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Vet help
Vet help, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 2736
Experience:  12 years experience as small animal vet, 21 years experience in the animal care field
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Our 10 year old male cocker spaniel has developed sick ...

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Our 10 year old male cocker spaniel has developed sick sinus syndrome, congestive heart failure, and heart valve disease. He was was put on Aminophylline(100mg tablets) Furosemide(50mg tablets) and Pimobendan(5mg tablet)    My question, the treating cardiologist said he has responded very well to the drugs, and he could live from anywhere from 1 month more to 1 year more, can you offer any other positive info on these conditions..Is it possible my dog will live at least 6-12 months more? He looks great, plays, and runs around, I am trying to limit his activity
Boy, your guy certainly does have a lot going on.
It is great that he has responded well so far to the medication and that you will have some more time with him. However, guessing how much time really is just that... a guess.
Unfortunately, once a dog tips from heart disease into congestive heart failure, it is only a matter a time before symptoms can no longer be adequately controlled with medications. Dogs who respond early and well to treatment often have a slightly better prognosis than those whose symptoms are difficult to get a handle on in the early stages. The medications your dog is on are entirely appropriate, particularly pimobendan, which is one of the newer heart medications we have available to us.
Pimobendan has been used in Europe for several years and has shown to increase life expectancy, in many cases, by up to a year or more.

As far as his particular conditions, it would be difficult to say whether or not the congestive heart failure occurred secondary to the valve disease or the sick sinus syndrome. In most cases, it it associated with valve disease, and given his age and breed I am assuming that the malfunctioning valve is the mitral valve. This is the valve between the left atrium and the left ventricle. When this valve doesn't function properly, some blood that should be pushed out from the left ventricle through the aorta to the body's organs, is instead allowed to back up into the left atrium. This causes the left atrium to enlarge and eventually leads to increased pressures within the small blood vessels in the lungs. Once this gets to a certain point, congestive heart failure develops in which fluid leaks out of the small blood vessels and collects within the lung tissue. The furosemide, a diuretic, helps to rid the lungs of the excess fluid which makes breathing difficult and further stresses an already stressed out heart.

The sick sinus syndrome can also lead to congestive heart failure if a component of the syndrome includes a slow, then very rapid heart rate. Given that your dog is on aminophylline, I'm guessing that his primary problem with this disease is a slow heart rate and sinus arrest. This usually doesn't cause congestive heart failure but can result in weakness or fainting episodes. Implantation of a pacemaker is usually the best treatment for SSS but given his other issues, would not be recommended. Unfortunately, though dogs with SSS often respond well initially to medication, they usually eventually stop responding.

As far as limiting his activity, that is a personal choice. Certainly the less active he is, the less work his heart will have to do. This is one of those tough quality of life issues wherein you need to decide what are the things that make him happiest. If he is content to lie beside you as you read a book, great. If he'd rather be out chasing a ball, you might want to incorporate some of that into his day as well, even though it may shorten his life span.

Avoiding salty foods is also important, as salt can increase fluid retention and worsen the congestive heart failure. There are special, prescription heart diets available that you might try, or just be careful about what you are feeding and cutting out any salty table scraps. Several supplements are also available, which may or may not improve quality of life and longevity. One product is Bio-Cardio produced by Thorne Veterinary Supply. You can discuss this with his cardiologist to see if he feels it would be beneficial to try.
Keeping regular appointments with your cardiologist, discussing any symptoms you notice, and making medication dosage adjustments as necessary are all vital steps in prolonging your time with him.

I hope this information helps you better understand your dog's conditions, and that it really is impossible to tell whether he will make the month or the year mark. Just love him, spoil him, enjoy him, and when you feel that he is no longer comfortable, make a decision that will bring him peace.
My best to you both. I hope he continues to do well for you.
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
thank you for you feedback, I think anyone that loves their dog as much as I do, look for any positives and a professional tell you that your dog will live longer. I am afraid to leave him when we go to work everyday. He has a 9 year old sister that adores him, and I am not looking forward to the day her brother's time is up. We are scheduled to go away the last week in August, down to the Jersey shore which is about 2 hous away from the animal hospital where he was treated. I am going back on the 18th for a follow-up, I pray he is still respnding well..He hasn't coughed since he was treatd..Best to you again Thanks
I could see from your post that you love your guy dearly and are doing all you can for him. It is always so difficult, when you fear for the worst. My dog is 16 now and there is always some worry about what we'll find when we come through the door at night. The most important thing really is just to cherish what you have right now. Live life and hope for the best; you are doing all that can be done. Give your guy a hug for me.
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