Congestive heart failure in dogs is also referred to as CHF. It is a very serious condition that is a result of your dog’s heart not being able to pump enough blood to certain areas of the body most notably the Lungs and other organs. It is quite a common illness with some experts estimating that as many as one in ten dogs (almost three million) will experience the problem at some stage. So what is it exactly?
The condition arises due to blood not being pumped from the heart sufficiently fast and in the correct volume and this causes more blood to enter the heart. As a consequence the heart is not able to pump enough blood for what your dog needs so the heart has to work harder and faster causing a weakening of the heart muscle – i.e. Congestive Heart Failure.
Although in humans when a problem with the heart arises it causes a ‘Heart Attack – in dogs it is referred to as Heart Failure.
How the Canine Heart Works
Step 1 - The Canine Heart works in four different stages – the first stage of the process is when the blood is pumped out of the Heart. This is achieved through the bottom chamber (the heart is split into four chambers – two located on the right and another two located on the left side). The bottom chamber is called the Left Ventricle and this pumps blood from this chamber through the Aortic Valve and then around the rest of the body.
Step 2 - After the blood has been pumped all around your dog’s body (and we mean to the furthest points) it will return to the heart and into the right chamber (located at the top) – this chamber is called the Right Atrium. After the blood enters the Atrium it will flow through the Tricuspid Valve down into the bottom right chamber known as the Right Ventricle.
Step 4 - Now the blood will be pumped out of the Right Ventricle, flow through the Pulmonic Valve so that it can be used to serve the lungs (by re-oxygenating them).
Step 5 - The final stage is when the blood that has been re-oxygenated flows into the top left chamber (known as the Left Atrium). The blood will then flow through the Mitral Valve back into the bottom left chamber (the Left Ventricle) where it started it’s original journey.
Case Study – Max
Below is a video showing what congestive heart failure sounds like in a dog. This isn’t the most fun video to watch, but it’s good for dog owners to recognize the symptoms.