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Old 12-25-2011, 10:17 PM
22 posts, read 704,492 times
Reputation: 91


My 14 year old dog has had congestive heart failure for a while now and is taking Enalapril for it which I had once talked about. Over the last couple of weeks her abdomen began to swell and she started to refuse food a couple of days ago for the most part, though she drank water and went to the bathroom pretty normally. Today (Christmas) she started throwing up so we had to take her to the emergency Vet clinic, where we didn't get a lot of firm answers since we could not commit to over $800 in tests they wanted to do.

Basically, they drained 3 pints of fluid from her ab area, and put her on Lasix. While they wanted to do a lot more tests, one vet tech there basically did admit to me they had done enough to know what was going on with her, and basically this is about all they could do at this time. The general idea I think is that at her age and this stage of the disease, every day is touch and go and that the fluids could come back in days, weeks, or at most, a couple of months.

I'm really just curious if anyone in here had a dog with congestive heart failure in the past, and what their symptoms were, and how long they lived once they were diagnosed. Each dog is different of course and I realize our dog won't live even a single year more even with these pills, but I'm just trying to get a general idea from owners who have gone through this before what to expect as it progresses.
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Old 12-25-2011, 10:31 PM
Location: Northern MN
3,869 posts, read 14,686,154 times
Reputation: 3610
I'm sorry to say, it but it's time to get ready to say good by.

If they are draining fluids, systems are failing.
It will continue to happen and get worse.

You can see that they are getting uncomfortable.
Yet they still want to make us happy.

It's time to thank your beloved pet for all the love and make the humane decision.
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Old 12-26-2011, 08:32 AM
1,180 posts, read 2,999,422 times
Reputation: 1789
We had a Maltese that lived approximately 6 years after being diagnosed. And, when he had to be put down it was primarily because his son, age 14 at the time, became very ill and had to be put down. Shimo, 18 at the time, was blind and deaf and was just totally lost without Jamie to lead him. If Jamie hadn't become ill, I would guess Shimo would have lived another year or so.

Have you asked your vet what the prognosis is?

If the dog is suffering, it is time to say good bye. But only you with your vet's help can answer that question.
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Old 12-26-2011, 04:58 PM
Location: Manhattan, Ks
1,280 posts, read 6,825,079 times
Reputation: 1813
For heart failure, enalapril is pretty much useless without lasix. Some vets will put them on the enalapril before they actually go into heart failure, hoping to stave off symptoms for a while. There's no research to back this up, but it probably doesn't hurt. If fluid is building up in her abdomen she either has had severe left sided failure for a long time and now it's starting to affect her right side or she has primarily right sided failure. This is all assuming it really is her heart and not something else like cancer, which you can't know unless you are willing and able to run some tests, like a chest x-ray and/or ultrasound of her heart. Has she had trouble breathing at all? If not it might be right-sided failure which needs additional medications like pimobendan (Vetmedin) and sildenafil (Viagra). If you aren't going to run the tests you can try to just manage her symptomatically, but that may be tricky. How long you can keep her with good quality of life really depends on what's causing all this. My bosses have kept some dogs going with very good quality of life for over a year or even two, with careful management.
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Old 12-26-2011, 10:14 PM
22 posts, read 704,492 times
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Went to my regular vet who was open today. After the drainage from last night, the dog was much better (acting/looking) this morning. We went out to run some errands for 3 hours and upon our return one side of her was swollen again.

After a couple of hours I was able to get in to my regular vet and then the swelling had done down (?!). They only guessed that a tumor in her abdomen had shifted somehow and made it look like a swollen area of fluid. An Xray showed fluid was actually NOT re-accumulating in that area (at least yet).

A previous vet had diagnosed the heart failure thing. This more regular vet is disputing those findings via the xrays saying the heart looks normal, except there is a tumor next to it. She seems to think that the Enalapril isn't needed. Liver levels were higher than normal. She placed the dog today on two types of antibiotics, kept her on Lasix, and put her on Prednisone (20 mg once a day for 3 days, then every-other day). She said she cannot be 100% sure of the diagnosis without an ultrasound, but today's tests/Xrays/blood work were $600 and they want $450 for an ultrasound (!!!) so I told her to diagnose what she could based on the tests she did today and go from there.

As of the moment the dog is eating again, hasn't thrown up since the fluid was drained and is acting better. I know, at 14, it's a day-to-day thing so I guess we'll see.
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Old 12-27-2011, 07:33 AM
Location: Maine's garden spot
3,448 posts, read 6,808,464 times
Reputation: 3984
Good luck to you, I wish you well.
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Old 12-27-2011, 10:05 AM
Location: Manhattan, Ks
1,280 posts, read 6,825,079 times
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Wishing you all the best!
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:01 PM
Location: Florida (SW)
46,196 posts, read 21,002,421 times
Reputation: 47043
Good Luck with your dog.....and don't beat up on yourself. Just promise you dog you will do what you can to help her get better.....but more importantly.....you won't let her suffer. It is so hard to see them like that and to think of letting go.....but we owe it to our dogs not to let them suffer.
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:46 PM
Location: "The Sunshine State"
4,334 posts, read 13,249,900 times
Reputation: 3056
I took my little deaf pittie to the vet with labored breathing. I left her there for an over the phone ekg. She died soon after I left the vets office. I am still devastated, I miss my little girl. It will be 2 years already this March 20th. ...
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Old 12-31-2011, 11:53 PM
22 posts, read 704,492 times
Reputation: 91
My dog had to be put to sleep earlier this evening (Saturday). After the last visit to the vet and the meds they gave her, she perked up for a few days and at least came closer to normal than she had been in a while, but in the last two days she started sliding downhill quickly again.

When I came home from running a 2 hour errand today she had vomited throughout the house. She was lethargic and not walking well. I let her outside for a while and she not only vomited the two all-natural biscuits I tried on her at two different times, but it seemed water was even making her sick as well. Two of the piles outside seemed to have blood in them. She also appeared more swollen, in visible discomfort, etc.

I made the call to the Vet that comes to the house to do home euthanazia, as I just couldn't justify making the dog live through this kind of stuff for any period of time. The Vet came over within a hour and even took the time to thoroughly look over the dog's xrays on DVD, and did a physical exam on her as well. She pointed out things to me that my own regular Vet neglected to tell me -most likely because the other Vet simply didn't want to say to me the dog had a much shorter time to live than I thought. In other words, from what the newer Vet pointed out, the dog was in MUCH worse shape than I thought, and it was time.

That was about six hours ago. I have a lot of emotions and thoughts flying through my head right now, but at least I know she's not suffering any longer , and that does take an emotional weight off of my shoulders. Thank you all for your replies.
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