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Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs

The function of the heart is to pump the blood to the lungs and from there, loaded up with oxygen, to pump it to the rest of the body where the oxygen is used up. In congestive heart failure, the heart is unable to adequately circulate blood.  One of the primary reasons in dogs that the heart begins to fail is heart valve degeneration. 
The disease process and symptoms differ based on which part of the heart is affected.  Oxygen depleted blood is returned to the heart and enters the heart into the right atrium.  It then travels into the right ventricle, is pumped through the lungs, then enters the left atrium, and passes into the left ventricle which then pumps the blood to the body.Human Heart
With right sided heart failure, the right atrium and ventricle are not working effectively, and blood gets backed up in the systemic circulation, where the blood traffic becomes congested. As a consequence fluid seeps into, and accumulates in the abdomen (ascites), causing discomfort and pressing on the surrounding organs. Fluid may also leak from veins into the limbs, causing swelling, known as peripheral edema. 
With left sided congestive heart failure - the more common kind -, the blood flow gets backed up in the lungs. Fluid seeps into the lungs, causing pulmonary edema. With time the heart will become enlarged and press on the surrounding airways, causing irritation. The most common clinical signs are reduced energy level and coughing. You may notice that your dog does not enjoy going for walks anymore, lags behind and doesn't play with her toys. Her breathing may appear rapid and more labored.

Physical exam, x-rays, electrocardiogram and an ultrasound of the heart will offer great information and will help your veterinarian and veterinary cardiologist make a diagnosis and create a treatment plan for your dog. Close monitoring may be needed after initiating therapy, as the medications prescribed can affect other internal organs.

When therapy is successful, you will notice a decrease in coughing and an improved ability to breath. As a rule of thumb, your veterinarian will ask you to report if the breathing rate is faster than 40 breaths per minute at rest.

Much progress has been made in the treatment of heart failure and with proper care and monitoring, your dog's quality and length of life can be greatly improved.

August: The Maine Coon

History of the Breedfree maine coon

The Maine Coon is one of the oldest natural breeds of cats in North America. It is the official state cat of Maine, hence the name, Maine Coon. No one knows for sure the exact origins of this breed, but likely it was ship cats that intermingled with local cats on ports of call along the eastern coast of the United States. 

Maine Coons are noted for their large bone structure and luxurious coat. The males can reach 15-25lbs, and females 10-15lbs. They are slow growing and don’t reach their mature size until they are 3-5 years old. Their coat is soft and silky, and their tail puffy and raccoon-like.   They come in a variety of colors, with the most common color being the brown tabby. They are also gentle and friendly in nature. They are loyal to their families, and tend to be relaxed around other cats, dogs and children.

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4345 France Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55410
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Westgate Pet Clinic provides veterinary services to the Edina and Minneapolis area.