Congestive Heart Failure - Editor's Choice

Over the years, Earth Clinic readers have sent us many reports about their treatments for Congestive Heart Failure . The editors at Earth Clinic consider the below posts to be some of the most helpful and informative and have named them 'Editor's Choice'. We hope that you will find this useful.


Posted by Deborah (Chino Valley, Az) on 05/23/2013
5 out of 5 stars

Hi all, Just wanted to send an update our our Mocha. I had originally posted about him in January of 2012; we were in the process of bringing him back from a very difficult experience of heart-related 'seizure-like' episodes and I wrote at that time to share what we found to be working for him in terms of supplements.

Mocha is still with us (yay!) and doing well. As with any healing, it has been a journey. He did really well on the previous supplement schedule for some time, however he is in his later years and like any body - animal or human - it has its ups and downs. But dramatic decrease in the episodes we were so afraid would take his life. And after having so many of them, we were afraid he would not come all the way back.

He has recovered so well, and we continue to 'tweak' his supplements as Katie from Northport mentioned doing herself over time and with research. We also were blessed to have a wonderful holistic veterinarian move to our area so that we didn't have to figure so much out on our own.

Mocha is currently on:

1. Canine Cardiac Support by Standard Process. Great product, can't say enough about it.

2. CoQ10 for pets by Rx Vitamins - this is created exclusively for pets

3. Forti Flora by Purina - A probiotic supplement for dogs, and I believe they have a version for cats.

4. A Chinese herbal formula called Ding Xian Wan by Jing Tang to balance the liver, which in Chinese Medicine is responsible in part for keeping the heart balanced. This was very interesting to me, as Mocha had a long history of liver imbalance before his heart symptoms ever showed up.

5. CAS Options by Resources - this is an immune and antioxidant support.

All supplements were provided by our holistic vet, who also determined doses for our 9 lb boy.

We also give him 1 tsp of organic sweet potato baby food (great for easing constipation - also associated with the liver) and 1 tsp of fresh wheatgrass per meal which has really improved him overall. A bit of 'live food' in his baked chicken or white fish has made a lovely difference.

In his case, he did not do well on raw foods but as we've learned, there is no 'one size fits all' for people or for pets. This combination has been working beautifully for him and we are deeply grateful that he is here with us and has quality of life. He was, unfortunately, a 'puppy mill' puppy - something we weren't aware of until years later and with that, did not come from a healthy background. Health issues have surfaced throughout his life despite us giving the best care we could at the time, and in this way, his little body has been a great teacher to us.

Hope a bit of what we all have learned and shared here with one another continues to help other dear pets out there.

Best wishes, Deborah

Posted by Deborah (Chino Valley, Az) on 01/23/2012
5 out of 5 stars

My 12 lb. Pekingnese recently went through some very frightening and life-threatening health issues related to his heart. He is doing terrific now, however I want to share a bit about what symptoms were manifesting and how we've managed to stop them.

In September of 2011, our sweet dog Mocha began having something akin to night screams/seizures. In the middle of the night, normally between 1 - 3am, he would wake from sleep with a horrific scream, then go immediately into a seizure. In all of our years with him he had never shown anything like this. His seizure would then last 7 -8 minutes. It was a terrible scene to witness and watch him endure. It happened again a month later, and as we began the process of veterinary visits, tests, etc. and were coming up with no answers. The veterinarian said these were not epileptic seizures, but he did not know what they were or where they were coming from. From his model of medicine he only had Phenobarbital to offer as a means to get control of the seizures. Although we took the advice at the time, my family and I all felt this was still an undiagnosed condition and the Pheno would at best offer us some time to get things figured out. We had to bring these episodes to a halt as soon as possible as each episode seemed to erode his overall health. We were watching our beloved pup drift away from us with each episode.

As we began our research, I started online with researching 'dog screams'. Although the veterinarian said perhaps this was a dream, or anxiety, he didn't feel the dog was in pain at the time of his episodes. We wholeheartedly disagreed. Although Mocha may not have felt pain during the actual seizure, the scream occurred just before and was absolutely horrifying. It was CLEAR that he was in wrenching pain before falling into a seizure. I was amazed to find online assorted threads of pet owner conversations on the topic of dog screams... Most of which indeed were followed by seizure activity, involuntary defecation, etc. In almost each case, the dogs in question were small dog breeds, just like Mocha. Also in each case, the owner knew the dog had a diagnosed heart murmur, as we did with Mocha.

Following this thread, I started to research heart remedies for dogs. Some were specific to murmurs, others were more generalized and in each small dog case, there was also an issue with keeping blood sugar balanced. We began putting together a small grouping of supplements to put Mocha on based on the information we were finding online.

At the same time that we were doing this research, we were giving Mocha the Phenobarbital. He had a terrible time adapting to it. Aside from being basically unconscious 90 minutes after the dose for approximately 9 hours, he was starting to urinate excessively and also to pant exactly 90 minutes after each dose. Sometimes the panting was excessive and frightening. We brought all of these topics up to the veterinarian who said that small dogs tend to adapt the least to this medication, and that whatever adaptation was going to happen would happen within the first two weeks. We were a month into it at this point and becoming very concerned. In addition, it was not stopping entirely his concerning episodes. We had his blood tested to see if he was at 'therapeutic levels' of the Phenobarbital and he was not. The veterinarian wanted us to go up in dose, but our instincts told us 'no'. This dog was losing quality of life on the dose he was already on, and we felt certain that increasing his dose would decrease his life expectancy and quality of remaining life. We decided at that point to trust our instincts and begin tending specifically to his heart.

I am happy to report that since we began adding in his natural heart and blood sugar supports, there have been no screaming/seizure episodes (6 weeks now). This is SIGNIFICANT, as Mocha had gotten to the point where he was screaming/seizing several times per day before beginning his holistic treatment. We have also decreased his Phenobarbital very slowly and safely and this, also, has improved his overall health and vitality. At this point we know we are substantially below 'therapeutic levels' and that the medication is doing next to nothing for him. We are taking him off slowly simply to be safe and gentle with is system. He should be off it entirely over the next week.

I am sharing this information because I know there are others out there who may have dogs with heart murmurs, small dogs, screaming/seizure dogs and the like. I was amazed at how frequent this problem presents based on what I found online, and yet could find NONE of this information via veterinarians or veterinary sites. It all came from pet owners who have had to research and address the issues themselves based on what others were doing. Thank goodness for sites like this one... I truly have no idea what Mocha's future would have been without them.

As for what supplements we have found which address his issues:

Hearty Heart (liquid drops) from Pet Wellbeing: Dosage is determined by pet's weight. This product has been developed by holistic veterinarians and veterinary herbalists. It is absolutely fantastic and useful for dogs and cats. Our 14 year-old cat has Cardiomyopathy and this has helped him so very much as well. Can't recommend it highly enough.

L-Carnitine (liquid) from Pet's Choice Pharmaceuticals: An essential amino acid designed to assist both the heart and blood sugar levels. Very helpful in healing the heart after functional disturbances and preventing future problems. Especially recommended for small breeds. Dosage determined by pet's weight.

FortiFlora (powder) from Purina Veterinary Diets: Probiotic supplement with beneficial strains of good bacteria designed to balance the digestive system and strengthen immunity. Excellent for blood sugar issues, allergies, skin and coat issues, etc. Mocha has been on this for years, as he has a long history of highly reactive/allergic skin, itching, blood sugar issues, etc. As a 12 lb dog, we give Mocha half a packet twice per day with his meals.

Magnesium mixed with Vitamin C: Both of these nutrients are excellent for the heart and safe for dogs. We buy tablets and then powder them together in our mortar and pestle. This allows us to sprinkle them onto his food. Again because Mocha is small, he only get 2 pinches of this mixture once per day. The ratio of his Magnesium to Vitamin C is 2:1. The dose, ratio, form of the nutrient may be specific dog to dog but there is helpful information online about dosing them.

Ubiqinone (CoQ10): An important antioxidant which helps with energy and heart function. It is potent so again, read up on dosage for your pet or consult with a holistic veterinarian. For Mocha, he only takes 1 drop from a 30mg capsule. Any more than that is too much, but we notice a difference when he doesn't have it at all.

D-Ribose: This is a metabolic sugar which is found within the body, but can also be supplemented. It is excellent for the heart, for recovery of the heart and for energy production... Of of which Mocha needed. Because of his small size he only takes 200 - 300 mg day. This product can be found in most healthfood stores.

So there you are. I hope you find this information helpful if you are searching for help for your dog. Most important lessons we have learned from the experince are 1) trust your instincts and 2) do your homework. If something doesn't sound right to you in terms of diagnosis, treatment, etc. , or if you simply feel you have not gotten sufficient answers, trust your instincts. There is an abundance of information available on the web today and tho, yes, sometimes that can be misleading, when you read over and over from owners about what works/doesn't work, TRUST it. In our case we were not able to get any answers from the veterinary community (in person or online) and ALL of Mocha's help came from dog owners like you. And, do your homework... Research what is going on with your pet, what others are doing for the same issues, safe dosage amounts, etc. Take charge of what is going on, have confidence in yourself and your instincts and take one step at a time. Don't wait passively for answers and don't continue with anything that just feels wrong or is causing clear harm... Even if that information comes from the medical community. They, like us, are all still learning but sometimes the life of a patient (human or animal) can't wait and you must strike out on your own. Work closely with professionals when and how you can, but don't linger with anyone who isn't providing help or cooperating with your desire to work holistically. Put your pet and his/her life first.

Good luck to you and I hope some little puppy dog and his family out there can be helped just like we have been. We are tremendously grateful to have been steered by others to the help Mocha needed and are enjoying seeing our sweet pup return to us in every way.


Deborah, Mocha and family....