Treatment for congestive heart failure in pets involves a combination of various medications to try to enhance survival rates. The most important drugs include diuretics, such as Furosemide (Salix) and Spironolactone. These medications help reduce and eliminate excessive fluid that has built up in your pet's lungs or body. If possible, pets should also be placed on low-salt diets to help minimize fluid retention.
Drugs known as ACE inhibitors help pets with heart problems by dilating the blood vessels in front of and behind the heart, allowing the heart to beat more easily. Drugs of this class include Enalapril, Benazepril, and Lisinopril.
In cases of dilated cardiomyopathy and mitral valve insufficiency, drugs that increase the force of contraction of the heart are often used. These include the Digoxin and Vetmedin (for dogs). Based on your pet's physical exam and EKG, certain anti-arrhythmic drugs are sometimes needed as well.
In cats with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease), drugs such as Atenolol or Diltiazem reduce heart rate and allow the heart to fill more adequately. Plavix has also been used in cats to help decrease the liklihood of blood clot formation.
Many useful supplements help with long-term management of pets that have suffered from congestive heart failure. Most of these supplements will help only after the initial congestive heart failure is stabilized with medications. Some common supplements include Coenzyme Q-10 (found in Cell Advance for dogs), hawthorne berry, Dimethylglycine, and dandelion. Omega 3 fatty acids are also important in long-term management of heart failure cases. Other recommended products include Formula CV by the company Rx Vitamins, and Feline and Canine Cardiac Support by the company Standard Process.
Although the long-term prognosis of pets with congestive heart failure is guarded, pets that can be initially stabilized may lead comfortable lives for variable periods of time through the use of combination medical therapy.