Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure develops on pets, when the heart cannot provide proper circulation to your pet's body. It is typically caused by a weakened heart muscle and can lead to several problems with other organs in the body. This is a serious pet health concern and can go on for several years without any symptoms.

Congestive Heart Failure

How it Affects your pet

As stated above, congestive heart failure can go unnoticed for months or even years. In some cases, the condition may even appear suddenly after strenuous exercise. At this point, your pet may faint or collapse because its heart cannot keep up with its body's needs. Additionally, since the heart cannot pump properly, other organs can become damaged including the lungs, liver and kidneys. Increased pressure can also cause fluid to leak into the lungs and peritoneal cavity causing pulmonary edema. Leakage can also occur in the belly, legs and chest cavity.

Common symptoms

Symptoms of congestive heart failure can vary depending on many factors including how far the disease has progressed, the age of your pet and its overall condition. However, there are some common warning signs that many dogs and cats experience, and they are listed below. Common Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure in Pets: Fainting, Collapsing, Tiring Easily, Intermittent Coughing, Decrease in Activity Level, Restlessness and/or Pacing, Lack of Appetite and/or Weight Loss, Abdominal Swelling, Rapid Breathing, Rapid Pulse, Blue or Gray Gums and Sitting with Head Extended and Elbows Spread.

Treatments

Before your veterinarian can treat congestive heart failure, any underlying causes of the condition must be treated first. This can include such ailments as heartworms or bacterial endocarditis. Your pet will also need to be placed on a special diet and various medications to help the heart function properly and prevent cardiac arrhythmias. While exercise may help mild cases of this condition, in severe cases, exercise should be limited. Some of the treatments that your veterinarian may recommend for your pet include digitalis glycosides, anti-arrhythmics, calcium channel blockers, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors and pacemakers. Additionally, if there is any fluid in the lungs, potassium supplements and diuretics such as Lasix may be prescribed.

Breeds Affected

Under the right circumstances, most all dogs and cats can contract congestive heart failure. However, some animals are simply more predisposed to the condition than others. Listed below are the most common conditions that can make a pet vulnerable to congestive heart failure: Aging, Heartworms, Bacterial Endocarditis, Poor Diet, Chronic Valvular Disease, Cardiomyopathy and Congenital Heart Defects.

Congestive Heart Failure Affects

  • As stated above, congestive heart failure can go unnoticed for months or even years. In some cases, the condition may even appear suddenly after strenuous exercise. At this point, your pet may faint or collapse because its heart cannot keep up with its body's needs. Additionally, since the heart cannot pump properly, other organs can become damaged including the lungs, liver and kidneys. Increased pressure can also cause fluid to leak into the lungs and peritoneal cavity causing pulmonary edema. Leakage can also occur in the belly, legs and chest cavity.

Similar conditions

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