Just like human beings dogs can suffer a multitude of heart problems. These days there are many treatments available which may offer a cure or manage the condition comfortably. The signs and symptoms of an enlarged heart may be vague initially. Perhaps your dog coughing may be all that is seen at first.
As the heart enlarges heart failure and death will be the outcome,unless treatment is received. Once this condition is properly diagnosed, and treat, your dog may lead a comfortable and happy life for weeks, months or even years. During this time though the animal will need extra care, love and attention.
The right diagnosis
The first step as always is getting the right diagnosis. In the early stages of this illnesses there may be few symptoms. As the illness progresses your dog may be:
- Have a swollen abdomen
- Have a persistent cough
- Pant more than normal
- In a worse case scenario collapse.
Your dog will most likely need investigative tests, which may include an ECG, ultrasound and or X Rays. These will not come cheap. Your dog will also need to be anaesthetised for any such tests which of course carries some risks.
Sadly an enlarged heart in dogs is not reversible or curable. That said it can be treat successfully. Unfortunately though this condition will ultimately result in the dog's death.
One of the problems with this condition is that fluid will build up in the animal's abdomen. This means that the dog will need medication such as Furosemide. This is a diuretic and will help your animal pass water. This medication does result in your animal drinking plenty of water and needing to urinate constantly. Obviously this makes demands on your time.
If your pet's tummy is very swollen the vet may administer an injection to start the ball rolling. The excess fluid may then be passed in one huge amount.
Various drugs may also be prescribed in order to keep your pet's heart working. These could be called Fortekor, Digoxin or Vetmedin. As your pet's condition worsens the drugs may be added to or altered.
Eventually all that can be done medically will have been done and TLC, tender loving care, will be what is required.
Making a long term commitment
Obviously such severe health problems will mean that your pet may tire more easily. The animal will need all the love, time and attention that you can give, and more. If you are not able to give your pet what it needs it will suffer.
Treating an enlarged heart can be expensive and time consuming. Your dog will need to have a check up at least every three months. The vet may then tweak the prescribed drugs in order to achieve the maximum benefit.
Day to day life
It is important that you get into a routine. The medication will need administering throughout the day and your dog will need to pass water more than normal.
One of the most important things to remember though is to still have what fun you can with your pet. Just like a sick person the animal will need exercise and interaction. You will need to learn to identify the good days from the bad ones.
Many dogs with an enlarged heart still enjoy a good quality of life for quite some time.
Sadly, long term, the prognosis for a dog with an enlarged heart is death. It may be that you will have to euthanize your pet, or its heart may simply fail completely. You must make sure though that, through all of this, your dog does not suffer unnecessarily..
Monitor your dog's health and well being on a daily basis. Watch out for changes in the animal's weight, appetite and general well being. Try not to become overly protective and suffocating. Just learn to know when your dog needs to rest.
Make sure that your dying dog receives appropriate care.
Know when it is time for your pet to go to its final resting place and make the right decision.
You will need
- Bags of love
- A good veterinarian
- The correct medication
- The correct diagnosis
- A warm, comfortable and quiet place for your animal to rest when necessary
- A sensible diet for your pet
Tips & Warnings
- Never self medicate your animal
- Ensure that you consult a qualified veterinarian in order to get the correct diagnosis
- Once you start the dog on a course of treatment follow it through.
- Never keep a dog alive when it is suffering
- Avoid giving your dog a diet high in salt