Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart does not pump enough blood to meet normal body needs.
Pets with congestive heart failure tire easily, are short of breath, and cough deeply due to poor circulation through the lungs. They may actually lose weight, but the abdomen becomes enlarged due to fluid accumulation. The legs may also be swollen and puffy. Often these patients faint or collapse after excitement or exertion, and the tongue appears bluish-gray.
Congestive heart failure can result from heart-valve disease, heartworm infection, or heart defects present at birth.
Although congestive heart failure cannot be cured, many patients can live a comfortable life with proper medical management.
Important Points in Treatment
1. Treatment is aimed at removing accumulated fluids, improving the heart’s pumping efficiency, and decreasing the heart’s workload.
2. Radiographs (x-rays), echocardiograms and electrocardiograms (ECG) are used to diagnose the condition and monitor the response to treatment.