If your furry friend is a toy breed that is getting on in years, it's possible that your pet will experience congestive heart failure at some point in the future. Common signs of this condition include coughing, difficulty breathing, unexplained weight loss, fainting episodes, and blue-gray gums and tongue tissues. Fortunately, your veterinarian can prescribe medication designed to alleviate the symptoms of this condition and to help your canine companion live a longer life. However, congestive heart failure can't be completely cured, and pet owners must do their part to help ensure that the animals enjoy the best possible quality of life.
Following are three simple things you can do to help your furry friend remain relatively healthy after it's been diagnosed with congestive heart failure:
Feeding the Heart
Your furry friend with heart trouble should be fed a low-sodium diet that's high in amino acids, magnesium, taurine, and L-carnitine. Your veterinarian can advise you on which commercial brand is the best fit for your particular pet, and may be able to offer you a prescription brand. If you have the time and interest in preparing your dog's food, your vet can advise you on heart-healthy homemade dog food recipes. Whatever you decide to feed your dog, it's important that your pet likes the taste of the food -- otherwise, it may not eat enough of it to get the nutritional benefits important to pets with congestive heart failure.
Too much activity can make congestive heart failure worse in toy dogs, and your furry friend may not be able to tolerate former exercise levels. Short walks will help keep your dog in shape, but be sure to cut them short if you notice that your pet is running out of energy. If your dog begins to lag behind when going for a walk, for instance, that probably means that it's time to bring the walk to an end for the day.
If your home is a busy place with lots of activity, create a quiet space that's out of the way of normal household traffic where your pet can relax. Because most toy breeds are protective of their owners and of their territory, they tend to become excited when someone knocks on the door or rings the doorbell, so sequester your dog in another part of the home when expecting company. If you're hosting a dinner or cocktail party in your home, a small white noise machine placed near your dog's resting place will help keep it from becoming overly excited due to increased noise levels.
Your veterinarian will be happy to provide more advice for dealing with a dog with congestive heart failure.