Heart disease is all too common in dogs. Different types of heart disease exist, but many eventually result in a condition known as congestive heart failure (CHF). When a dog develops CHF, fluid begins to build up in the lungs, abdomen and/or other parts of the body because the heart can no longer effectively pump blood through the circulatory system. Common symptoms of congestive heart failure include coughing, tiring easily, rapid breathing, a distended abdomen, discolored mucous membranes and collapse. CHF is a very serious condition, but in many cases it can be managed for a period of time with medications.
Which drugs your vet prescribes depends on your dog’s condition. Common medications include, enalapril, furosemide, and digoxin. Recently, a new drug, Vetmedin® (pimobenden), has been approved for the treatment of some types of CHF in dogs. If your dog has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and is not on Vetmedin®, talk to your veterinarian. Dogs that receive this medication in addition to other standard treatments tend to feel significantly better, and studies have shown that they even live longer than they would otherwise.