Heart Failure, Congestive (Right-sided) in Dogs

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Congestive Heart Failure (Right-sided) in Dogs

Right-sided congestive heart failure occurs when the heart fails to pump blood at the rate required to meet the basic needs of the body. While it is not curable, there are treatment options that can improve the quality of life for your dog.


All organ systems in the body can be affected by congestive heart failure. Common signs include weakness, lethargy, difficulty breathing, an enlarged liver, and abdominal distension. Upon physical examination, several signs of the disease may present, including jugular vein distention, heart murmur, and rapid, shallow breathing.


Heartworms can be a cause for congestive heart failure. In some cases, congenital heart conditions are hereditary, particularly with the Boxer breed. In other cases, a weak heart muscle can cause congestive heart failure.


Your veterinarian will need to differentiate between causes for the heart failure when examining your dog. A complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. Other diagnostic tests include heartworm testing and fluid analysis to determine the cause. In addition, you will need to give a thorough history of your dog's health, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have preceded this condition. The history you provide may give your veterinarian clues as to which organs are being affected secondarily. Additionally, if there is any information you can give about your dog's familial line, it can help your doctor to pinpoint the origin of the heart condition.

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