Congestive heart failure in dogs

Vet’s Voice with Dr Tafara Mapuvire

CONGESTIVE heart failure (CHF) refers to the presence of fluid in the lungs caused by underlying heart disease.

Certain breeds have been shown to be predisposed to cardiac disease that leads to CHF.

CHF resulting from congenital heart disease is most commonly seen in young dogs, although it occurs occasionally in older dogs. CHF resulting from acquired heart disease is typically seen in middle-aged and older dogs. CHF significantly affects quality of life. It can result in profound discomfort and anxiety and may affect the owner’s perception of the pet, resulting in euthanasia.

Clinical signs typically include some degree of coughing and respiratory distress. In some cases, exercise intolerance may be seen (the dog tires easily). Heart disease underlying CHF can be diagnosed by your veterinarian.

The veterinarian can listen to the heart sounds using a stethoscope to pick up any abnormalities which indicate the presence of heart disease. Veterinarians also employ imaging techniques (ultrasound, x –rays) and a special technique called ECG (electrocardigraphy) to diagnose cardiac disease.

Veterinarians usually make a presumptive diagnosis by means of the history, physical examination findings, and supportive evidence obtained through imaging. Heart disease is fairly manageable if diagnosed early. Consult your veterinarian for a professional diagnosis of heart disease in your dog.

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