well as older dogs, while DCM affects larger breeds.
Congestive heart failure in dogs will show you some very distinctive symptoms, regardless of what the cause is.
The first sign that you will see is your dog is tiring very easily for no real reason, and this is than followed by your dog suddenly sleeping much more than normal, again for no real reason.
However, to compound this condition even further, some dogs will show just the opposite symptom; they will suddenly have problems sleeping.
This is usually hard for an owner to catch, but in this case it will not be hard at all.
Your dog will be having trouble sleeping on their side because of the fluid buildup that is occurring.
As a result of this, they will start to sleep in an entirely different position that both you and them are used to.
Your dog may also start faint as the congestive failure becomes even more advanced, as well as start to cough.
If you hear your dog cough, it is always a real warning sign and should be taken extremely seriously, as it is always as sign that something is very wrong with them.
There are several treatments for congestive heart failure in dogs, but there is no cure for it.
In most cases, the treatments are considered management only, but they can make it possible for your dog to live for another year or longer in some cases.
The first form of treatment is usually designed to increase your dog urinary output, which in turn will help to reduce the fluid in their body.
This process is usually done by diuretics, or water pills. In the more severe of cases; your dog’s blood vessels may have to be dilated.
However, this can be a very controversial process and should be discussed in length with your veterinarian.
The next major objective will be to suppress your dog cough, as this will help to relieve the compression of an enlarged heart. However, if pulmonary edema is present, this may not be tried.
Again, this is something you need to discuss with your professional.
If your dog does have edema, any type of cough suppressant that you give on your own could be catastrophic to your dog, as it can actually increase the damage.
Restricting sodium will be the next objective as this can help to decrease the amounts of water in your dog’s blood vessels as well as their tissues.
This is usually done with a special diet that limits sodium intake.
Congestive heart failure in dogs is not an automatic death sentence.
The overall prognosis will all depend on the severity of the condition.
In the vast majority of cases, it can be managed and can give you at least a year or longer in some cases with your very special friend.
More Heart and Blood Conditions in DogsAnemia in Dogs
Is a situation where dogs have low red blood cell counts that can be caused by a sudden and dangerous blood loss.Bleeding Disorders
Canine bleeding disorders are all subject to one of the most natural processes in your dog’s immune system; coagulation.Bruising & Bleeding
May be caused by clotting disorders;
however, contrary to a lot of misconception, it may be only one of the
If not caught and controlled may severely limit your dogs lifespan.
Is a situation where their skin as well as their mucous
membranes will slowly start to turn a light blue or purple.
Is known by another name, dilated cardiomyopathy, and is a disease that is best characterized by what it does to your dog’s heart.Heart Murmurs
Are considered to be auscultator sounds, which means it is a sound that vibrates through a solid or liquid form of some kind.Mitral Valve
In fully understanding canine mitral valve insufficiency it is very helpful to understand exactly what your dog’s heart does.Strokes in Dogs
Have two major causes: FCE, which is called fiberocartilagenous emboli myelopathy, and old dog vestibular disease.Thrombocytopenia
Is a disorder where abnormally low
blood concentrations of platelets, which are fragments of special cells
necessary for the clotting of blood.
Treating canine anemia cannot be done until you identify that your dog actually has anemia, and there are several signs to watch for.