Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Heart Failure in Dogs

Please, don’t disregard early signs!
Most heart failure cases affect old dogs.  Coughing is often the first sign that a dog is developing heart failure.  It may start with the dog having a soft, throat clearing cough barely noticeable a few times a day.  As it progresses the cough becomes more frequent and intense and begins occurring at night or on awakening from sleep.  In later stages of disease coughing becomes violent, persistent, and the dog coughs up white froth.  Coughing is a sign of serious trouble that signifies blood is stagnating in the lungs and its fluid is collection in airways.

Exercise intolerance is another sign of heart failure.  The dog doesn’t want to go on long walks, it walks slowly, or it has to rest during a walk. This also is a sign of serious heart failure.  Because of fluid in lung airways the blood is not well oxygenated, or the pumping action of the heart is compromised.  In either case the dog is not getting enough oxygen to its tissues to perform normally.

If your dog starts to show these signs.  Don’t wait!  Get it to your veterinarian.  A heart check should be part of your dog’s annual exam.  Be sure to ask your veterinarian for one.

With treatment most cases of heart failure can be stopped if diagnosed early enough and the dog can return to a normal active life and live for a long time.  But, your veterinarian will need to know about the signs you have seen.  Then he will have to determine what type of heart disease your dog has and how best to stop degeneration of the heart muscle, improve its pumping capability, and get excess fluid out of the lungs.

Dr. Howard Helps You and Your Pets

Every week we veterinarians are asked to euthanatize several cats or dogs that were beloved by their owners but have become so sick they are a burden to their owners and to themselves.  Often the owners lament having to kill a dear friend.  And, we veterinarians are in sympathy.  More often than not the pet’s condition could have been treated and the animal would have lived several more happy years if only the owner had recognized months earlier that trouble was brewing for the pet.
This infomercial is part of a series I hope pet owners will refer to whenever their pet “is not quite right.”  Perhaps these articles will save or prolong one pet’s life by informing pet owners of the care that will help their animals.  Please check this site regularly to read about the many Care Prevention tips, Signs of Trouble and What To Do topics we will cover to help you and your pet.