Heart problems in dogs are more common than you think, especially when the animal is getting older. Detecting heart failure early can help you extend your life. The medical term is congestive heart failure and means that the animal's heart can not supply enough blood to the body and can lead to an accumulation of fluid in the body. Heart failure can be on the left side of the heart, on the right or both, and depending on whether one or the other affected organs change. If you want to know more about this problem and how to solve it in this article we tell you the symptoms and treatment of heart failure in dogs .
What is heart failure and how can I detect it in my dog?
Congestive heart failure is a pathology that dogs can suffer when they are older because their heart is weakening. However, it can happen at any time and it is not a disease that runs through a long process but can happen from one day to the next. In some cases it can be genetic and there are races that have a greater genetic predisposition, such as the Boxer, the Doberman or the Cocker Spaniel, although it does not mean that everyone will suffer it. Knowing how to detect this pathology can lengthen the life of your pet and it is very important not to let it pass if you recognize any symptoms.
It happens when the heart can not supply enough blood to the whole organism and, when the most important organ fails, the rest of the body does everything possible so that the tissues receive the blood and oxygen they need. This causes fluid to accumulate in some organs, causing this congestion. In addition, you can detect on which side of the heart has occurred depending on the organ that is affected. When it occurs on the left side, fluid is usually retained in the lungs and when it occurs on the right, fluid accumulates in the abdomen.
We will see the symptoms that can appear so that, at the moment you detect one, you go immediately to your veterinarian.
- He has a cough and usually the cough happens suddenly and becomes constant.
- He can not breathe well or, on the contrary, he breathes rapidly. When the insufficiency occurs on the left side we have seen that the lungs fill with fluid which can cause it to be difficult for your dog to breathe.
- It's hard for him to play and exercise.
- You notice him very tired or more exhausted than usual.
- He suffers some fainting. If your pet faints do not wait to take him to the veterinarian since it could be an oxygen deficiency in the brain.
- The gums or blue tongue may be a sign that not enough oxygen reaches the body.
- If you notice your abdomen swollen. As we have already seen an insufficiency in the right side causes accumulation of fluid in the abdomen. You can feel it bloated and hard.
How to take the pulse of a dog
It is advisable that if you see that your pet suffers from any of the symptoms mentioned above , take him immediately to the vet . However, another thing you can do to detect this condition in time is to take the pulse. And how do you take the pulse of a dog ? To begin with, you need to lie on your side without being forced, you have to be as calm as possible and you have to be relaxed. Then use your fingers, but not the thumb, and place them in the middle of the inner thigh, which is the area where you will best feel their pulsations.
You have to measure how many beats you have in a time of 15 seconds and then multiply that number by four and the result will be the beats per minute. The normal pulsations of a dog vary according to its age and its weight. Puppies usually have between 110 and 120 beats per minute, adult dogs between 90 and 100 and older ones between 70 and 80. However, if a dog is above its weight its pulsations could be reduced.
If your pulse is faster than normal it could be heart failure. This is because as not enough blood is reaching the tissues the body accelerates to try to supplant what is missing such as blood and oxygen and makes the heart of our pet is accelerated.
It can be a good measure to detect the problem or take it into account when taking the veterinarian. However, he better than anyone else will know how to help you with your pet.
Why does my dog have heart failure?
As we have seen, with the passage of time the organism of our pets, like that of people, begins to fail. Heart failure is the most risky and, therefore, must be treated in time. However, dogs that are not that old can also suffer heart failure. As we have seen sometimes it is genetic, but others may be due to some other heart failure. Some other causes that can cause it are:
- A widening of the valves of the heart that makes the pumped blood is not enough. Or it may also have some other defect in the valves or even an infection in them (endocarditis).
- Some problem in the walls of the heart.
- Liquid accumulated in the sac that surrounds the heart.
- Some tumor
- High blood pressure.
- Heartworm disease or filariasis. It is a parasitic disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes infected with the larva of the worm.
Treatment and care of a dog with heart failure
The most important thing is that you take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible and follow their instructions. Depending on how advanced the process is, it will recommend one thing or another. When the heart failure is due to some other disease like the ones we have seen, the cure will start by treating that pathology and solving it. If it is due to a genetic condition it could be solved with surgery. However, in most cases and when it occurs suddenly because the animal is older it has no solution. What you can do is treat him to extend his life as much as possible and with the highest quality.
What you will need in most cases, or depending on how strong the process has been, is hospitalization . If, for example, the dog has suffered too much and does not have enough oxygen, then he will need to be rehabilitated and for that he most likely needs to be admitted and have constant oxygen. And if it has filled with fluid or your abdomen or your lungs will need to be drained.
In addition, once out of the hospital you will need constant care and that your standard of living changes so it is very important that if it has happened to your dog you are aware of it and change your pace. You may need constant medication for the rest of your life and it is something that can not be forgotten.
In addition, you should reduce the exercise. You can give him rides but not force him, you should prevent him from making efforts, for example by playing. If, for example, you live in an apartment with an elevator, you better go up this way and avoid the stairs so that you do not tire too much. The heart is very fragile and with a problem like that we have to take care of it as much as possible.
You should also avoid overweight or end up overweight, in addition to controlling the salt you take. Like people, these two conditions hurt the heart.
Normally, your veterinarian will ask you to check periodically to see how your pet is progressing, but if you do not do it, ask for it, it is better to review it from time to time. You can also take advantage of taking the pulsations as we have shown in this article.