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Dog Heart Failure. When To Euthanise?

Old dog outside

Old dog outside


Congestive heart failure is a common condition in older dogs. It can progress slowly, and affect both sides of your dog’s heart.

Learn more about dog heart failure – when to euthanise here.

Congestive Heart Failure Facts

Each contraction of the heart muscle pumps blood around the body – giving organs oxygen and energy, and removing waste products.

As heart valves age, blood can leak backwards and with each heartbeat, there will be a heart murmur. With deteriorating heart function, the fluid volume within the heart increases – resulting in the heart chambers stretching and hydrostatic pressure in vessels that supply the veins.

This causes congestion and pulmonary oedema known as left-sided heart failure. Or ascites without pleural effusion – right-sided heart failure. Generally, dogs with heart enlargement are at greater risk of heart failure.

Congestive Heart Failure Diagnosis

Your vet will gather information about your dog’s medical history to determine whether it supports heart disease or heart failure. Or if congenital or acquired heart disease is more likely. Findings from the history will help combined with results of the physical examination.

Biochemistry monitoring will ensure that the lowest effective doses of drugs get administered.

Heart Murmur Data

There are three types of heart murmur – systolic, diastolic, and continuous. Systolic murmurs take place when the heart is contracting, caused by narrowing blood vessels obstructing blood flow. Diastolic murmurs occur in between beats – leaks from the aortic valve cause this and it’s very rare.

Continuous murmurs take place throughout the heartbeat cycle possibly due to congenital heart disease. Dog heart murmur life expectancy, in this case, can be up to two years.

How long can a dog live with a heart murmur? You can be trained to regularly monitor your dog to help live the longest and best life. Maintaining a healthy weight, having regular dental cleanings, and providing a high-quality diet with increased omega-3 essential fatty acids are all a proactive way of keeping your dog healthy for many years.

Treatments for Chronic Heart Failure

The goal of any treatment is to reduce the amount of fluid surrounding the heart – letting it function properly pumping blood to lungs and other vital organs.

Recommendations for Quality of Life

You’ll be given advice on how to monitor your dog’s heart disease at home. This may include recording resting and sleeping breath rates. The normal heart rate for dogs is a resting rate of less than 35 breaths per minute – commonly mid-teens to mid-twenties. An elevated breathing rate repeated within the hour of more than 40 breaths a minute needs attention from your vet.

With timely treatments and therapy, most dogs with congestive heart failure can still have a good quality of life.

Saying Goodbye

This is a difficult process to go through and we can provide you with some help with our Quality of Life Checklist. This will help you to understand some of the things going on with your dog and what to be aware of as their condition worsens.

Cloud 9 vets specialise in professional and respectful pet euthanasia in your own home. We can help you prepare for this and, when it comes to the time, we can take care of every aspect of your pet’s final care.

If you need some help, assistance or advice on this, please give us a call today.


Cloud9 CTA

We are available to help you with home euthanasia for your pet

In order to safeguard you and our vets and to comply with Government regulations there are some requirements you should be aware of and agree to before we confirm your home visit:
1. If the gentle euthanasia is indoors, only one person can be present during the vet’s visit, other family or friends should say their goodbyes before the vet arrives at your home
2. There should, at all times, be a two meter distance between the family member and the vet.
3. Our process involves sedation, you will be able share closeness with your pet after the vet has given the sedative
4. If you are able to be in your own garden, this greatly reduces the risk of contagion and it may be possible to be more than one person to be with the vet, our vet will advise you.
5. We are doing all we can to ensure there is closeness, care and compassion during the gentle euthanasia home visit. A peaceful goodbye is so important at such a sensitive and emotional time
6. Please follow any guidance our vet may give you, it is given to ensure everyones safety and well-being
7. Thank you for your understanding and consideration in these very difficult and challenging times.