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.

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