An owners guide to congestive heart failure in dogs

Congestive heart failure in dogs is a very serious condition. It is caused by an abnormality in the structure of function of the heart. There are two forms of this disease.


In one form of heart failure, the walls of the chambers in the heart thicken. This leads to reduced pumping efficiency. The other form is characterized by the muscles the form the walls stretching thinner. This causes the heart to enlarge.

When your dog’s heart enlarges, the left side starts pumping blood less efficiently. This makes the heart work harder to compensate for the decreased efficiency. Once this compensation is no longer enough, dog congestive heart failure results.


As your dog’s heart compensates in the early stages of this disease, he will show no symptoms. This can last for months or even years. As the disease progresses, he will begin to drool excessively and get tired very easily. He may pant and cough a lot after exercise, or even while resting. Two other common symptoms of congestive heart failure in dogs includes gray membranes in the mouth and a blueish tongue.


The main method of diagnosis is an electrocardiogram. This will detect any abnormalities in the heart. Since this condition causes the heart to enlarge, an ultrasound will also be useful. An x-ray of the chest is also commonly done.


If your dog is diagnosed with congestive heart failure, you will have to restrict his exercise and sodium intake. He will also need to take medications to increase calcium in the heart muscles. This will help increase pumping efficiency and reduce the heart rate.

Dogs with this condition will also need diuretics. This is due to the fact that the reduced blood flow may cause buildup of fluids in the lungs and abdomen. ACE inhibitors will also help increase efficiency by tightening the blood vessels.