Dogs with an enlarged heart can lead sad and miserable lives. Some love to play, others are lethargic and seem to never have the energy to do anything. The enlarged heart can cause issues with eating and drinking, too. We will discuss when it’s time for a dog to be euthanized due to an enlarged heart.
Dog enlarged heart when to euthanasia
Euthanasia should be considered when a dog has stopped eating, appears lethargic, has severe breathing difficulties, or in cases where the dog is suffering an extreme amount of pain.
In some cases, there are several treatments that can help to improve your dog’s quality of life. In other cases, nothing can be done to reverse the problem and it may be best to consider humane euthanasia. This is a difficult decision to make and one that you should make after talking with your veterinarian about all aspects of your dog’s condition.
Can a canine enlarged heart go back to normal?
The first thing that you need to do when your dog has an enlarged heart is to take him to the vet immediately.
Your vet will conduct various diagnostic tests to determine what’s causing it. If it turns out that your dog’s enlarged heart is caused by temporary factors, such as pregnancy or an infection, then your vet will recommend some medications on how to best treat it.
If your dog’s enlarged heart is due to a chronic condition or caused by genetic reasons, then there’s really nothing much you can do about it aside from treating the symptoms associated with it and making sure that your dog is comfortable and enjoys his remaining time with you as much as possible.
Is an enlarged heart a death sentence in dogs?
First, a few facts: An enlarged heart is not a disease or a medical condition itself, but rather a symptom of one or more underlying problems. The most common causes are degenerative valve disease (also known as endocardiosis), which affects the valves between the chambers of the heart, and dilated cardiomyopathy, which is a weakening of the heart muscle. Both conditions cause the heart to become inefficient at pumping blood and can lead to congestive heart failure.
It’s possible to live with an enlarged heart. In fact, if your dog has degenerative valve disease and it’s not severe, he may never show any signs at all and will continue on as normal for years to come. Even with dilated cardiomyopathy, it’s possible for the condition to be managed for many years with medication and dietary changes. However, it can also be very serious and life-threatening.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for either type of enlarged heart condition in dogs; at best they can be controlled with medications until a time when treatment becomes less effective due to worsening symptoms.
As the disease progresses, the signs will become more frequent and more intense. They may even occur while resting, which can indicate that the heart has become too large for the chest cavity and is causing complications like fluid build-up in the lungs. This fluid build-up makes it difficult for dogs to breathe normally and can also cause them to cough frequently due to lung irritation caused by fluid accumulation in their lungs.
What can be done for a dog with an enlarged heart?
The first step in treatment is to relieve the immediate symptoms of congestive heart failure. The dog may be given furosemide (Lasix), a diuretic, to help reduce fluid buildup in the lungs, and pimobendan, a medication that improves muscle contraction of the heart.
Your vet may recommend that you place your dog on a prescription low-salt diet in order to reduce the stress on the heart and help decrease the fluid build-up in the lungs associated with CHF.
If a dog has an enlarged heart, he will be experiencing a great deal of shortness of breath and fatigue. This means that you should keep your dog’s activity level to a minimum.
How long can a dog live with an enlarged heart?
Once the heart enlargement is advanced, the outcome is often less favorable. Dogs with heart failure can be expected to live anywhere from 6 months to 2 years after the onset of heart disease. Many dogs will die at home without a major crisis, while others will be more seriously ill and require euthanasia.
What are the warning signs of an enlarged heart?
Symptoms of an enlarged heart:
- Weakness during physical exertion, especially where the dog may previously have been fit and active
- Gum changing from pink to greyish-blue, suggesting poor blood circulation
- Fainting or collapse
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Weight loss
- Abdominal swelling caused by a build-up of blood in the stomach
- Chronic cough, more frequent during the night or after getting up from a lying or sitting position
- Obvious discomfort in the chest
- Breathing difficulties
Financial assistance for a dog with enlarged heart
There are a number of places to look for financial assistance for dogs with enlarged heart.
The most obvious place to start is with the local veterinarian. Many veterinarians will set up payment plans for clients in need. Some even offer discounts to clients who pay in cash at the time of service.
Local animal shelters
Rescue groups and shelters often offer financial assistance programs to owners of dogs with enlarged hearts. In addition, they may also be able to help owners locate low-cost veterinary care in their area.
Big Hearts Fund
Big Hearts Fund provides financial assistance to individuals and pet owners to help pay for critical veterinary care. The fund is primarily for pets in need of life-saving heart surgery and does not provide routine care or chronic conditions.
Care Credit has a Pet Health Program that covers everything from preventative and wellness care to more expensive treatments like surgery. Learn more on their website and see if you qualify.
You can try contacting pet charities in your areas such as PetSmart Charities and Petfinder Foundation. They may be able to direct you to local organizations that may be able to help provide financial assistance for your dog.
Many veterinary schools offer low-cost care via their teaching hospitals, if there is one near you, you might try contacting them and see what types of options they have available for you and your dog.
The Pet Fund
The Pet Fund is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to owners of domestic animals who need urgent veterinary care.
The Pet Fund also works to raise public awareness about the plight of many animals and the importance of spaying/neutering, pet identification and microchipping, as well as proper veterinary care.
Please note: This list is maintained for informational purposes only. We cannot guarantee that these organizations will provide financial assistance in all cases.
Conclusion of euthanizing a dog with an enlarged heart
Dogs with congestive heart failure require more extensive treatment and may need emergency care depending on how quickly the development of the condition occurred. If your dog is diagnosed with congestive heart failure, you’ll need to work closely with your veterinarian to determine an appropriate course of action that will best suit your companion’s quality of life.
Some dogs with an enlarged heart may have other conditions such as kidney problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer. These conditions are often treated first to see how it affects the enlargement. In case the condition does not improve, then euthanasia is recommended.
However, if your dog has a disease that can be managed such as cardiomyopathy and mitral valve insufficiency, then you should try to manage this condition as long as possible until the signs of suffering become too much for your dog.
Signs of suffering include the inability to stand, excessive coughing at night, and general exhaustion. If euthanasia is inevitable, please make it a painless process for your dog by finding a vet who will do it at home rather than in a clinic where there is minimal privacy.