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Dog Heart Failure
Heart Failure in Dogs may occur as a result of certain
changes in how the heart pumps blood to the body. Sam
Meisler DVM, a small animal veterinarian, discusses
heart failure
in terms of how it happens and what one can
do to diagnose and treat heart failure in dogs.

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Heart Failure in Dogs
Heart failure in dogs can be devastating and usually
occurs in older dogs. A dog with heart failure can exhibit
swollen abdomen. During a physical examination, your
veterinarian will listen for a heart murmur -a whosh, whosh
sound - caused by turbulence in the heart. This turbulence
is caused by blood flowing abnormally through the heart.  
The most common abnormality in older smaller dogs is the
heart valves (doors between heart chambers) not closing up
completely. If a heart valve does not close completely, then
when the heart pumps – or squeezes -  some of the blood
will actually flow backwards making for an ineffivient heart.  
The heart valves need to shut tightly so that all of the blood
moves forward into the body not backwards. An inefficient
heart has to work harder and, because it is a muscle, will
become enlarged.

Upon hearing a heart murmur, the veterinarian will perform
an x-ray to see which valve is affected. When fluid moves
backwards, it collects in the lungs causing congestion which
can be seen on an x-ray.  Medications can be given to
enlarge the blood vessels going away from the heart to allow
more blood to move forward leaving less blood to move
backwards and cause the congestion. Medications such as
diuretics cab be used to decrease the amount of fluid going
through the heart in the first place.

Your veterinarian can help you manage your dog’s condition
to attain a more efficient heart. X-rays, electrocardiograms,
even EKG’s are additional methods of diagnosing the heart
condition but the physical exam is fundamental.

- Sam Meisler DVM

The statements or information on this website have not
been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to
diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.