Pomeranians are known for being born with enlarged hearts, which can ultimately lead to heart problems including congestive heart failure. While this is not an uncommon issue, you can rest assured that it is a very treatable disease. When you visit your veterinarian, you will need to know what symptoms you have noticed in your Pomeranian.
So, what are some of the main symptoms of congestive heart failure in Pomeranians? Some symptoms of congestive heart failure include coughing more than usual, difficult or rapid breathing, weakness or tiring easily, pacing before bedtime, or having a hard time settling down, or increased respiratory rate.
Congestive heart failure in Pomeranians can be a result of old age, infections, injury, or bad diet and exercise. Eventually, more symptoms may develop as the disease gets worse including a swollen stomach from fluid buildup, fainting episodes, and even weight loss from a lack of storing healthy fat.
This can progress slowly, and sometimes takes years to notice. In cases where your Pom is born with a heart defect, diet, exercise, old age, injury, and infection can aggravate it. In this article, you will learn everything that you need to know in order to catch these symptoms early and get your furry friend treated promptly.
Pomeranian Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms
It’s common for Pomeranians to develop different types of heart disease, either earlier or later in life. Congestive heart failure in Pomeranians occurs when the heart gets so big that it has trouble meeting the body’s circulatory demands.
Pomeranians congestive heart failure can lead to coughing, wheezing, and sometimes coughing up liquids due to the accumulation of fluid in the lungs.
This causes swelling known as pulmonary edema. The enlarged heart will also push against the trachea, causing some irritation that will result in coughing when the dog is resting or sleeping.
To definitely diagnose this condition, veterinarians will perform a variety of tests on your Pomeranian.
This includes blood and urine tests, CBC, biochemical panel, heartworm test, and urinalysis, chest X-rays to assess the heart, blood vessels and lungs, an electrocardiogram (or ECG), an echocardiogram (or an ultrasound exam to evaluate the heart structure and function), and blood pressure measurement.
Some of the most common Pomeranian congestive heart failure symptoms include:
- Persistent coughing
- Difficult or rapid breathing
- Difficulty exercising
- Weakness or tiredness
- Fainting episodes
- Gray or blue gums
- Weight loss and muscle deterioration
- Abdominal distention
- Swollen limbs
- Sudden death
The buildup of fluid in the lungs also causes difficult or rapid breathing, and your Pomeranian may tend tire out more easily while doing their normal activities, like playing or walking.
They may also experience reduced stamina and don’t seem to be as active as they once were. These symptoms are a result of left-sided congestive heart failure, or LS-CHF, which is the most common type of congestive heart failure in dogs, especially Pomeranians. As a matter of fact, congestive heart failure is classified in four basic stages.
Stage A includes dogs at high risk for developing heart disease, but don’t currently show any signs.
Stage B, on the other hand, includes dogs that have a heart murmur, but haven’t developed any of the other signs of heart failure.
Stage C includes dogs that are showing visible signs of heart failure or have shown signs in the past.
Stage D consists of dogs that are not responding to the standard therapy and will need more advanced treatment options.
Your Pomeranian will usually show one or two symptoms in the early stages of the disease and other symptoms will appear as the condition progresses.
Sometimes several symptoms appear at once during the early stages of congestive heart failure. Pomeranians are susceptible to a condition referred to as patent ductus arteriosus.
With patent ductus arteriosus, a small vessel that carries blood between two parts of the heart doesn’t close shortly after birth as it should.
This causes too much blood to be carried into the lungs, fluid builds up, and this causes a strain on your Pomeranian’s heart. Your vet will listen for this type of heart condition and determine if surgery will be necessary to close the vessel.
When a Pom’s heart begins to fail to pump enough blood, the body is normally able to compensate and ensure the tissues and organs receive the blood and oxygen they need. But as the disease progresses, your dog’s body will not be able to compensate as much.
Because the accumulation of fluid in the chest interferes with deep breathing, your Pomeranian may seek fresh air more than usual. Fainting episodes may occur due to blocked blood flow to the brain. If this is caught in the early stages, your Pom will have a good chance of slowing down the progression of the disease.
A detailed treatment plan will be provided to you for your dog depending on the results of the exam performed by your vet.
Your Pomeranian may experience weight loss and muscle loss due to the effects of congestive heart failure on other body systems. They will most likely experience a loss of appetite, in which your vet will prescribe medication that will increase their want to eat more food.
Their kidney’s also may not be getting enough blood, so excess fluid might also build up in their bellies or around the limbs and cause swelling, known as peripheral edema. This is referred to as right-sided congestive heart failure, or RS-CHF.
Heart failure is the leading cause of death among Pomeranians that are in their older years. Heart failure can cause their hearts to eventually just stop, which is referred to as cardiac arrest, or cardiopulmonary arrest.
This occurs when the circulatory and respiratory systems stop functioning. This only means that the heart has stopped functioning. When the heart stops pumping blood, the rest of the body cannot function and cardiac arrest is the cause of death.
Some forms of heart disease will show no signs or symptoms until sudden cardiac arrest attacks.
When a Pomeranian goes into cardiac arrest, this process can happen extremely fast. Your Pom may suddenly collapse, lose consciousness, and stop breathing. All other bodily functions will rapidly begin to shut down and, unless the dog can be resuscitated within minutes, death will occur.
How to Care for a Pomeranian with Congestive Heart Failure
If congestive heart failure is caught during the early stages, your Pomeranian will have an increased chance of slowing the progression of the disease. Scheduling a visit with your vet is the best way to get a referral to a canine cardiologist to have your dog properly examined and diagnosed.
They will listen to your Pom’s chest and run a few tests, including a blood and urine test to see if your Pom has something that could be effecting their heart.
Your appointment might also consist of chest X-rays to make images of their internal organs, an EKG to test measure electrical signals from the heart, concluding with how fast the heart is beating, and if that rhythm is healthy or not.
Your veterinarian will also likely conduct an ultrasound to look at the size, shape, and movement of the heart, and then conduct a heartworm antigen test to check for heartworms.
Finally, a Holter monitor might be taped to your dog’s chest to be worn for 24-48 hours to capture heart rhythms and rate.
Effective ways to care for Pomeranian with congestive heart failure:
- Schedule appointment with the vet.
- Administer prescribed medications.
- At home support and care.
It’s likely that your Pomeranian will be put on a long-term medication regimen after they have been diagnosed with heart failure.
A lot of patience and care will be required for your pet. You will need to minimize the stress level in the dog’s environment and allow them to do a moderate amount of physical activity, but don’t let them overexert themselves.
You’ll have to take your Pom to the vet often at first, but once their condition is stabilized with medication and treatment, then the visits to the vet will decrease.
Depending on the stage of congestive heart failure your Pomeranian is in, the vet may only be able prescribe a treatment plan that will alleviate some of the uncomfortable and painful symptoms.
This could include a combination of prescriptions, and at home care. If your Pomeranian is struggling to breathe, the vet may give them oxygen and admit them to the hospital. In some cases, pacemakers are provided as treatment to correct the heartbeat. Surgery is sometimes required to fix a torn valve.
It is vital to your Pomeranian’s health that you administer to them the prescribed medications for the prescribed amount of time and take note of any changes or abnormalities in their behavior. Also, monitor their kidney health, respiratory rate, difficulty breathing, weakness, fainting, or abdominal distention.
Pay attention to any changes in patterns of eating, drinking, and urinating. This should be noted and discussed with your veterinarian to determine if it’s related to the medication. If your Pom is becoming pickier, or not interested in meals, the vet may need to adjust the medication to ensure your Pomeranian is maintaining a healthy weight.
An increased respiratory rate is typically one of the first signs of fluid buildup reoccurring in the lungs and heart. A Pomeranian with congestive heart failure may have an increase in both the breathing rate and breathing effort.
This can be easily monitored at home. Wait until your dog is sleeping or resting and count the number of breaths they take in one minute. Each breath may be seen as the chest rises with inspiration and falls with expiration equals one breath.
If they take more than 40 breaths per minute, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. It’s also important to measure the effort your dog is taking to breathe or how hard they’re working to breathe.
If your Pom is breathing with greater effort than normal you may see the abdominal muscles moving forcefully in and out with each breath. Rapid or labored breathing may be a sign to adjust the medications.
It’s important to be gentle with your Pom and show them lots of love because they may experience an upset stomach and move at a slower pace due to the congestive heart failure.
Provide them with adequate care, proper rest, plenty of fresh water, a change of diet if necessary, and have a positive attitude. Omitting salty foods from their diet is sometimes recommended to help reduce the amount of fluid buildup.
Ask the vet about foods and treats that are low in sodium and suitable for your Pomeranian or maybe even homemade meals and treats.
You should always remain hopeful that your Pom can live a long, happy life. Although, long-term medications are necessary for dogs that have gone into congestive heart failure, the medications do not cure the heart disease.
Take them in for all their scheduled check-ups and stick to the treatment plan as much as possible. Don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.
Best Medications and Home Remedies for Congestive Heart Failure in Pomeranians
Your veterinarian may prescribe multiple medications for your Pomeranian to take at home to relieve the symptoms of congestive heart failure.
Those medications will depend on the specific needs of your Pom. They may monitor your dog’s medications for a while to see if any adjustments need to be made.
Sometimes they might recommend one or more medical treatments in combination with the medication such as diuretics, which remove excess fluid buildup from the lungs or abdomen, and ACE inhibitors that open up the constricted blood vessels, allowing the blood to efficiently pass through.
This treatment is primarily used for congestive heart failure, as well as inodilators, that increase the ability of the heart’s muscle to contract and open up constricted blood vessels to reduce the workload on your dog’s weak heart.
In addition to medications, other therapies, herbs, or treatments may be prescribed to help improve the symptoms of your Pom’s congestive heart failure. If you notice any change in the activity or behavior during the first few days of treatment, you should contact your vet right away.
Some effective treatment options include:
- ACE inhibitors
- Positive inotropes
- Low sodium diet
- Exercise restriction
Diuretics are extremely effective in treating congestive heart failure in Pomeranians because it removes the excess fluid that has built up taking the extra pressure off of the dog’s heart.
Vasodilators are sometimes prescribed to relax, or dilate the blood vessels in the body, and relieve some of pressure on the heart. This allows it to pump blood throughout the body easily.
Positive inotropes are prescribed to increase the force with which the heart muscle beats. This allows it to pump more blood to the lungs and throughout the rest of the body.
A low sodium diet as well as vitamins, along with exercise restriction may also be prescribed for your Pomeranian because limiting the amount of salt they consume is critical to treating the congestive heart failure by helping to reduce fluid build-up. Sometimes the Pomeranian’s food intake or food preference may also change during this process.
It’s important to pay attention to these changes. This may be a sign that the congestive heart failure is worsening, side effects of certain medications, or from hormone-like substances that are produced in high levels in animals with heart failure. You will need to discuss these changes with the vet. A good appetite is essential to your Pom maintaining a healthy weight and living a better quality of life.
Exercise is an important part if your Pomeranian’s life, but exercise restriction is a crucial aspect of the healing process in order to reduce the risk of their condition worsening or even death. Talk to your veterinarian about the type, level, and frequency of exercise your dog is permitted to do.
Different herbs can also be used to tackle heart problems in your Pomeranian.
The three most common approaches include using heart-supporting herbs to strengthen and support the heart, using diuretic herbs to stimulate the kidneys to eliminate the excess fluids in the lungs and other organs, and using other supportive herbs to stimulate blood circulation.
There’s a list of herbs and natural supplements that relieve congestive heart failure symptoms in Pomeranians that consists of Hawthorn, Ginko, Dandelion, Parsley, Cayenne, Garlic, Motherwort, Coenzyme, Q1, L- taurine and L-carnitine, vitamins A, B6, C, and E, magnesium and selenium, and essential fatty acids.
These treatments are meant to improve your Pomeranian’s quality of life. With continued care, some Poms tend to do well.
The medications and treatments do not cure the disease, but it helps them to live a comfortable and happy life, provided they are in a stress-free environment.
The primary goals of treating congestive heart failure are to reduce the buildup of fluid, to increase the amount of blood that is being pumped by the heart to the lungs and the rest of the body, and to improve your Pomeranian’s quality and length of life.