Treating Congestive Heart Failure in Your Dog or Cat

When a pet’s heart is no longer capable of adequately pumping blood throughout her body, she is suffering from a condition called congestive heart failure. And, just like in humans, it’s a condition that can prove fatal if early detection and treatment do not happen.

Congestive heart failure can be caused by a range of factors, and in most cases, it affects either the left side or the right side of the heart. Interestingly, a pet will display different signs and symptoms based on which side of the heart is affected. But, if left untreated, congestive heart failure will progress and eventually affect both sides of the heart.

Right-Sided Congestive Heart Failure

If the pet has right-sided congestive heart failure, then the common signs can include a bloated abdomen and edema (swelling) in the limbs. These signs develop because when a pet has right-sided congestive heart failure, the right ventricle can’t pump the oxygenated blood to the lungs as effectively.

This results in blood backing up and leaking into the tricuspid valve, which is located between the right ventricle and right atrium. The blood flows back into the body’s main circulation where it winds up being deposited in abdomen. It also causes fluid to leak from the veins in the legs, which is what causes the edema.

Left-Sided Congestive Heart Failure

The most common signs of left-sided congestive heart failure include coughing and difficulty breathing. These symptoms occur because the left ventricle is unable to adequately pump blood into the body’s main circulation.

This causes fluid to enter the mitral valve where it goes into the left atrium and then is deposited in the lungs. The build-up of fluid in the lungs is what causes the tell-tale respiratory symptoms. Left-sided congestive heart failure is the most common of the two.

What Causes Congestive Heart Failure in a Pet?

While the causes can be many, the two most common causes of congestive heart failure in pets are mitral valve insufficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy. In fact, 80% of congestive heart failure cases in dogs are caused by mitral valve insufficiency. Heartworm disease is another common cause of congested heart failure.

Can Congested Heart Failure Cause a Pet to Have a Heart Attack?

Heart attacks aren’t as common in pets as one might think; in fact, they are quite rare. But, a heart attack could be considered a cause of death in cases where a pet is diagnosed with any heart condition and dies suddenly.

How Is Congestive Heart Failure Diagnosed?

If the veterinarian determines that your pet may be suffering from a problem with her cardiac system, then she will refer your pet to a veterinary cardiologist for further testing. The tests used to diagnose congestive heart failure in a pet include:

  • Auscultation (listening to the heart through a stethoscope)
  • Comprehensive blood and urine tests
  • X-rays of the chest
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Echocardiogram

How Is Congestive Heart Failure in Pets Treated?

Treatment depends on what is causing the congestive heart failure, and which side of the heart is affected. For instance, if the left side is failing, then medications may be prescribed to help reduce the build-up of fluid in the lungs.

Medications can also help correct an irregular heartbeat and improve the heart’s function. Because congested heart failure has no cure, the pet will need to be on these medications for the remainder of her life.

Your pet will also be placed on a low-salt diet and a limited activity exercise regimen. If a valve is torn, then surgical insertion of a pacemaker is required to regulate the pet’s heartbeat. The veterinarian may also prescribe certain supplements to help improve your pet’s condition as well.

Order Your Pet’s Heart Meds From Diamondback Drugs Today

If your pet is diagnosed with congestive heart failure and she is prescribed medication to help manage it, then getting those important drugs is easy and affordable with Diamondback Drugs. We can even custom-formulate your pet’s meds into tasty, pet-friendly treat-like doses that will make it easier to administer her doses.

Get a free quote for your pet’s heart medications today and see how much you can save with Diamondback Drugs. We can help you get your pet the medicine she needs to manage her heart – try us today!

Author: Giano Panzarella