Canine Congestive Heart Failure Diagnosis

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Canine Congestive Heart Failure Diagnosis

Canine Congestive Heart Failure
Canine Congestive Heart Failure

Heart problems are commonly found in both dogs and cats.

Specific breeds of dogs, such as Boxers, Dobermans, Great Danes, and Yorkshire Terriers may be born with heart problems or develop problems at a very early age. In these breeds, the condition of cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle) results in a thinning and deterioration of the heart muscle resulting in the inability of the heart to pump with sufficient force to maintain the body’s normal state.

Older dogs of all breeds may develop congestive heart failure as the heart ages.

Most heart problems will not show visible clinical signs in your dog until late in the disease. By the time clinical signs are observed, the heart is usually already severely damaged.

In some cases, life expectancy once clinical signs develop may be short, only a few months to a year or two.

The most commonly used diagnostic criteria for evaluating heart disease in dogs is through the use of radiographs (or X-Rays) of the chest of the dog and/or cardiac ultrasonography (also known as echocardiography). However, electrocardiograms (EKG or ECG) are also sometimes evaluated for these dogs, looking for cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats).

 

Electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG)

Canine Congestive Heart Failure
Canine Congestive Heart Failure

ECGs measure the electrical activity of the heart. The most common application for evaluating ECGs is to look for evidence of cardiac arrhythmias and ECG is really the only accurate device which can be used to determine whether the heartbeat is normal or abnormal. Therefore, an ECG is commonly done along with chest radiographs and/or cardiac ultrasound studies.

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Another very common application for the monitoring of the ECG is for anesthesia. When a dog is placed under a general anesthetic or even a sedative, it is customary to monitor the ECG for arrhythmias which may be caused by the anesthetic agents used. This allows for appropriate and rapid intervention in the event of an unexpected reaction to the anesthetic agent.

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