What are the Signs of Congestive Heart Failure in a Dog?

Every pet owner is concerned about something happening to their canine family member. When it comes to Congestive Heart Failure, early detection can make a big difference. For some dogs early detection is possible. Other dogs do not exhibit noticeable symptoms at all.

It is possible that your dog was born with a heart defect, and it was never diagnosed. As you spend time with your dog each day, do your best to keep an eye on them and notice their regular routine. If you are familiar with their behaviors, it is easier to look for out of the ordinary behaviors that can be early-stage symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure. These symptoms can include:

  • coughing (especially at night or early morning)
  • weight loss
  • reduced activity
  • increased sleeping, diarrhea
  • possible fainting spells

As the disease gets worse, more symptoms may develop such as:

  • blue-gray colored gums,
  • difficulty breathing
  • vomiting
  • fluid lung sounds
  • unable to rest


To assist with the diagnosis of congestive heart failure, your vet will want to know any symptoms you've noticed, along with your pet’s diet, and any medications they are currently taking. If caught early on, the diagnosis can have a positive outcome.

Your dog’s examination will begin with listening to their heart. This gives your veterinarian or veterinary cardiologist a baseline to know where to start investigating. After that they may also want to perform chest x-rays, perform a blood and urine test, an EKG, a heartworm antigen test, or recommend the use of a Holter monitor depending on initial checks. Your vet may also recommend an echocardiogram, also known as an ultrasound for the heart. An echocardiogram is usually performed by a veterinary cardiologist. Your veterinarian should be able to provide a referral to one for you. Finding a veterinary cardiologist can be one of the most important parts of caring for a dog with congestive heart failure. After some evaluations and tests, your vet or veterinary cardiologist will work to create a treatment plan that works best for you and you dog.


Schedule an appointment with Dovelewis' cardiology clinic in Portland, Oregon



You can learn more information from these helpful sources we used as references.

Caplan, C.V.T., C. (2021, August 25). Congestive heart failure in dogs: Symptoms you don't want to miss. The Dog People by Rover.com. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from https://www.rover.com/blog/congestive-heart-failure-in-dogs/

Taylor, M. (2022, September 5). Dog congestive heart failure symptoms, treatments, causes. WebMD. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/congestive-heart-failure-dogs