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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 26863
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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Aloha, I have a 12 yo ShihTzu, blind years but happily

Customer Question

Aloha,
I have a 12 yo ShihTzu, blind for 2 years but happily adjusted.He has been wheezing, coughing off and on 1 year but his vet says old age.
this am he woke up with labored breathing, no coughing, wobbly, lethargic and not eating.He does not seem to be in any pain. I don't want to take him to vet to have put to sleep if he can go in comfort of his home. Am I making the right call?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
Aloha! You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin
Perhaps...with a qualifier. "Old age" isn't a disease. A coughing and wheezing 12 year old Shih Tzu is likely to suffer from either cardiovascular disease - leaky valves, most commonly - or a sterile bronchitis. His labored breathing may indicate congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or perhaps neoplasia (cancer) in his chest.
Therein lies the rub. These dogs can end up drowning in their own lung fluid and so if you do lose him, it won't necessarily be in comfort. I see two reasonable options at this time. You can have him auscultated (listened to) and have X-rays taken of his chest to better understand what's going on in there or you can have a housecall vet come to euthanize him in a comfortable setting.
Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.