Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs Why does the heart fail to pump blood efficiently?

Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs Photo by Alice Castro:

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a disease that causes the heart to fail to pump blood efficiently. CHF can be caused by many conditions, including heartworm disease and damage from high blood pressure.

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is when your dog's heart cannot pump blood efficiently. This means that the heart is not strong enough to circulate blood through the body, and excess fluid may build up in the lungs, abdomen, and other body tissues. CHF can be life-threatening if not treated properly. 

Signs And Symptoms

The symptoms of congestive heart failure in dogs vary depending on the severity of the condition. If your dog suffers from CHF, it may be lethargic and lose appetite. They may also suffer from coughing, shortness of breath, and perhaps an increased abdominal girth (abdominal distention). 

While some cases can be resolved quickly, others may require lifelong pet medication, and all too often, there are no cures for canine CHF at all! So if you notice any unusual signs or symptoms in your dog, it's always best to consult a professional before things get out of hand. 

Causes Of Heart Failure

Heart abnormalities are common in dogs; around 10% of all dogs and 75% of older dogs have some form of heart problem. Congenital heart disease is a genetic abnormality of the heart that can be inherited, but it does not always have an identifiable cause. It's more likely to occur in dogs with short legs and long backs, like dachshunds and corgis.

Infectious causes of heart failure include bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Examples of infectious diseases include leptospirosis (a bacterial infection), canine distemper virus, and rabies. These infections may make your dog sick and affect its heart function. But they can be treated with pet meds like Doxycycline for dogs or Panacur.

Leptospirosis is one example of an infectious disease that can cause congestive heart failure in dogs by damaging blood vessels throughout the body, including those in the lungs, which help provide oxygen to the body. 

Diagnosing Heart Failure

The diagnosis of heart failure is made when a dog shows signs of fluid accumulation in the lungs and poor circulation. There are several diagnostic tests that your veterinarian may perform to determine if your dog has congestive heart failure.

The most common test is an echocardiogram, which uses sound waves to create images of your pet's heart and assess its function. This test can show whether there are any structural changes in the heart muscle itself, as well as abnormal blood flow throughout the body due to insufficient pumping by the ventricles.

A chest X-ray may also be used to determine if excess fluid is accumulating in the lungs. If so, then this might suggest that there is too much blood flowing back into the right side of your pet's heart after being pumped out by their left ventricle during systole. 

Treating Your Dog's Congestive Heart Failure

Treatment for congestive heart failure in dogs depends on the severity of the condition and whether or not your dog has other health problems that need to be considered.

? Medication: Your veterinarian will likely prescribe pet medication to help alleviate your dog's symptoms. There are pet meds like Furosemide for dogs to remove excess fluids from body tissues, Benazepril to manage blood pressure, etc.

? Natural remedies: If you're looking for a natural remedy, there are plenty of supplements out there that could work just as well, like Hills Prescription Diet or Salmon Oil for dogs.

? Heart Surgery: Surgery might be an option if medications aren't working. In some cases, a heart valve replacement or bypass surgery can mean the difference between life and death.

? Lifestyle Changes: Dogs who suffer from CHF may benefit from making some lifestyle changes while recovering from surgery or taking medications over time. 


CHF is a serious condition that can have devastating effects on your dog's health and quality of life. It's important that you know the signs and symptoms of this disorder so you can take action immediately if you notice any changes in your pet's behavior.

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