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Does your dog have congestive heart failure? They may cough some, and this cough may be worse at night. While many times this disease can be easily managed with medications, there are certain times where no matter what is done, your dog is going to continue to cough. 

If your dog does have heart failure, it is best to work with your vet to have your dog on medication to help manage their heart failure.

 How Congestive Heart failure Impacts Dogs 

Congestive heart failure is seen when your dog’s heart does not function how it should. This is usually due to a valve in their heart not closing properly. 

This causes your dog to not be able to properly circulate blood and other fluids around their body. Two common locations that fluid will build up due to poor circulation are the lungs and abdomen.

What signs are seen in a dog with heart failure? If your dog has heart failure, these are a few of the most common signs that you see.

  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Exercise intolerance

If you notice any of these signs in your dog, it would be best for your dog to see your vet. One of the first signs that you will notice in a dog with heart issues is a cough.

 This is due to fluid buildup in your dog’s lungs from the heart not being able to properly circulate blood.

Diagnosis of Heart Failure in Dogs

When you first bring your dog to the vet for coughing, your vet will examine your dog to see what is causing these issues. Dogs with heart failure will usually have a heart murmur. This may be the only sign of heart disease that your vet sees on an exam.

If your dog has a heart issue, there are a few things that your vet will want to do to see how severe their heart issue is.

Chest X Rays: This will help determine how big your dog’s heart is and if there is any fluid buildup in their lungs

 Echocardiogram: This is an ultrasound of your dog’s heart to see how the valves are functioning and if there are any abnormalities within your dog’s heart.

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After running these tests, your vet would be able to give you more information about how severe your dog's heart disease is. This will also help them devise a treatment plan to help your dog’s heart function better.

Treatment of Heart Failure in Dogs

If your dog has heart failure, there are many different heart medications that your vet may start your dog on. A few common medications are:

  • Lasix
  • Vetmedin
  • Enalapril

Lasix is used to help decrease the fluid in your dog’s chest and abdomen, where Vetmedin and Enalapril help your dog’s heart beat more effectively.

Why Do Dogs With Heart Failure Cough at Night?

Dog’s with heart failure tend to cough more at night. This is because when they lay down, the fluid will fall to one side causing it to be a little harder for them to breathe, thus making them cough. 

Some vets will prescribe your dog cough medication to take at night or may recommend that you give your dog a higher dosage of a diuretic at night to help decrease the fluid in your dog’s lungs.

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Home Care to Reduce Coughing in Dogs With Heart Failure

If your dog has a mild cough, there are a few things that you can do at home to help. These are a few remedies to help decrease your dog’s cough:

Steam from a Shower: Take your dog into the bathroom with you when your shower. Close all the doors to help trap the steam from the shower in the bathroom. This steam may help decrease any congestion in your dog's lungs.

Nebulizer: many people have a nebulizer from health issues that they or their kids have had. This is something that can also be used to help dogs with a cough.

Allergy Medications: If your dog is coughing from allergies and not heart disease, you can try human allergy medications. A typical human allergy medication that dogs can take is Benadryl. The dosage of Benadryl is 1mg per pound twice a day.

Final Thoughts

If your dog is coughing, this can be a sign of heart failure. Many times, these dogs will only cough at night. What happens is that, at night, when they are laying down, fluid is moved more around one lung causing them to cough a little more.

 If your dog is coughing due to heart disease, it would be best for your dog to see a vet. Your vet will want to take x rays of your dog’s chest and possibly start them on medication to help their heart work better and your dog to live a long and healthy life. 

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