Congestive heart failure in dogs is a serious diagnosis that often takes time for pet parents to process. While it’s serious, it’s definitely not a death sentence. Armed with a proper treatment plan and medications, your dog can live a comfortable and long life even with CHF.
While all breeds can be affected by congestive heart failure, smaller breeds are particularly at risk. Chihuahuas, Boston Terriers, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, fox terriers, miniature poodles, pomeranians, and other small breeds are predisposed to this condition.
If your dog gets diagnosed with CHF, it’s important to stay calm and draw out a plan of action. The following are 7 critical things you need to do after your dog is diagnosed with CHF.
Research About Medication that Can Prolong Your Dog’s Life
Right from treating CHF with Vetmedin for dogs to administering ACE inhibitors to control high blood pressure, pet medications are an integral cog of a successful CHF treatment plan. There are more than a few CHF medications that deliver promising results. Do your research and ask your vet if you find a drug that seems promising.
Prepare Yourself Mentally
When it comes to increasing the chances of survivability, time is of the essence. You should waste no time in finding a vet and planning a course of action. Prepare yourself mentally for multiple weekly trips to the vet’s office. The first few weeks of treatments are usually very important so you might want to keep your schedule fairly open to care for your dog. While it’s natural to feel emotional, don’t allow yourself to get swept away. As mentioned earlier, CHF can be contained with proper medication and care. However, it would take multiple checkups, tests, and consultations before your dog is declared stable.
Seek Help from a Veterinary Cardiologist or a Specialist
If your dog’s vet is not a specialist, don’t hesitate to seek help from someone else. Ideally, you want a pet cardiologist who has significant experience treating congestive heart failure in dogs.
Get a Second Opinion
Once your pet is diagnosed with CHF, it’s important to seek a second opinion. Take all the test results and medical documents and speak to a vet specializing in CHF. While uncommon, misdiagnosis does happen and it’s good to be certain.
Manage Your Pet’s Diet
Dogs with CHF need to be on a special low sodium diet. Speak to the vet and find out recipes good for your dog. Alternatively, you can also buy prescription dog food for your pet.
Control Your Dog’s Exercise Level
Heart diseases can result from obesity, but it’s not something that can be treated with heavy exercise. Putting too much stress on a heart that’s already struggling can be dangerous. Vets often recommend light exercise or none at all depending on the pet’s condition.
Learn How to Measure the Respiratory Rate of Your Dog
One of the early signs of congestive heart failure is a rapid respiratory rate. Measuring the rate of respiration is a great way to find out if your dog is relaxed or not. Once you learn how to measure the respiratory rate you will know when to make certain changes to make your dog feel comfortable. For example, if your dog is struggling to breathe and it’s hot, you would want to turn the AC on or skip the afternoon walk.