Also very common in the St.Bernard world.
The signs of heart failure include the following:
* Lack of energy.
* Irregular and rapid breathing.
* Lack of appetite and weight loss.
* Abdominal Swelling
Although the signs of heart disease may appear mild at first, and may be mistaken for signs
of aging, heart failure is a serious, progressive problem and can be life-threatening. Not all
signs may be present at the same time. Some signs may also be cause by other serious
conditions. There are two types of heart disease: congenital and acquired. Congenital heart
disease is present at birth and is rare. Acquired heart disease develops over time, usually
beginning during middle-age and affective many older dogs
The second most common kind of acquired canine heart disease, Dilated Cardiomyopathy
(DCM). It’s an accquired disease in which the heart muscle becomes dysfunctional over
time. Defective transport of calcium ions within the heart muscle diminishes the cells’
ability to contract. The heart muscle becomes thin and flabby. Quietly, over a period of
several months, the thinning worsens, the heart chambers become dilated (enlarged), and
the electrical timing of the heart malfunctions and affected dogs begin to have visible
trouble. Before long, the problems cascade into full-blown congestive heart failure and
Over the usual one- to two-year course of the disease, the heart deteriorates from a
muscular, automated, fine-tuned pump to a bag of overstretched elastic with misfiring
electronics. Both CVD and DCM result in the same serious condition which is called heart
Regular examinations by your veterinarian are very important for early detection of hear
disease and management of heart failure. Treatment consists of medications aimed at
improving cardiac function, decreasing the heart’s workload and controlling arrhythmias,
if present. Prognosis depends on severity, rate of progression and response to treatment.
Heart failure often can be controlled by medication (diuretics, ACE inhibitors, digoxin).
The use of diuretics aims to reduce retained fluids, thereby easing the load the heart must
pump, digoxin helps the heart muscles contract more vigorously and ACE inhibitors reduce
the resistance in peripheral blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more easily.