Congestive heart failure is a very serious disease that canines can be afflicted with. Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy fix or a magic pill to make us doggies better. This makes early detection the key to improving your dog’s quality of life and extending the time your dog can spend with you and your family.
Overall, 10% of all dogs are affected. In breeds of dogs that are predisposed to these problems, its occurrence can be as high as 50% … YIKES!
Pet parents need to know what to watch for and be aware of and notice if anything in our routine or behavior changes. Of course most dogs don’t know how to type like me, so they can’t just send an e-mail to their mom or dad and say “Hey, I don’t feel well, please take me to the vet.”
The MOST important thing your rents can do is to take you to the vet EVERY YEAR for an annual exam. The vet will listen to your heart and determine if you have a heart murmur. If you have a murmur it will make an unusual sound that tells the vet that something isn’t right with your heart. The bad news is … if they hear something, that means you have heart disease. The good news is … if there isn’t any other sign of problems besides the sound, that means you are a-symptomatic and there isn’t any active sign of the disease other than the murmur. This means they found it early! This is great news for your doggie!
However, dogs, listen up carefully. If you have a murmur, MAKE, and I repeat, MAKE, your rents pay the extra to have a radiograph (x-ray) of your heart taken. When you have heart disease your heart will enlarge to try to compensate for being “sick.” Typically, it will not start enlarging until about a year before you will be really ill. This makes it really important to get this x-ray early so it can serve as a baseline. You also need to get a vet cardiologist to work with your regular vet as a team. Together they can monitor your heart with x-rays and compare then to the baseline x-ray. If they see that your heart is getting bigger, they will be able to give you the medication you need right away. So … I repeat, if you have a murmur, get an x-ray ASAP if you haven’t had one yet.
If your dog is already in the clinical phase (which means he or she is getting sick from their heart disease) these signs include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Distended jugular veins on their neck
- Weight loss and decreased appetite
- Depressed – if we don’t feel good then we aren’t happy and may get depressed
- Tired and we don’t want to exercise
- Weakness and even collapse
- A pot belly and/or our abdominal extends
So … since it is so important, I want to repeat again, make your rents take you to your annual exam EVERY year to listen to your heart. Also, if they hear a heart murmur, make your rents have a chest X-ray taken as a baseline for treatment.
Disclosure: I was invited to an editors’ Roundtable by Boehringer Ingelheim VetMedica. Hotel and meals where provided.