Congestive Heart Failure

Definition of Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive Heart Failure or CHF is a collective term used to refer the heart’s inability to pump out blood in the body. There are various causes for such a scenario. The two leading causes for this are Mitral Valve Insufficiency or MVI and Dilated Cardiomyopathy or DCM. The clinical signs of any issues related to the heart will depend on the fact that which side of the heart the dog is having a problem.

The Types of Congestive Heart Failure

Something called, Right Sided Congestive Failure or RS-CHF sometimes makes a poor venous return to the heart. When the heart contracts, instead of the right ventricle driving the blood through the lungs for oxygenation, some crack in the tricuspid valve forces the blood to come back into the right atrium. This bloodstream helps in the systematic circulation and eventually shapes into congestion. Then the fluid gets accommodated in the abdomen and takes part in the functions of the organs of these areas. In some occasion, the abdomen can get filled with the fluid and results in a  condition called as the Ascites. The fluid may also leak from places in the limbs, causing Peripheral Adema.

The Left-Sided Congestive Heart Failure or LS-CHF, in some cases, can have Mitral Valve leaks, in the left atrium, and then up to the lungs. The lung tissue than soaks the excess fluid in them, resulting in a condition called as the Pulmonary Edema. This condition results in difficulty in breathing and occasional episodes of coughing. The left-sided congestive heart failure is one of the most common types of CHF.

What is the leading cause of CHF?

The leading cause of CHF is Valvular Insufficiency. According to records, about eighty percent of canine CHF cases are the results of MVI. But there are other causes also. These are Cardiomyopathy, Irregularities in rhythmic actions, and shrinking of the blood vessels can also cause CHF. In its primitive stage, MVI will result in LS-CHF, and if not given proper treatments can result in severe heart failure for the heart.

Signs and Symptoms

1.The most prevalent sign is constant coughing and difficulty breathing.

2.Frequent fatigues.

3.A reduction in stamina.

4.Not showing interest in playing and walking.

5.Excessive panting and loss of the appetite.

6.A swollen belly with pale looking gums.

7.Sudden weight loss and muscle wasting.

Can my dog have a heart attack?

Heart attacks are sporadic in canines, but a sudden death as a severe consequence of the CHF is possible in dogs.

Diagnosis of CHF

1.Auscultation with a stethoscope is the foremost option to diagnose this condition. Causes like the heart murmurs are detected through this process. The vet may palpate the area to see the rhythm and strength of the heart. Then finally, the vet will assess the lungs.

2.Chest Xrays are the second option to evaluate the size and shape of the heart and see if there is a change in the lungs.

3.Urine and blood tests are the third options to examine and rule out the presence of any other condition in the heart. Different kidney and lung functions in many a times accompany CHF.

4.A test called the Electrocardiogram will measure the electrical activities of the heart and provides with information of the rhythm of the heart.


The treatment will depend on the causes of CHF. The vet may suggest something from the followings:

1.Medications to compel the heart to work again normally and correct irregular heartbeats.

2.The medicines will slow the pace of fluid building up in the lungs.

3.Surgical intervention is also an option to insert a pacemaker in the heart.

4.A commercial low salt diet to control the fluids.

5.Limited exercises to protect its heart.

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