One of the effects of heart failure is the accumulation of excess fluid in the lungs (oedema), chest cavity (pleural fluid) or abdomen (ascites). One litre of fluid is equivalent to 1kg in weight. As such monitoring your pet’s body weight is a useful means to track the loss or gain in fluid accumulation.
It is recommend that you weigh your pet weekly, it is often best to use the scales at your own vets for consistency and accuracy.
Your pet’s appetite may reflect their well-being. It is a simple scoring system, comparing appetite to when your pet was well prior to this illness and is as follows:
Once any congestion has resolved with treatment, a return to some exercise is good for the well-being of your pet and for the circulation. The ability to exercise also reflects the ability of the heart to function and circulate blood, so it can be a useful indication of how well your pet is doing. This is a simple scoring system, comparing the ability to exercise to when your pet was well prior to this illness and is as follows:
Coughing is a common symptom in dogs (it is rare in cats). This can occur for a few reasons. One is that an enlarged heart presses on the windpipe, compressing it and this triggers a cough; it probably feels like something is stuck in the throat. Another is the accumulation of fluid in the lungs (oedema), this needs to be moderately severe to trigger a cough. Then of course a dog (or cat) can be coughing secondary to various lung conditions such as bronchitis (or asthma in cats). Monitoring the frequency and severity of a cough can therefore be useful.
This is a surprisingly useful overall score of how well your pet is. It is a simple scoring system, comparing how happy your pet is compared to when your pet was well, prior to this illness and is as follows: