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Anna
Anna, Dog Expert, Biologist
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Experience:  35 years training & showing dogs. Written articles for Dog Fancy, Dogs, Dog World.
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Older Dog with CHF. Need a listening ear, if any advice? Hello,

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Older Dog with CHF. Need a listening ear, if any advice?

Hello, I have a 12 year old/5lb Chi.

He is currently on:

Vetmedin, Benazapril, Furosemide.

He has a stage 5/6 heart murmur since 2008. He was on Benazapril/Furosemide combo for a long time, in the past 2 years Vetmedin was added.

Earlier this year, I was told we had a bit of a trach problem, with collapsing and was given torb syrup to use as needed. He used it for a couple days, and didn't need it for awhile. (I was given 1 small/very little bottle in Jan and he is still on the same one).

In the past month, I give it to him at night, so he can rest. As I did notice some coughing at night.

End of April, I brought him in b/c the cough sounded different. She said he had a small lung infection (no fever but showed up on xray) and gave him Azithromycin. We used it, and brough him in after the meds for a followup this last Monday. She re-took xrays.

She said infection is gone but said he is losing the battle with CHF, the heart is enlarged now and, we're reaching the point the heart is pinching the trach/airway a bit. She said I should enjoy the few days with my pet and bring him in, in a few days.

I'm devastated.

I've read a lot of "quality of life" charts and my dog can still hear, see, walk, jump, mentally fine, he has never passed out or fainted from the CHF.

My vet went to TAMU, and knows the cardiologist team. My vet says she would be amazed if he lived 4 weeks, my vet phoned the cardio and the cardio said she doesn't think he has 9 days (and the only thing she recommended is up the Vetmedin upto 3x a day).

It's hard to believe because my dog went riding with me the entire day yesterday, and he still eats/drinks.

The only thing that makes me think that these people are not crazy is that I looked at the Xrays. I see what they're saying medically. (And I do love my vet, I know she gave my dog back to me for a full year, when we switched vets to her, and he has had a good quality of life--the other vet I felt gave up).

I'm still debating what to do, I'm spending time with him. And taking him back on tomorrow or next day for a xray to see if anything has changed.

The other thing is:

She gave us Terbutaline -- I read the side effects, given that she said give him this then bring him back in a few days, and we were unsure what we were doing, I decided to keep his usual routine cocktail of heart meds. I did not add the terbutaline -- I read some dogs have a heart attack---but then I also read a lot of dogs are on bronchiodialtors for the trach issue. What do you think?

I did not up the vetmedin, again, I'm hesitant to just change his routine, considering I don't know what I was doing. Thoughts on upping?

On monday, and tuesday, there was almost no coughing except at night, which was relieved w/ Torb -- we were joking that he feels we're taking it too serious.

Today, I notice some coughing.

Thoughts?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Anna replied 4 years ago.
Hello,

I'm so sorry that you and P are going through this. You are wise to check the quality of life guidelines because that's the best way to decide when it's time to let go. From t he way you have described P, I agree with you that his quality of life is not that bad at this point. I agree with you that it is too early to bring him in for euthanasia. You see him every day and are the best judge of when he is suffering and his life quality is no longer good. Things to watch for are difficulty breathing, severe fluid retention, appetite loss, fainting or collapse, and disinterest in life.

Your vet has given you the proper heart medications. The Vetmedin, in particular, often gives excellent results. Since the vet recommended increasing it, I believe it would be a good idea to do that. Doing that may be enough to gain a few more good weeks or months for P.

There’s a Yahoo group you may be interested in. It’s for owners of dogs with heart disease, who offer each other support and share information on treatment. You may eb able to find others whose dogs are having similar problems. You can read about it and/or join here:

http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/caninehearthealth/

There are some supplements that have been found to help some dogs with congestive heart failure/enlarged hearts. They do work best if started early in the course of the illness. If you'd like more information on them, let me know and I'll provide it (There's no additional charge.)

As for the terbutaline, only you can make that decision. Since it doesn't do anything for P's heart, you may decide the potential side effects outweigh the benefits. If the main problem with his trachea is that his enlarged heart is pressing on it, the terbutaline may not help much.

I'm not sure if you wanted anything else, since you said you needed a listening ear. It seems to me you mostly wanted input on whether it w as too early to enjoy him for a few days, and then 'bring him in.' I agree with you that as long as P is getting enjoyment out of life, it is too early. If you need anything else or have more questions, let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope it will turn out that your vet is wrong about P.

Anna
Expert:  Anna replied 4 years ago.

Hi,

 

I'm just following up on our conversation about P. How is everything going?

 

Anna