Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Herbs for Your Dogs Congestive Heart Failure

Unfortunately, I have had first hand experience with a family pet that had significant heart disease that inevitability lead to Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). This was a result to a lifelong exposure to second hand smoke. It was a very sad and frustrating experience because it was my aunt's dog whose name was Puppy. Patty, (my aunt) came to visit, and at the time, Puppy was hacking away and he was unable to breathe properly. I really thought the poor dog was going to die on the spot and I knew something had to be done. Clearly, his prescribed veterinarian medicine was not working for him, because the dog was experiencing horrible distress. That is how I became hands on familiar with a formula called Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang, which spoken in English is called Dispel Stasis In The Mansion of Blood.

What the name of this formula infers, "Dispels Stasis"; Is that it tells us that the action of this herbal formulation. is designed to "move blood" . Understanding that the end result of CHF is the backing up and pooling of blood within the heart, is the key in which to grasp the purpose of this formula.

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, this health issue of the blood backing up, as well as the blood not moving, has a name called Blood Stagnation. It makes sense right? The blood is not moving, therefore it has become stagnated. This problem of Blood Stagnation becomes an obstruction that consequently disrupts the flow of Qi throughout the dog's body.

As result of this obstruction of blood, systemically whats going on here, is that the fluids are backing up into the chest. This then may cause the dog to experience a shortness of breath, or perhaps continual coughing or maybe even pain. Therefore, that being said, it is the intent of this formula to break apart and disperse this Blood Stagnation, so that once again, the dog's blood may move unobstructed, and more importantly reestablish the free flow of blood and Qi, allowing the dog to be more relaxed less distressed.

This is a very famous formula designed by the great TCM practitioner Wang Qing-Ren published in the book Corrections of Errors among Physicians dated back to 1830. For people who use herbal formulas and based upon proper presentation, this famous formula is used to treat such bio medically-defined disorders as; coronary artery disease, rheumatic valvular heart disease, and hypertension. (just to name a few)

Dr. Steve Marsden DVM writes that Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang is commonly used for small animals with Blood Stasis in the Upper Burner,(above the diaphragm) which manifests itself as congestive heart failure. He goes on to say that Veterinarians realize that mobilization of Qi and Blood in the Upper Burner (above the diaphragm) leads to better entry of Qi and Blood in the Channels (arteries), and to successfully move Blood, one must move Qi.

Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang , which is a formula that strongly moves Qi and Blood, is used in order to treat dogs with Blood Stagnation that exists within the chest. This formula, Xue Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang is the most common formula prescribed by veterinary herbalists in canine medicine in order to treat the following diseases;

* Congestive heart failure
* Kennel cough
* Thoracic tumors
* Hemangiomas
* Cutaneous mast cell tumor

Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang contains the following herbs:

tao-ren, dang gui shen, hong hua, chuan niu xi, sheng di huang, chi shao, zhi ke, chuan xiong, jie geng, chai hu, gan cao

peach seed, dong quai root, carthamus flower, cyathula root, raw rehmannia root, Chinese red peop0ny root, bitter orange mature fruit, Sichuan lovage root, platycodon root, bupleurum root, Chinese licorice root

I would would make the addition of dan shen to the formula, since I have had a good response from this herb. Furthermore, there has been a tremendous amount written about this particular herb and the benefits it has when working with heart disease.

This formula can be taken with western medicine. However, I caution you to not try this without consulting with your Veterinarian . Our veterinarian was really open to this type of treatment, so much so, that she suggested other formulas for us to give to Puppy. With our doctor's oversight, we also were able to stop the western medication because we had so much good luck with this formula. Puppy stopped coughing and seemed to be able to breath without laboring. He lived a good quality life until he died 18 months later of old age.


Bensky D, Barolet R. Chinese Herbal Medicine: Formulas and Strategies. Seattle,WA: Eastland Press 1990

Steve Mardsen, DVM. Chinese Herbals For Animals HANDBOOK FOR VETERINARIANS; Classical Formulas for Animals. Scotts Valley, Ca: Kan Herb Co 2006Pinky
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