Help for a dog with an enlarged heart

<p>Our beloved dog Pippin has an enlarged heart, a murmur, and rapid heart rate. The x-ray was a bit startling and he was coughing today because his heart is so enlarged that it presses upon his airways. </p>

<p>We found out a couple of weeks ago when we brought him in for a routine teeth cleaning and they didn't do it because the anesthesia would have been dangerous for him. H was there without me and he said they recommended a vet cardiologist but said the prognosis was not good.</p>

<p>Does anyone have any experience with this? Pippin is almost 10 years old, a Maltese. I'm wondering if the vet cardiologist will have any realistic treatments that could help him.</p>

<p>Doesn't sound good. We have a 10 yr old Morkie (maltese/yorkie) and I suspect at some point we'll have to make a difficult decision too. I rue the day because we love the little guy.</p>

<p>Our 14 year old Maltese has congestive heart failure due to mitral valve disease. He was diagnosed about 6 months ago, and the X-Ray showed a very enlarged left chamber that is pushing up on his already collapsed trachea. He had 6 seizures over the past year and had been diagnosed with epilepsy, however once he started his heart medications the seizures stopped and our vet determined they were due to cardiac issues. He is taking Enalapril, Furosemide, and Vetmedin, and within three days of starting the meds he was like a new
dog.</p>

<p>The vet did complete blood work, paying particular attention to his kidney values. If the kidneys are healthy a second diuretic can be added if needed. He has started coughing a great deal again, so we're going back to the vet to re-check the kidneys and hopefully add that second diuretic. It is so difficult to watch our best furry friends age and decline. I hope you get the treatment Pippin needs soon, and that he responds as well to the meds as our little guy did. Our vet told us that with the medications, particularly the Vetmedin, we can expect possibly another year or two with our dog. At 14 he still looks like a young dog, and still runs around the house, just not as much as he used to. I'm sending happy thoughts to you and Pippin!</p>

<p>Thanks for the happy thoughts! I am sending some back to your dog too, I'm glad to hear he can still run around. </p>

<p>Did you see your regular vet for those meds? I'm a little dismayed that our vet just told us to see a specialist and didn't offer any treatment options.</p>

<p>Yes, our regular vet diagnosed him and gave us the meds. He also did the X-Rays, bloodwork, etc. Skippy weighs 5 1/2 pounds and takes the following: half a pill each of 2.5 mg of Enalapril, 12.5 of Furosemide, and 1.25 of Vetmedin. I wrap the three pill pieces in American cheese and he happily gobbles it down! Our vet said that before Vetmedin was available the prognosis was very bad, but it's a terrific medicine and gives the dogs in his practice at least a year if not more of a happy life. He described the rest of our time with Skippy to be the bonus rounds, but we will take all the doggie happiness we can get, right? Let me know if you have any questions about anything at all...I'm happy to help.</p>

<p>greenwitch, sorry about your dog. It's so difficult when they're not well. We've been through health serious health issues with one of our dogs for the past year and a half, and which will likely exist for as long as she does. We have an excellent veterinary hospital nearby that is staffed by every type of veterinary specialist you can imagine. I honestly didn't know that some of these specialties even existed. In any case, it's not unusual that your vet referred you to a specialist. Ours did the same, and it was a wise decision. Those specialists saved our dog's life, and our regular vet looks after her care now, consulting with those specialists when she feels the need.</p>

<p>I think it's wise to go for the consultation and then you'll have a better picture of what can or cannot be done. I would think that a ten year old Maltese, if treatment is possible, can have several more years of time with your family. Sending best wishes and lots of hugs to you and Pippin.</p>

<p>One of my vet's dogs has heart problems; as she says, he could die at any moment. Her response was to consult a canine cardiologist, provide the necessary medications, and make sure his life was comfortable at all times. That was a year ago and he's doing quite well on minimal medications. </p>

<p>I concur with those who say you should consult the cardiologist before making any decisions.</p>

<p>Our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was diagnosed with valvular heart disease / congestive heart failure at age 10. He had been coughing for a few months (I thought it was hay fever or something - duh!). One day I took him for a walk and he just stopped. I carried him home and he was really 'sucking air'. I took him to our local, small town vet and he started him on Lasix. I (on my own) took him to a cardiologist in the big city. He did an echocardiogram and started him on Enalapril. A week or so later he had a 2nd CHF episode. The cardiologist then started him on Vetmedin. When I took him for the original appointment I asked how long could we expect him to live. He told us 'a year or two', and he ended up having three pretty good years and died at 13 1/2. I never had to take him back to the cardiologist after that first visit. He developed some other issues during that three years, but didn't have any more episodes of heart failure. He did cough off and on all three years. I thought 'the end' would be preceded by more CHF, but that didn't happen. He had about 2 weeks of progressive weakness of his back legs due to the heart's inability to perfuse due to the bad valve. </p>

<p>The medications are really miracle workers. I would visit the cardiologist.</p>

<p>I found when treating a pet who died of heart disease that increasing the diuretic dosage when symptoms got worse helped. The medications like furosemide or lasix or whatever reduce the amount of fluid and that helps them breathe - can literally keep them from suffocating - and reduces the strain on the heart. Since heart function varies, the animal can get worse and then better for a while. I could tell the bad times by urine function and would up the dosage after I talked to the vet and we figured out the max tolerable (and would work up to that as necessary). The enalapril, etc. is an ACE inhibitor that essentially helps the blood vessels relax and function better. I found it's harder to tell how much it works.</p>

<p>Cavaliers have a history of mitral valve disease. When followed carefully and caught early, they can do well - as MidwestParent said, on a variety of meds (we too went through furosemide, enalapril, lasix, benazepril, lisinopril, digoxin, spironolactone, pimobendan/vetmedin (which we had to get special permission form the FDA to get), etc. Follow with echocardiograms, not just having a vet listen to his chest. Use a veterinary cardiologist, as you have. By the time they are coughing that not a good sign, but they can be managed for quite a while. One thing our dog didnt have was pulmonary hypertension. The treatment for that in dogs, is..... Viagra!</p>

<p>You'll probably save money getting your dog's human meds from Walmart or Costco, rather than from the vet (or a regular pharmacy). If they are on the cheap list at Walmart it will be your best price (that's where we get our cat's Prozac). $4</a> Prescription Program - Walmart.com If not, Costco was a good 30% cheaper than the vet for chemo drugs for another kitty.</p>

<p>Good luck!</p>

<p>When you say cough, is it sneezing? My 13-year old dachschund has been sneezing frequently and he isn't running around like he used to. Reading the thread makes me wonder he has the enlarged heart, too.</p>

<p>Not, its definitely a cough. Sneezing would probably be an upper respiratory thing.</p>

<p>jym, thank you.</p>

<p>oops, that should say "no", not "not". Its too early in the morning and I need coffee. But you are welcome. Maybe the dachshund is allergic to something?</p>

<p>Thanks everyone! We will be calling our regular vet today and a specialist or two also. I'll keep you all posted.</p>

<p>Just a note to second buying drugs at Costco not the vet. Put it this way: a week's worth at the vet was more expensive than 60 days worth at Costco.</p>

<p>I have a colleague who spent far more than she could afford on her dog. After huge expenses, he died shortly thereafter.</p>

<p>We love our dog, but I think you have to make sensibile decisions. Of course if you are indepently wealthy and money is no object, it's a non-issue.</p>

<p>Hi Greenwitch, just checking in to see how Pippin is doing...Skippy has been coughing like crazy again and had a seizure today. So it's back to the vet on Monday. I'm quite concerned.</p>

<p>Good luck with everything and keep us posted.</p>