When she was first diagnosed with CHF we were advised to avoid placing Chloe under any unnecessary stress. So the only grooming
she gets is a bath, a light trim and brushing from us.

Our dog has Congestive Heart Failure
CHF in Dogs
Chloe was 8 years old on June 26, 2009. We adopted her on March 15, 2003 when she was about 21 months old. All her life to that time, was spent in a breeder's cage. We were pleased to give her a new life of freedom in a real home. She never got over her fear of strangers and she never became an active, playful dog but she did become a major member of our household. 
My grandfather died in 1939 of a heart condition, commonly known back then as 'dropsy'. Today we know the disease as Congestive Heart Failure or simply CHF. I have studied the disease just in case I or a family member should have those symptoms. I never thought that my dog would have CHF. 
In February of 2009, Chloe began coughing some. I thought it was because of her going outside in the cold, then coming back into the warm  house. In March she was still coughing and she had begun gagging a little and panting while at rest. I began studying those symptoms on the Internet and they pointed to possible dog CHF. On the morning of March 14, we were alarmed at her sudden weakness, coughing, gagging and panting. I called our Veterinerian and described the symptoms. We made a quick trip to the Vet's office for an examination.
It didn't take long to confirm CHF. Chloe's lungs and abdomen were full of fluids and X-rays 
showed that her heart was already rounded. I knew from my studies that her death was imminent and there was absolutely nothing that could be done to save her, except for trying to rid her of the excessive body fluids which could, maybe, give her a little more time with us and we could get prepared for life without our friend Chloe. 
Our Vet., Dr. Hughes, did all the right things. She started Chloe on a daily regimen of Furosemide and in a few days Enalapril was added. Chloe improved for a while. She still coughed and panted a lot and after four months the miserable symptoms signaled she would be better off dead. Peggy and
I prepared to give her up on August 4, 2009. I called the Vet's office and told them our intentions.    
Peggy drove the car and I held Chloe. Peggy chose to drive the car around town for a few minutes while I took Chloe inside for her last visit to the Vet. With Chloe lying on the examination table, ready to depart for Rainbow Bridge, Dr. Hughes said there was one more thing we could try, if I wanted to -- we could double her dose of medications to see if her symptoms eased. I said "YES!" a few more days!  
That event took place on August 4, 2009. Today is March 14, 2010 and Chloe is doing very well.
When we first began giving her the medications, she couldn't help but pee wherever and whenever she had to. It kept Peggy and me busy using the carpet cleaner several times each day. Now she asks to go outside and has not had an 'accident' in months. In February she asked to go outside and play in the snow. After rolling around in the snow for a bit, she was ready to come inside and have a nap. 
Peggy came back to the Vet office, expecting to find me crying over our departed k-9 friend. Instead of that, she found me smiling and holding a very much alive Chloe. I was ready to go home with our dog.

Chloe has some advantages that other animals and humans might not have. Peggy and I are retired so Chloe is never left alone. Peggy and I both have problems with arteries and we each take a handful of pills every day so we understand the side effects of those medications. We watch Chloe closely. If we see symptoms of low blood pressure, we can reduce the next dose of her medications. If panting and coughing increase, we can increase her next dose. These adjustments are made within prescribed limits -- I do not give here more or less than the recommended limits.

I give Chloe her pills wrapped in a small square of bologna. We have two little Dorkie dogs and when it's pill time for Chloe, they all gather 'round waiting for a bite of bologna. Pill time is like a circus.

I worry that Chloe might have pain in her mid-section due to the swelling of her abdomen so I searched for something I could give her to reduce the pain and let her sleep at night.

I haven't found any qualified person who says I should give aspirin for pain in the case of dog CHF,
but I found several qualified people who say that a dose of Benadryl is acceptable. So each night at bedtime Chloe gets 12 & 1/2 mg of the Equate version of Benadryl, much less than she could have, but enough to help her get a good night's sleep (I gradually increased the dose to a 25 mg tablet). 

While Chloe is doing good right now, we have only to look at her stomach to see one effect of CHF -- a bloated abdomen. Another of her symptoms is: increasing weakness. We have one step out the door to the back yard. Chloe cannot climb that one step without panting.  

Chloe has never lost her appetite. She loves to eat.

I've learned that a dog with CHF might not show drastic symptoms at first and sometimes the first noticible symptom might be a sudden, unexpected death. Also, there is no cure for CHF and death cannot be avoided -- only delayed for an unknown amount of time -- a day, week, month or sometimes for years. 

The following is from:

The biggest sign of this cardiac problem is coughing as your dog
tries to get rid of the fluid in his lungs.
Be on the lookout for these other common signs:
* Fainting/sudden collapse
* Agitation and distress
* Trouble catching his breath: labored breathing, wheezing, gurgling noises.
* Swollen abdomen from fluid, potbellied appearance.
* Breathing more quickly than usual.
* Tired after performing even small activities.
* A persistent, dry cough.
* Bluish discoloration of the tongue/gums during activity.

MrBear,  2/16/91 - 2/9/03
Thanks to the staff of Simpson County Animal Hospital in Franklin, KY
and especially to Dr. Teresa Hughes for helping to extend the longevity
and quality of  life for our dog Chloe. On October 2, 2010, Chloe survived 
18 months after diagnosis of CHF.
Update: by the last of November, she stopped wetting inside our house -- she
always asks to go outside now. Also, she would waken me once or twice during
the night to go outside -- by the first of  December she began sleeping all night.

October 2, 2010 updated.

July 29, 2010. All of the above still applies.

October 2, 2010.  Chloe became paralyzed in both her hind legs yesterday. 
There was no hope that she could recover. She went to sleep today at 2:15 PM.
She lived 18 months with CHF. During that time she was never left alone.
We did everything we could to prolong her life. Goodbye Chloe. You are missed.

October 2, 2010.  Chloe became paralyzed in both her hind legs yesterday. 
There was no hope that she could recover. She went to sleep today at 2:15 PM.
She lived 18 months with CHF. During that time she was never left alone.
We did everything we could to prolong her life. Goodbye Chloe. You are missed.