Congestive Heart Failure

Information for cats and dogs to help with symptoms of canine and feline congestive heart failure (CHF).

Select a Topic

  1. What is Congestive Heart Failure?
  2. What Causes Congestive Heart Failure?
  3. Diagnosing Congestive Heart Failure
  4. Help for Congestive Heart Failure
  5. More Information on Congestive Heart Failure

What is Congestive Heart Failure?

Congestive heart failure is a heart condition that affects both cats and dogs of any age or breed. In congestive heart failure, the heart is unable to pump sufficient blood through to the body and often leads to an accumulation of fluid in the lungs, chest and abdominal cavity. Although congestive heart failure is not curable, early detection and treatment can greatly improve your pet’s quality of life.

Symptoms and signs

  • Shortness of breath leading to breathing difficulties
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal distension
  • Swollen, puffy legs
  • Bluish discoloration on lips and mouth
  • Fainting

What Causes Congestive Heart Failure?

Congestive heart failure develops as a result of hereditary factors, birth defects, heartworms, infections, a weak heart muscle (cardiomyopathy) or heart valve. Hyperthyroidism, obesity, aging, poor nutrition or lack of exercise can also contribute to congestive heart failure.

Diagnosing Congestive Heart Failure

The diagnosis of congestive heart failure is based on the symptoms present, thorough physical examination and review of your pet’s medical history. Additional diagnostic tests such as blood tests, x-rays, ultrasound of the chest, heartworm test, fluid analysis and ECG (electrocardiogram) may be performed to rule out any other conditions and confirm the diagnosis of congestive heart failure.

Help for Congestive Heart Failure

Treatment for congestive heart failure involves various procedures and medications to help the heart pump more effectively. In more severe cases, certain procedures such as tapping or thoracentesis are performed to remove excess fluid from the chest as well as oxygen supplementation and surgery may be required.

Medications such as diuretics, enzyme inhibitors and drugs to prevent heartworm infection will be prescribed. Your vet may also recommend a special diet to reduce sodium (salt) intake to control fluid retention. Although congestive heart failure cannot be cured, with proper treatment and management, your pet can continue to live a longer life.


More Information on Congestive Heart Failure

Tips to promote a healthy heart in pets

There are a number of things you can do to support heart health in your pet and these include:

  • Feed your pet high quality commercial food or all an natural diet that contains the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients
  • Encourage moderate exercise and make sure that you do not over-exercise your pet
  • Maintain a healthy weight in your pet – overweight and obese cats and dogs are more at risk of heart disease
  • Always provide fresh, clean water
  • Incorporate an immune booster to your pet’s treatment plan to boost their immune system
  • Make sure your pet is treated for heartworm infection
  • Visit your vet regularly for routine check ups
  • Reduce stress and anxiety in your pet
.tinymce-seo h1, .tinymce-seo h2, .tinymce-seo h3, .tinymce-seo h4, .tinymce-seo h5, .tinymce-seo h6 { font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; color: inherit; padding: 10px 0; } .well h4 { color: white; margin-bottom: 1em; } .well a { font-weight: bold; color: white; text-decoration: underline; } .well p{ margin-bottom: .5em; } .well__content { text-align: left; } .category.text-center{ width: 100% }