It is our parent’s worst nightmare. We go to our vet and they tell our parents something is wrong with us and it isn’t curable – such as congestive heart failure (CHF). I am sure your parents are like mine and I can only imagine how my Mom would react. She would lose it right there and would be really leaking. Fortunately, my brother Elvis and I have hearts that are healthy, but not every pet parent is so lucky.
Recently, my mom had a great opportunity to attend a workshop by two leading veterinary cardiologists (Dr. Soyna Gordon and Dr. Barret Bulmer). One of the things they taught us was about the treatment options for dogs that have this terrible disease.
If we are in distress in any way, obviously the first thing the vet will do is get us stabilized. That means they remove extra fluid, give us oxygen, and relax our veins so they aren’t stressing out with medication. Finally they try to improve cardiovascular function through the use of several types of drugs. Once we are stable, they start trying to maintain the disease and slow down its progression. Plus, they try to optimize the quality of our life. With treatment, some dogs can live for several more years even with advanced heart disease.
The key is that your parents have a really good support system/team around you supporting your care. This includes your primary care vet and specialist vets such as a heart doctor (cardiologist). They can help us be more comfortable breathing, keep our appetite up so we can keep eating plenty of treats, and help us maintain an active lifestyle so we are still asking for walks. Most importantly, they want to reduce the number of emergency trips to the vet.
There are also several drugs that can be used including Pimobendan, ACE inhibitors, SNS inhibitors, and diuretics. These drugs aren’t a cure for your dog, but it buys more time for us to spend together. One vet at the seminar summed it up as follows: “You have to get past that your dog is terminal, but you’re are buying time and amazing “Indian summers” to be with your beloved pet.”
To learn more about canine congestive heart failure, we highly recommend visiting yourdogsheart.com to get information about the disease and what to do if your dog is/was diagnosed with CHF.
Mom really hopes that Elvis and I never have CHF, but having attended this seminar gave her knowledge to understand it in case we ever have heart problems.
Disclosure: I was invited to an editors’ Roundtable by Boehringer Ingelheim VetMedica. Hotel and meals where provided.