Canine Congestive Heart Failure Treatment

Posted by Maureen (Il) on 02/03/2018

Our Chihuahua is 16 with a Grade 5 heart murmur. Originally, he had a Grade 2 heart murmur and elevated liver enzymes/seizures when he was 5yo and surrendered to the local shelter. We worked with a holistic vet then who had him on Milk Thistle to detox his liver (which worked well and he no longer takes). His liver doesn't process fat very well, which we remediated with a raw diet. We noticed when his food had higher fat content, he had a seizure. On the rare occasion he does have a seizure, we orally dose him with Apawthecary Tranquility Blend and rub some on his gums. It's over in less than a minute. The holistic vet started him on CardioBlend by Vitanica. It has helped him all these years. He is active and snarky! He runs around, jumps on the couch, plays with toys, etc. When he does run a lot, he will stop and cough, then continue on. Of course, he always lays in front of the heat register and is under the covers during the winter months. We are very happy that he is doing well on natural supplements and a raw diet. The Grade 5 heart murmur has not slowed this little bugger down at all.

Posted by Tony L (Queens, Ny) on 02/18/2016

I have 2 little Royal furbabies. Both are rescued, and my blessing. Lady was and is my 2nd blessing. She was just left on the street with a sign next to her "PLEASE TAKE ME". So I did just that. She was already up there in age when she came into my life and already has congestive heart problems. Everything you described with Mocha is happening to my Lady. It pains me to hear the screams and worse is to see her just sleep all day to wake up even more tired. Long story short the vet has put her on some meds that I can't even pronounce, for her heart. She avoids her food and I think she smells it. Now it seems lysix will another for fluids in her lungs. The meds is a means for her life but it's not a means for her lively hood and for living. I already got my hands on the supplements you listed, some are already part of my daily regime. I started 3 days ago and I see a little sparkle back in her eyes. I want to thank you for this posting. It means so much to me to know there are options besides pharmaceuticals. I want to ask if there is alternate for the medicine for clearing fluids in her lungs. I want to keep this Royal demanding furball bossing me around for a bit (forever if possible) longer.

Posted by Deborah (Chino Valley, Az) on 05/23/2013

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 Giovanni (Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, USA) on 04/05/2013

My dog Bella (11 year old, 10lbs, Shih Tzu) was diagnosed with CHF, Mitral Valve Disease with a # 5 murmur about 4 months ago. The Vet recommend we take her to a cardiologist, and the cardiologist immediately put her on Vetmedin, Benazepril, Furosemide, and Spironolactone. We saw some improvement for 2 months. I hated that she is on these Meds because the bad side effects.

While only the prescribed Meds, she still did not want to eat and each meal was a fight to get the food down. She was coughing badly, she had little energy, and looked very frail.

One day I came home and walked in the door. Bella got overly excited to see me come home. She was wagging her tail doing her little dance and barking as usual and then suddenly she collapsed to floor. She started convulsing and howling. She was in distress, her gums turned white and she felt cold. I thought she was having a heart attack. I thought it was truly the end and that she was going to die in my arms that day.

I rushed her to the VET. Bella thankfully pulled through what I later found out was a fainting spell. The Vet told me that she would have maybe 6-12 months to live and that she might require full time oxygen treatments to make her more comfortable and not to let her get excited at all as sudden death was a possibility. I disconnected my door bell, I prevented her from playing with my other two dogs. I did everything to keep her clam but she still looked and felt miserable. I was not going to sit helplessly watching her deteriorate.

After many hours / days researching on internet, talking to Dr's, and other dog owners about what "works". About 2 months ago, I found "in my opinion", a course of treatment that has unquestionably worked for my dog. I am now really convinced that she can live a long "normal" life if I keep her on this course of treatment.

Bella has significantly more energy, and has not fainted since starting this treatment. On this treatment, her breathing rate has drastically improved and is now 16 BPM while resting, before while only on the MEDS it was averaging 30 BPM. Bella's coughing has almost completely stopped (about 95% improvement).

We started by changing her diet to only freshly prepared foods that we make at home. NO MORE STORE BOUGHT DOG FOODS OR TREATS AT ALL.

Bella is a very picky eater so we had to experiment with what she would and would not eat. Any type of brown rice, carets, celery, apples, parsley, cucumber, is a no go! She will refuse to even look at the food bowl if it's in there, no matter how well you think you may have disguised it.

We discovered she loves ground turkey, and boiled chicken breast (all no salt or very low sodium). We mix in a heaping tablespoon of baked (microwaved) sweet potato in the turkey or chicken along with a teaspoon of olive oil, and a tablespoon of Quaker Oats (the quick one minute oatmeal in the big can with zero sodium) add some warm water too to the mix and serve. We also make sure she has access to lots of fresh water at all times.

Fair warning, the products below are not inexpensive. My dog is like my child, so I will do what it takes to keep her healthy. I researched each supplement to make sure I felt I was giving her the absolute best quality and best "form" of that particular supplement.

Here is an example; In my research I found It is best to use Propionyl -L-carnitine to treat heart disease and not Acetyle-L-carnitine or L-carnitine. Check the link out

Below is exactly what I give to my 10lb Shih Tzu. Please check with your VET before giving to your dog. I found the best prices are on Amazon for everything listed below.

  • D-Ribose - By Doctor' Best. 1 heaping scoop, (twice a day sprinkle on food).
  • Ubiquinol QH-absorb (CoQ10) - By Jarrow Formulas 200mg, (1 pill twice a day)
  • Propionyl-L-Carnitine HCI - By Jarrow Formulas 750 mg, (1 pill twice a day)
  • Magnesium Taurate - By Cardiovascular Research -125 mg, (1 pill a day)
  • Mega Red Extra Strength Krill Oil, - By Schiff, 500mg (1 pill twice a day)
  • L-Arginine - By Jarrow Formulas, 1000 mg (1 pill a day)
  • Colon Green Fiber Supplement with Probiotics and Enzymes, - By Futurebiotics (Sprinkle 2 pills twice a day)
  • Esther C Vegetarian Capsules, - By American Health 500mg (1 pill twice a day)
  • Milk Thistle, 200mg (1 pill twice a day)
  • Senior Vitality Multi Vitamin, - By Optimal Pet (1 pill a day)

My dog is still on conventional medication (Vetmedin, Benazepril, & Furosemide), we weaned her off of the Spironolactone, and I hope to soon be able to wean her off all of these meds soon. I'm just waiting for her next cardiologist appointment in 2 months. I'm hoping the Dr. Can see and measure her improvement with another ultrasound.

Let me tell you this combo in my opinion, WORKS as I have seen the night/day difference in my dog. She now has the energy to play and run again. The best part is I have my dog back greeting me once again at the front door getting overly excited doing her dance and barking. Day by day she seems to continue to improve. It may not work for your dog but certainly is worth a try.

Posted by Deborah (Chino Valley, Az) on 01/23/2012

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....