4 Things You Should Never Do When Caring for a Dog with Congestive Heart Failure

If your dog is uncharacteristically lethargic, short of breath, and have trouble lying down, then it’s a good idea to consult a vet. These maybe signs of congestive heart failure. Congestive heart failure is a health condition where the heart fails to pump the required amount of blood necessary for the body to function properly. This can be caused by a genetic condition such as mitral valve defect or something else completely such as heartworm disease. The following are 4 things you should never do if your dog has CHF.

Once congestive heart failure is detected, the vet is likely to draw out a long-term treatment plan. The course of the treatment would include periodic checks such as chest X-rays and ECGs as well as long term medication. Most vets treat congestive heart failure with Vetmedin for dogs along with ACE inhibitors. Your pet’s response to these medications needs to be closely monitored and the vet may increase or decrease the dosage based on these routine checks. Missing a vet’s appointment even when your dog apparently looks fine can have long standing consequences. Prepare yourself to take your pet to the vet’s office frequently at first. Once the condition of your pet stabilizes, your vet would allow less frequent visits.

Rely on Experimental “Herbal” Treatments

A lot of unethical companies take advantage of the vulnerable state of mind of pet parents with dogs with congestive heart failure. These herbal remedies and unregulated “all-natural” products don’t shy away from making tall claims. Relying on these can not only deter you from seeking actual medical treatment for your dog but can end up harming your pet. Stay clear of untested products that claim to treat congestive heart failure unless recommended by a qualified vet.

Not Limiting Your Dog’s Daily Exercise

This sounds like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many parents make this mistake. Some people believe that congestive heart failure in dogs happens due to obesity and rigorous exercise can solve the problem. A dog with congestive heart failure already struggles with oxygen deficiency. This means their heart has a difficult time supplying the required amount of oxygen even when the pet is at rest. Now imagine what you are risking if you force a dog with CHF to do strenuous exercise? A single exercise session can turn out to be fatal. Even if your dog survives it can undo a lot of progress achieved via medical treatment. Speak to a vet about the level of exercises your dog can take and stick to it. When it comes to congestive heart failure in dogs, more exercise is definitely not better.

Give Your Dog Way Too Much Food

Along with pet heart medications, vets usually recommend a special meal plan. This would typically be low-sodium portion-controlled food that’s easy to digest. The low salt diet helps to flush out excess fluid in the lungs, which usually happens following CHF. Feeding too much can lead to obesity, which further complicates the problem. Dogs with a lower body fat percentage do have an advantage as their heart is not as stressed as a dog that is obese.