I just got back from the vet with Chili my 14yr old Chihuahua. He has had a heart murmur for many years that is now starting to progress remarkably. He went from a grade 4 1/2 - 5 to a 6 in seven months while on Enalapril. We are starting him on Lasix today and she took blood work to see how the rest of his organs are doing.
I know there are still some medication options to go through, but I really want to know what we are talking about in terms of life expectancy. What exactly will happen? I know fluid builds up in lungs, heart enlarges and so forth. But if he dies of this, what happens? Will it be horrible bouts of coughing, spasms awfulness, or is there a chance he could pass peacefully and quietly in his sleep? If it is going to be awful, how will I know when we've exhausted all our medical options?
I wish I had a definitive answer for but I don't. I had the same questions when my dog died of kidney failure. Any serious medical condition can manifest with slightly different symptoms from dog to dog. A great deal is up to the dog himself.
I agree with the decision to try to treat the condition medically. Truly, that is all you can do. It will either help enough to buy some more comfortable time, or it won't. Let your dog's behavior be your guide. You have obviously done a wonderful job caring for him in that he's lived to this great age, and I'm sure you will make the right decision when it's time at the end of his life.
Life expectancy is nearly impossible to gauge. Sometimes we fall over of a stroke or heart attack with little or no warning, and other times dying is a long, drawn-out process of suffering. There is just no way of knowing which way it will go. Know that you have done, and are doing everything you need to do for your dog's well-being. That is all any of us can do. :-)
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