The diagnosis of heart disease in your dog is hard to hear no matter what the age.  Although it’s more expected when the dogs are older, hearing the diagnosis is still very difficult.

But, it’s not an immediate death sentence and there are alternatives for treating dogs with heart disease. Prognosis really depends on how quickly you get your dog to the vet and an official diagnosis is made.

While genetics certainly play a role, there are several other factors that are major contributors to the disease including lack of exercise, diet and obesity. We’ve actually been pretty lucky with our own dogs when it comes to heart disease, even our seniors.

However, certain breeds like our Doberman Pinscher are at the highest risk for developing Dilated Cardiomyopathy aka enlarged heart.

The Two Types of Heart Disease In Dogs

  1. Congenital – meaning the dog was born with it and most likely it is genetic.
  2. Acquired – affecting middle age to senior dogs and the disease developed over time.

The Most Common Forms Of Dog Heart Disease

  1. Arrhythmias – The dog’s electrical system in the body isn’t telling the heart how to beat.
  2. Pericardial Disease – There is a sac that surrounds the heart and it fills with fluid preventing the heart from beating normally.
  3. Dilated Cardiomyopathy (Our Jenna was diagnosed with this) – This disease affects the muscle of the heart impairing the ability to pump normally. As it progresses, the chambers of the heart become enlarged and valves leak.
  4. Mitral Valve Disease – The heart valves start to leak causing poor circulation and blood pressure.
  5. Chronic Valvular Heart Disease – The heart valves thicken and become impaired.

Please see our recommended natural products here for dogs with chronic heart problems.

Symptoms Of Dog Congestive Heart Failure Depend on Progression

Unfortunately, symptoms appear when the heart actually starts to fail. These are some common signs that a dog may be in mild heart failure:  Learn the symptoms of heatstroke in dogs.

  1. Weight loss
  2. No appetite
  3. Vomiting
  4. Lethargic
  5. Weak
  6. Coughing (noticeable at night)
  7. Difficulty breathing

The following symptoms often occur when a dog is in severe heart failure:

  1. Diarrhea
  2. Loss of energy
  3. Edema (build up of fluid in the body tissues/cavity)
  4. Fainting
  5. Swollen abdomen (ascites) and limbs
  6. Poor circulation – tongue and gum’s are blue in color (monitor your dog’s circulation by checking capillary refill time in your dog’s gum’s – see instructions below)
  7. Depression
  8. Difficulty breathing at all times – even when resting
  9. Excessive thirst and urination
  10. Exercise intolerance (can be a first sign of heart failure – fluid builds in the lungs)
  11. Dog has an increased heart rate and a weak pulse

You Can Monitor Your Dog’s Capillary Refill Time (CRT)

What you are looking for here is how quickly the color returns to your dog’s gum’s when pressure is applied then released. This little test tells how the blood, lungs and heart are doing. How well blood and oxygen are reaching the cells. There are many little capillaries in dogs gum’s and applying pressure to the vessels forces blood out of the capillaries. Once pressure is released, blood should immediately refill the capillaries in roughly 1-2 seconds which is considered the normal refill time.

To give you a better understanding, try this on yourself: firmly press the tip of your own fingernail and watch it turn white; now release and the blood immediately flows back returning the nail to normal color.

**Note – Be sure to take notice of the actual color of your dog’s gums before you start. Most healthy gum’s are pink.

**Note – Don’t check the gum’s when he first wakes up because they will be paler in color (wait approx. 10 minutes) or right after exercise because they will be pinker.

  1. Press your finger against the dog’s gum line over the canine tooth applying pressure until the gum’s turn white underneath your finger and then release.
  2. Once you release your finger – that same area should appear white or paler than the surrounding gum’s.
  3. If the gum’s are yellow (liver problem), blue, pale or white – seek veterinary assistance immediately.
  4. It’s also recommended that if the refill time is less than one second or more than 3 seconds, contact a veterinarian immediately.

Congestive Heart Failure

At the beginning stages of heart disease in your dog, you might not notice many symptoms. As the disease progresses, symptoms will progress and he will then move into congestive heart failure (CHF).

CHF Treatment
Whether you have a healthy dog or a sick dog, I believe in treating the WHOLE dog. This means that you don’t just treat the symptoms like often happens with traditional veterinary care, rather you treat from the inside out as in holistic medicine. Consider using both traditional and holistic treatments for managing his dog heart disease.

Traditional Treatments

  • Activity restriction must be enforced
  • Low sodium diet – A MUST when treating chronic heart failure
  • Diuretics
  • Ace inhibitors
  • Bronchodilators, oxygen and cough suppressants
  • Surgery is often an option, but rare due to cost

Natural Treatment For Dogs with Heart Disease Include the following supplements. However, you should already be giving your dog a multivitamin anyway, regardless if he has heart disease or not.  The following supplements with links would be in addition to a multivitamin since a good multivitamin contains most other amino acids, minerals, etc.  We recommend two different multivitamins. Nuvet is a tablet like a treat and the other is our tasteless powder

  • Coenzyme Q10 – Antioxidant: As directed.
  • Taurine – Amino Acid
  • L-Carnitine – Amino Acid
  • B-Complex
  • Fish Oil Fatty Acids: As directed.
  • Vitamin E
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin C
  • Arginine
  • Hawthorn Berry: Dosage: Cats and small dogs—1/8 human adult dose, Medium dogs—1/4 adult dose, Large dogs—1/2 adult dose, and Giant dogs—whole adult dose. *NOTE: Check with your dog’s vet if your already providing prescription heart medicine.

If you have a water softener in your home, it’s  important to give your dog bottled or filtered water if he or she has heart disease (anytime really), since water softeners contain large amounts of sodium.  I also recommend that you learn CPR for your dog and you can do that here.

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Showing 119 comments
  • Ann L. Johnson
    Reply

    Hi Janie
    I have passed your info on to my son-in-law’s sister (Carmen) who is the owner of Chloe, and when she lets me know how the drops work, I will let you know.
    In the meantime, please accept my heartfelt thanks for answering my many questions and your patience. I sincerely appreciate all of your help and understanding. I wish you a Happy New Year 2018. May it be better for all of us. If I did not wish you a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, in prior comments, I do so now!!

    • janie
      Reply

      Hi Ann!

      Thank you and you’re very welcome.

      I also wish you a healthy, prosperous and very, very happy 2018 Ann.

      Janie

  • Ann L. Johnson
    Reply

    Hi Janie,

    Carmen informed me that she bought the Ocu Glo cataract drops you recommended for her dog Chloe and Chloe’s eyesight has improved a lot. Thank you for all of your information and help in all respects. I sincerely appreciate everything.

    Take care.
    Ann

  • Ann L. Johnson
    Reply

    Hi Janie,

    Carmen informed me that she bought the Ocu Glo cataract drops you recommended for her dog Chloe and Chloe’s eyesight has improved a lot.

    Thank you.

    Ann

  • Ann L. Johnson
    Reply

    Hi Janie.
    Your reply to my January 22, 2018 comment appeared and then disappeared before I could type a response to you. If possible, can you send it again.
    Thanks.
    Ann

  • Maria villanueva
    Reply

    How amont water daily should be given to a sick dog with heart failure? Thank

    • janie
      Reply

      Hi Maria:

      You should never withhold water from your dog. But, you should double check with your veterinarian if you’re concerned about the fluid retention.

      Janie

  • KATHLEEN QUINLAN
    Reply

    My 13 yr old Pom has a Heart Murmur , it is the Mitral Valve. I am hearing 2 different ideas from vets. One is to not put her on any medications as she does not have Congested Heart failure. Then I hear there are medications that can be given. There are quite a few. She shows no signs, does not cough. I am trying to watch her weight and she has her naps, I am 60 and so do I.. People on the Pom site are saying if I put her on medication now she won’t get congested Heart Failure. But then I have read and heard that if she is doing fine do not put her on medications now. I am open for suggestions or someone who has experienced this. Thanks.

    • janie
      Reply

      Hi Kathleen:

      I’m sorry for the late response and I’m also sorry about your little one. I’m going share what I typically do and recommend for natural support.

      Are you doing anything at all for his teeth Cobi? If not, you need to try and do something such as using a spray and maybe gently, very gently use a plaque/tarter scaler such as this one which is the same one that I use. BE VERY GENTLE, BUT SCRAPE OFF WHAT YOU CAN A LITTLE AT A TIME.

      I use this dental spray, and I’ve used several in the past. This one is pretty good. I would use it for several days before scaling the tarter: Happy Parents Premium Dental Spray

      You MUST feed a diet that contains a lot of good sources of protein and greens. Did you by chance look at my cookbook which includes recipes for Heart Disease with 3-5 ingredients for the crock pot? If not, you can take a look here if you want: Home Cooking for Sick Dogs

      I would also use COQ10 DAILY. This is an excellent supplement from Vetriscience and here’s the link: Vetriscience COQ10 You will have to open the capsule and give your little guy about a 1/4 of the capsule daily with his food.

      Next, I would definitely include these treats for the heart, along with the Vetriscience above: Heart Treats These contain a lot of ingredients that are excellent for the heart and I often recommend them individually.

      I also recommend our daily multivitamin which includes so many whole foods including actual “heart” glandular to aid in repair. Here’s a link for that: Daily Multivitamin

      I hope this helps Kathleen!

      Janie

  • Gracie
    Reply

    When my Gracie had her very first sign of heart problems, she scared me into going to the vet immediately.
    When we walking back into the house after a nice walk…she suddenly rolled over on her back, Shook all four legs in the air and lay shaking briefly. The vet confirmed, after thoro exam…she indeed did have heart damage.
    We changed her diet…somewhat…(her master is guilty of overfeeding) she is now on three different meds daily
    is very happy and active.

  • Laurie A Boggs
    Reply

    Thank you for your website, I have found it very helpful. I have a 14 years old Chihuahua she has Mitral Valve Disease and pancreatitis…..we give her a low fat diet with enzymes and herbs for her heart and kidneys. They saved her life. Suddenly, last night she started choking and coughing and swelled up with water weight, along with respiratory distress. I used Rescue Remedy and massage to support her. She has moved past the respiratory distress, however retaining water. She is resting and ate a little food, but I am going give her a little bit at a time. She has not had any water. I am taking her to the vet tomorrow, they are booked so it is a drop off, which will stress her system…..my question is there anything you would recommend I do now to support her in any way? She has a temper (her entire life), when she doesn’t feel well, she attacks and tries to bite…unfortunately, she was abused when we got her. So won’t let me near her mouth, unless she is sedated. Thank you any wisdom. Laurie Boggs

    • janie
      Reply

      Hi Laurie:

      So sorry to hear about your little senior…. Thank you for your kind words as well.

      Which herbs and supplements are you currently feeding for her heart disease? Have you tried acupuncture not only for her failure, but to help calm her? It truly can work wonders if you do it as recommended and not just once.

      Janie

      • Laurie A Boggs
        Reply

        Dear Janie,
        Thank you so much for your kindness. I will look into an animal acupuncturist. I did call our traditional vet and they are to see her tomorrow, but they will keep her until the Vet, has time to look at her. I may cancel her appointment. As she is doing a lot better, I am watching her food intake and giving her a little bit at a time. We went for a short walk and she did okay. I am concerned about her water retention. I was thinking if I go to the traditional vet, I could get a dietetic and something to keep her calm, like a sedative, should she have another attack. Anything to support her. I would love to know your take in taking her to the traditional vet. Do you have another alternative? As far as what I give her, I am very organic and sensitive myself, I found these items a year ago https://www.petwellbeing.com/products/dog-heart-disease and https://www.petwellbeing.com/products/dandelion-root-for-dogs-pw-0058

        Ingredients on the link. I am looking forward to hearing from you. Thank you again.

        Laurie and Lucky

        • janie
          Reply

          Hi Laurie:

          You’re very welcome. With regards to traditional veterinarians; I’ve only been a fan of one over the years and that’s because she was very open and also believed in natural therapies as well. Unfortunately, she shut down her practice to become a Nun… 🙁

          I always tell my readers to try natural and that includes using and paying for a holistic veterinarian. It’s often hard to find a vet who practices just holistic medicine, unfortunately they usually practice both which really bugs me. But, you can check at the AVMA link below and just click “small animal” and then the type of service you are looking for in the drop down menu and enter your zip code and it should bring up those vets within your area. Here’s the link: Find Holistic Vet

          While I like those products from PetWellBeing, I would like to see you include some other important nutrients for the heart like taurine and L Carnitine. Take a look at this page and her kits for heart health. I think this would be helpful for you.

          Last, I realize you said you feed a low fat diet, but what exactly do you feed . Share her diet exactly. Definitely find an acupuncturist.

          Janie

  • Laurie A Boggs
    Reply

    Dear Janie,
    The name of dog food for is Nutrisource Weight Management, for her snacks I give her cooked carrot and sometimes plain yogurt. Do you know of another dog food that would better? I did not take her to the vet today. Our your vitamins suitable for human use too? I am going to put my money in the vitamins you suggested over the paying the vet. It feels much better to me. Also do you have a suggestion for a dog bone that she could chew, with all of her issues that would support her teeth. She will not let us brush her teeth, she bites us.

    Thank you so much.

    With deep gratitude,

    Laurie and Lucky

    • janie
      Reply

      Hi Laurie:

      I’m sorry for the delay today. Very busy morning and afternoon.

      Would you be willing to home cook for your little one? This will be much better for her…. Our own cookbook would be an excellent option for her and the heart condition recipes are 3-5 ingredients in the crockpot Laurie. You can view it here: Home Cooking for Sick Dogs The cost is $9.99 and it’s an instant download.

      There is NO bone that’s going to help the teeth or oral care, especially if they are really bad and this is of course only contributing to her heart issues. I definitely think you should put your money in what I recommended earlier for her.

      For her teeth, I would look at two products and either can be added to her food. The first one is PlaqueOff, but my concern is because its seaweed, if it will have any negative effect on the heart due to the high salt content.

      I don’t know much about this product, but it looks good. This too can be added to the food. Read the reviews. Oral Pet Formula.

      I hope this helps.

      Janie

  • Laurie A Boggs
    Reply

    Dear Janie, I wanted to thank you very much for your time. I feel over the top elated with your sweet heart especially, while I have been in the mist of avoiding loss. I purchased your recipe book, Thank you so much. I will also purchase the other items your recommended. Unfortunately, there is not an alternative vet in my area, however, I am fortunate enough to feel energy, so I will massage Lucky even more than I already do. I am going to endorse you on Facebook, it is not very often that I receive such warm, caring support, like you gave us. I want you to know we deeply appreciate it.

    Thank you for your time.

    Laurie and Lucky

    • janie
      Reply

      Hi Laurie:

      You brought tears to my eyes when I read your comment this evening. Thank you so very much for endorsing me on FB.

      Hearing back from kind people like yourself makes all the difference for me Laurie.

      I pray that everything helps Lucky. PLEASE stay in touch and let us know if you need anything.

      Warmest regards,
      Janie

  • Heather
    Reply

    Hi, I have a male 10 yr, 8 mos old beagle. He is diagnosed w/a grade 2 heart murmur. ** He also have a fairly large lump in his throat. His Vet has taken a sample & looked under microscope to tell me the cells or fluid is non cancerous. This lump enlarges over time & the vet has withdrawn fluid via needle aspiration. My dog has trouble breathing & I’m convinced this large lump in throat is blocking his airway. The vet says surgery is not recommended due to age & lump is surrounded by vital organs ie: trachea etc. She says to consult a Vet hospital for surgical consideration. What is troubling is the fact that she is in disagreement that this lump is causing his very labored breathing. She thinks he is breathing rapidly due to being in vets office. I live w/him & know the large lump was discovered @ same time as heart murmur. He is not overweight. I feed hills wellness prescription diet only sold at vets office. It is hills reduced weight chicken formula…dog was overweight & this dog formula is only one that took 6.5 lbs permanently off my dog. An xray was taken of lungs ok. Vet says med for blood pressure can be used but I 1st have to have a very expensive scan of heart to determine what heart is functioning & identify problem. I do not have $$ for this test. Again I am convinced that large lump in dogs throat is the culprit. I give 2 benadryl in peanut butter to him each nite, sometimes during day. Dog is panting loudly, rapidly 24/7. Do you feel vet hospital could safely remove this lump, or is it too risky..thank you

    • janie
      Reply

      Hi Heather:

      I’m real sorry to hear about your old boy. I personally would try other things first before even attempting that route. I would try natural solutions including a better diet and HILLS PRESCRIPTION DIETS are disgusting. Give your dog a chance with natural solutions first. You’d be surprised at how well dogs respond to doing what nature intended.

      I will send you a private email as well.

      Janie

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