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Alternative treatments for congestive heart failure in dogs

Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood to body tissues. It often occurs in older dogs and can also be caused by birth defects, heartworm, worn heart valves, disease in the lining around the heart, arrhythmia and cardiomyopathy, or disease of the heart muscle. While any age or breed of dog can develop congestive heart failure, large dogs are more likely to have cardiomyopathy leading to heart failure.

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Dogs with congestive heart failure are often given medication that can cause side effects that worsen the condition. Supplements can be used with or without other medicine to strengthen your dog's heart. Antioxidants including vitamin E, A, C and B remove free radicals and can improve your dog's tolerance for exercise, heart rate, and lipid patterns. Homeopathic supplements such as calcium fluoride keep blood pressure at normal levels. Fatty acids, such as fish oil, evening primrose, or borage oil help protect muscle cells. Amino acids, such as L Carnitine and L Taurine improve hearth rhythm, lower lipid levels, improve heart rate, slow heart failure and lengthen life expectancy in animals. L Carnitine helps cells carry fuel to the heart and L Taurine helps the heart provide potassium. Minerals including magnesium and selenium help heart function. Co-enzyme Q10 strengthens heart muscles and allows more oxygen to reach blood vessels.

Herbal Remedies

Use herbs to strengthen your dog's heart, stimulate blood circulation and stimulate the kidneys to get rid of excess fluids in the lungs and other organs. Hawthorne is an antioxidant that strengthens arteries. It dilates blood vessels, strengthens a weak heartbeat and removes free radicals so the blood has more oxygen. Ginseng regulates heart rate and provides energy to dogs with congestive heart failure. Cayenne stimulates the circulatory system and makes nerves and blood vessels stronger. Garlic lowers cholesterol, reduces fat in arteries and prevents blood clots. Dandelions are rich in potassium, which is good for the heart, and they reduce fluid build-up caused by congestive heart failure. Parsley also acts as a diuretic to reduce fluid build-up that makes the heart work too hard. Ginkgo improves blood circulation and keeps blood vessels elastic.

Life Changes

Before your dog develops congestive heart failure, go for daily walks together and play active games. Take care of your dog's teeth to prevent heart infections and keep dogs up to date on medication for heartworm prevention. Dogs that already have congestive heart failure should have help getting mild exercise. Ramps should be installed in the house so they don't have to use stairs. They should always have a bowl of clean water containing no fluoride or chlorine. Diet should consist of low-sodium, homemade or veterinarian-approved food with a lot of protein. Avoid or severely limit table scraps in your dog's diet.

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About the Author

Cathryn Whitehead graduated from the University of Michigan in 1987. She has published numerous articles for various websites. Her poems have been published in several anthologies and on Poetry.com. Whitehead has done extensive research on health conditions and has a background in education, household management, music and child development.

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