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Home Care for Congested Heart Failure
Heart Disease
14 May 2024

Many owners will be worried and panic when they know their fluffy friends have congested heart failure (CHF). 


Clinical signs of CHF include coughing, panting, breathing difficulty, weakness, or syncope....etc. It sounds terrible, right? But actually If we take care of the CHF animals properly, it could decrease the frequency of those terrified clinical signs recurring or deteriorating. 


What should we do at home? 


First, feeding medicines to CHF patients regularly. It’s important to know the CHF could be manageable although it is not curable. Feeding medicines on time could be a cornerstone to control CHF well. We sometimes see the owners not feeding medicines regularly, especially after a well-controlled period, because they usually get used to it and take it lightly. They may miss feeding meds once or twice initially, and then more often until they find the patients have difficulty breathing due to recurrent pulmonary edema or effusion.


Second, heart disease is a progressive disease which means clinical signs will recur even if controlling it with medications regularly. How could we know what’s going wrong with our patients? I will recommend a simple way to monitor it at home. And it is to count sleeping respiratory rate (SRR) at home. Owners could count respiratory rate by watching their animals’ chest. It moves in and out as the dogs and cats breathe. One breath is counted when the chest has moved in and out once. Normal sleeping respiratory rate should be less than 30-40 beats per minute. Be careful, it’s a “sleeping” respiratory rate and thus it should be counted when patients are asleep. 


The respiratory rate will increase when patients are nervous, hot, or stressful, therefore, it would be inaccurate when the animals are awake. When you find your animals’ SRR has increased, the first thing to do is to count the breathing rate a few times over the next couple of hours to ensure it is a consistent finding. If the breathing rate is consistently increased, then you need to contact the vets or go to an emergency center as soon as possible.


Third, how about the water intake and which kind of food should I feed the CHF patients? The amount of water intake will not affect the severity of edema in CHF animals. Conversely, owner’s should offer enough water supply to CHF animals. The diuretics will increase the loading of kidney and the kidney parameters will sometimes elevate after long term treatments of diuretics. 


The other annoying problem is a picky appetite (anorexia) for CHF patients. Anorexia will cause loss of energy and necessary protein, and wasting of muscle, finally result in cardiac cachexia. 


Diet with high-digestible protein is good for CHF patients.


Finally, although CHF is not a curable disease, it could be manageable with the proper home care and regular rechecking with vets. 


If the CHF could be controlled well, the life quality of ill animals will be the same as the healthy animals.


☎️ If your pets are suspected or suffering from heart problems, please do not hesitate to contact Veterinary Emergency Centre (VEC) and book an appointment with Dr. David for further check-up.

General Hotline: 2334-2334
24-Hour Emergency Hotline: 6828-6620

General Hotline: 2334-2334

24Hr Emergency Hotline: 6828-6620


Location: Shop B2 & C, G/F., Luen Wai Apartments, No. 136-142 Belcher's Street, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong.
Email: cs@9lives.com.hk
WhatsApp: 5588 6088
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