Jan 11 2013

What’s Your Diagnosis: Heart Failure

One finding from my physical exam I did not include was a heart murmur.  This indicated that the heart was not operating efficiently, and there was turbulence caused by abnormal blood flow.  I heard a little fluid in the lungs too.  Normally a heart murmur does not equal failure, but with the way the poodle-mix looked and the fluid on the lungs, heart failure was my cheif suspect.

The color coded x-rays are as follows:

green = outline of enlarged heart (see how huge it is compared to the example x-ray?)

blue = outline of trachea pushed up by enlarged heart

red = outline of fluid around the lungs caused by the heart failing to pump fluid the right direction

orange/yellow = outline of the enlarged liver (far beyond the ribs) that is filled with blood because the heart is so backed up, and is causing other organs to back up.

So I placed this pitiful pup on three medications to help get fluid off the heart, help the blood vessels work for the heart, and to help the heart get the blood around more efficiently and pump harder.  Dogs with heart failure usually do good as long as we can get the fluid off.  The sad times are when the heart is so far gone that it cannot ever compensate, even with medical help.

My next post will be a little more about heart failure, and about what to watch for if you suspect your dog has a heart condition.

– Doc Cleland

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