Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs
Most commercial diets contain excessive amounts of salt. Your veterinarian
may prescribe a low-salt prescription diet such as Hill’s h/d, Purina CV, or
Royal Canin EC. In dogs with mild symptoms, salt restriction may be the only
Exercise is beneficial, but only for dogs who are not symptomatic. If
symptoms such as easy tiring, coughing, or rapid breathing appear with
exercise, do not allow your dog to engage in activities that elicit these
Various drugs are available that increase the force and contraction of the
heart muscle or decrease the workload. They include the digitalis glycosides,
calcium channel blockers,
angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, beta blockers, and
anti-arrhythmics. These are the same drugs used in people. ACE inhibitors such
as enalapril maleate (Enacard) and benazepril (Fortekor) may prolong the life
of dogs with valvular heart disease and
cardiomyopathy, and are commonly used in dogs with these diseases. Fluid
accumulation in the lungs and elsewhere is managed by diuretics such as
furosemide (Lasix). Potassium supplements may be necessary when giving certain
diuretics. A diuretic that spares the potassium the body needs is
Dogs with congestive heart failure may benefit from vitamin-B supplements
and taurine or carnitine. Coenzyme Q is another supplement that may help dogs
with cardiac problems.
When treating cardiac arrhythmias, it is important to search for and correct
any underlying electrolyte or metabolic problems that might trigger an attack.
A number of cardiac drugs, including digitalis, lidocaine, diltiazem,
procainamide, atropine, and propanalol (Inderal), are used to control
arrhythmias in dogs. Dogs whose primary problem is an arrhythmia may be able to
have a pacemaker implanted to help control the heart rate.
With proper treatment, a dog with congestive heart failure can live a longer
and more comfortable life. However, heart disease requires close monitoring.
You will need to return to your veterinarian regularly for checkups.