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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.