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Congestive heart failure in dogs; when is it time to euthenize?

My dog has congestive heart failure.  I believe he is the final stage.  How do I know if he is in pain and if it is time to end his life humanely?
66 Responses
Avatar universal
What does your vet say?  How is your dog acting?  Is there still joy when you walk in the room?  Does he still love his toys?  It is the hardest decision ever to be made, and very personal, but your dog is communicating with you and will let you know if life is too much of burden these days.  I'm so sorry.

Carol
Avatar universal
Carol411's answer was a really good one.  I'm so sorry you have to go through this, it is so hard to decide.  Let us know how he is doing, give him lots of love, and try to stay calm in front of him, he doesn't need to get upset seeing you upset.
Avatar universal
my dog is going threw the same thing, he is coughing allthe time but he still gets his toy and bring them to me , he wants to play but to short of breath, he gets happy when I come in the room, want to go with me if I go anywhere,but he is worn out he dont get much rest because he coughs all the time I love him and cant stand the though of puting him to sleep. I told my husband that he will have to do it.thank you for your support just seeing what you put on hear helps by for now
1526464 tn?1300183158
I can relate to what you are going through right now. My dog too, had CHF and I tried to put him on the meds (ace inhibitors, diuretics, anti-arrhythmics, inodilators) but he could not tolerate the meds and stopped eating. I then tried force feeding him because I had to get some food into his belly. I knew at that point that the time for putting him to sleep was getting very close. He was having difficulty breathing and when I noticed that his tongue was getting cyanotic, that is when I decided that I did not want my best friend to suffer anymore. It was the hardest and worst decision I had to make two days before my birthday but it had to be done. He was counting on me to take care of his well-being and that includes making the decision to put him to sleep so he does not suffer needlessly. I know you love your boy very much and this WILL be the hardest and most gut-wrenching thing you do, but do it when it is time so that he does not suffer unnecessarily. Watch for signs like the bluing of the tongue which means that he is oxygen-deprived. He should not linger in that state. My heart goes out to you because I have been where you are now. It will not be easy but you will do the right thing for your friend who cannot make the decision for himself. Be at peace with yourself and in knowing that you are alleviating the suffering of another being. You may need to go for grief counseling afterwards so that you can process all that has happened and receive some moral support. Take care.
Avatar universal
Thank you so much. Your answer gave us some indication of what to look for.  Our little dog is no longer responding to medication and has stopped eating.  Our neighbor suggested apple sauce, which he take a bit.  He won't drink water unless I used my hand.  Our vet basically told us it was our decision.  We don't want him to suffer any longer and hopefully he will go in his sleep.  I looked the definition of cyanotic and will keep an eye for that.  Thank you!
Avatar universal
To all that have the compassion to help your companions in the end of their winter of life. Always have your vet give a shot, like the one given before surgeries. They fall asleep, like for surgery so are unaware of the actual euthanasia..this should give you and your companion no fear. Its my Belief that the hardest part when the heart stops to fight any guilt while you cry.....because at that point your companion is free, running and healthy again and will greet you when its your winter. Also the state of the companion at the vets ...don't harp on that in your mind. Most of us hope for dignity the end of our winter, in my opinion our companions do too. Don't allow that memory to over take you repeatedly, your companion deserves his or her dignity. Remember that. Of you do both of your spirits will learn to flourish.
2 Comments
Thank you!
Thank you!
Avatar universal
Just this morning I took my baby girl in.  She had been fighting for breath for the past week and coughing non-stop all through the night as her heart pressed against her trachea.  I had counted her breath at 60 per minute, she was trying so hard to stay for me. I finally knew that I was being selfish trying to hold on to her and that she deserved peace after being my ever present, faithful companion for the past 8 years.  I held her as the injection was administered by the
vet, looked into to her eyes and told her over and over how much I loved her. She passed peacefully in my arms, the hardest thing I have ever done. All of you who are struggling with this decision, think about whether you are doing it for yourself or whether you have the best interest of your loving companion. They give so much to us, when it gets hard, we have to be willing to give back to our loving family member.
Avatar universal
While this string is over the last several years, it gives me some comfort to not feel as if I'm goimg through the experience alone. Thank you sincerely.  My English Bulldog, Bocelli (Bobo), was diagnosed with CHF in late May when he presented syncope episodes. The vet gave me his pager number for that weekend as he wasn't sure how things would go. I vowed then to be grateful for every moment he was with me. After all, he wasn't gone yet and I would have the rest of my life to mourn his loss. Luckily my vet is amazing and prescribed the usual cocktail of meds to manage his symptoms. For 4 months, he's been happy and most importantly, comfortable. We've adjusted a couple of the meds since, but otherwise he was doing really well with a very healthy appetite. Until tonight. Bobo didn't want to eat his raw diet or Vetmedin tabs, and hardly wanted the cream cheese ball (which hides the rest of the pills). He later vomited the meds, cream cheese and food that was hardly digested from breakfast. He got sick again, and has been restless overall. I am hoping it's a fluke, but my gut says otherwise. I loathe the decision I face very soon if his little body doesn't give out before he starts to suffer. As much as it pains me, I have given him permission to go when he needs to... Would prefer he goes peacefully in his sleep, but if he sees the sunrise tomorrow, we'll be in touch with the vet. I fear the vet will say what I don't want to hear, but may have to do.  Bobo has taught and given me so much in his ~9.5 years, giving him a quality life and dignity in death are the very least I can return to him.
Avatar universal
Charlene, you seem to have had such success with extending the life of your Sammie.  I cannot get my Millie to eat at all. She is on sub cut drips 800 - 1000 mls daily. She was diagnosed two weeks ago with CKD and ate until three days ago.  She fell on salmon initially which we have plenty of in Tasmania, Australia but won't touch this now either.  I have tried tiny serves of organic chicken and potato but cannot get her to eat. Last night she had a little diahorrea and vomited yellow bile twice.

I had been getting Ipakitine into her sprinkled on food until now.  She has Zantac and homeopathic drops in her water to contol phosphorus levels.  I asked the vet to put Maxolin in her sub cut drip and he has also put Vit B in it for energy. BUT I cannot get her to eat.

She is sleepy but also going up and downstairs, walking in the garden. Very dull eyed. But aware. I have read this thread from its very beginning and have read some horror stories about how ill, black tongued, vomit seizures et al.  I do not want her to go through this but if she will not eat at all she will die.  Please help.

I read some amazing testimonials from Five Leaf Pharmacy in America. What do you guys think about its results?
1 Comments
Charlene oddly enough my ex is named Charlene aka; Charlie and my Basset 'Charlie' who I've had now for 3yrs was sent to me in a vision by my other Basset Rudy who I'd had to put down at 16yr3mo .... interesting story but .... Charlie is in late stage os CHF ,,, hasn't eaten in 3days .... just went to the3 store bought liver and he ate none .... putting Pedalite in his water so he isn'e dehydrated but getting worse by the day .... waiting on Homeopathic meds and praying he holds on ... any advice on how to get him to eat and what ?? ... ***@****  ... Bobby  
Hope you get this any help ... thanks !!!
Avatar universal
I just lost my 14 yr old chihuaha to CHF 3 weeks ago,  At this point I feel guilty that I put him down, Snoopy was diagnosed with CHF 2 yrs ago The vet. Made it clear if I understood what I was doing just buying him time,, the day came when I noticed the meds weren't helping him anymkre,, excessive drinking water, breathing fast with open mouth, weight loss, and bluish tongue,  I drove my dog at midnight to the vet,,my son was doing CPR on Snoopy on our way,, it has been one of the hardest decisions I have made but I didn't want to see my dog suffer it was very difficult,, he had been with me 14 yrs and when I put him down he looked fine but his heart must have been working 100 times harder to stay alive,, I still hurt alot wondering if I did the right choice but after reading g the comments here I know I did,, it's just hard to let go but  Snoopy is finally resting:( love you and miss you so much Snoopy:(
3 Comments
My little girl Oreo my Shih-Tzu, was 14 and she too was panting, coughing and gagging in the middle of the night, she had lost weight to bones but she still kept good spirits with me, Her heart was working really hard and finally I said this is a sign and had to do what I didn't want to put her down but had decided the suffering for her had to stop. IT WAS SOOOOO hard for me, I felt guilty too even though it was the right thing to do. Anyway, its not easy but it is the right thing to do for you dog.
She had CHF and almost died in December but made it through, she was running out of breath and I couldnt take her on long walks, did short ones, but any kind of exersion but her over the top. But her personality was still there that's why I had such a hard time taking her to the Vet. I did discuss it over and over with him when I found she was changing this past 10 days, I recognized that maybe it was time. Good luck to you all, Thank you for making me feel a little better with your lovely notes and letters. - Wendy
The entire time after her first incident, forgot to leave this note, she was only Lasix as she just couldn't tolerate the heart meds and seriously she was 14.
Avatar universal
Snoopy7730, I cannot believe your comment. Just yesterday, I also had to put my baby Chihuahua, Chico, to sleep. He was 15 years old but will always be my baby, my best friend, my loyal companion. He was with me my whole life since I was 8 years old. I am 23 now, and his loss is unreal. I am a complete train wreck. I haven't been able to leave my room or do anything since his loss. Yesterday I held him in my arms, and watched his last breath as I gently rocked him back and forth. I sat with him for hours even after he fell into the deep sleep. It's so hard to let our mascots go. I couldn't and still cannot imagine my life without him:( I don't understand how CHF can be so evil, sneaky, cruel, and unfair. Chico was perfectly fine (energetic, playful, great appetite, happy...) until 3 days ago when he began to show symptoms. Then over night things took a drastic turn and he almost fainted from being unable to breathe. I was at the animal hospital literally all weekend. I hate that he had to leave me this way, i'm miserable. The only thought that comforts me is knowing that he is an angel in doggie heaven :,,(( I'm looking back at fotos together of us and I just can't cope!!! I miss him so much :(
1 Comments
I had to put down my adopted mini poodle tomi yesterday. I'm in so much pain. I was never told earlier about my dogs condition until it was too late and he should signs. I only had him for a couple months and I grew so attached! He couldn't breath anymore and didn't want to eat. I just feel guilty about letting him go and not being able to do much with him, but at the same time I didn't want him to suffer and only take medications on his final years. I wanted him to be happy. I felt his last breath on my lap and I screamed and cried when his heart stopped beating. I cry knowing he's not sleeping on my bed anymore or following me around. I loved him so much. Gone but never forgotten Tomi.
Avatar universal
My 10 year old Gretchen chihuahua/dachshund mix died in the front seat of my car on the way to the vet yesterday.  Although I take comfort that I was with her, I'm riddled with guilt.   Less than 2 months ago I had to put Zena down, my 12.5 year old black lab due to cancer.  I had seen the signs of CHF in Gretchen but I wasn't sure as she's always had allergies/coughing and I suppose the more frequent occurrences of the coughing scared me and I was afraid I was going to lose her on the heels of losing Zena.   I didn't want to know...I just wanted her to get better on her own.  It's been 36 hours since Gretchen's passing and I'm having such a difficult time accepting my decisions.  Had I got her into the vet sooner,  would I be sitting here mourning her?  I think the outcome would have been the same as it seems like the meds only prolong the inevitable.  I don't know, but I'm devastated.
Avatar universal
You did as you thought best, we all have after thoughts and doubts about our choices right or wrong. No one has the power to see the future and know which is the best choice,  
yes the Meds might have given you more time, but there are side effects, I am sitting here with my 14 yr old conner, he is now in early kidney failure due to the meds  for his CHF.  wondering if it is time to say goodbye.

Just remember Gretchen as she was in life and in health, she knew she was loved and cared for  She had you with her all the way.

Avatar universal
My 14 year old chihuahua has heart failure at a scale of 4/5. She is coughing in the evenings. She has dental disease  leading to infection to her eyes. She is not eating very much and her weight drops way below average. The Vet said has to put her on heart med to stabilize her heart then might be able to remove her infected teeth. There is a possibility she might not survive during the operation. Her heart medication bill is a continuous treatment. The vet said we have to decide whether to put her to sleep.  It is very hard for us to watch her suffering. It is also very hear to put her to sleep when there is still a possibility she can recover. Can you give us some insights? Thank you.
1 Comments
I would not put her under anesthesia. She is too sick and may not wake up. Same with my maltese who has late stage chf, cancer and severe periodontal disease. No way would I put her under anesthesia.  Her teeth are falling out on their own. She still loves life, eats, and likes exploring but her cough is getting worse. You will know when it's time.
Avatar universal
Just tonight I was reading the posts and comments about dogs with Congestive heart failure and then we took our female Bassett (a rescue) to her vet for a 2 week followup. She had been diagnosed with CHF, just 13 days ago, she was put on arthritis meds, heart meds, water pill, and an antibiotic. With a "possible diagnosis" of CHF.  Come on people, putting your dog out of their pain and misery, is the best thing you can do for them. I, was trying  to be selfish, thinking of only myself. But then I realized that these animals do not have an actual voice, WE ARE THEIR VOICE.  After loosing our rescued Bischon in June 2015, to rectal cancer, if I have learned one thing, listen and look.and mostly Love your pet every day you have them.
Avatar universal
I just lost my corker spaniel 2 weeks ago due to CHF. She was on medication for 1 year and a half. Although she lost her appetite and I had to force feeding her, she was still happy to see me. Then 3 months ago I notice she became more and more uncomfortable and had hard time sleeping at night. The medications were no longer able to control the fluid building up so fast in her abdomen. I took her to have the fluid drain a few times, up to the point where I had to take her in every week. I know it was time. She was suffering so much but she was a fighter to stay for me.
It hasn't been a day passed by that I don't think about her. She lived 16 years. I still feel regret and not sure if I did the right thing or not. I know it's right for her. But doesn't seem so to me because if I hasn't put her down, she would probably be here by my side now. I wish there is a cure for CHF...
3 Comments
Today I'm face with the same challenge. My cocker spaniel, Treasure has the same problems. Everytime I decide to go lay her to rest, she wags her tail and me and I change my mind. She has the cough, she has began to retain fluids in her abdomen, even with the meds. When she goes to potty afterwards she gets delusional, dizzy, stares off and sometimes collaps as if she is having a seizure. I rock and hold her until she comes around. For 5 days I slept on the floor with her. Last night she came over layed beside me. I sang hymns, rubbed her softly until her rough breathing calmed down and she fell asleep.  Reading several post I realize that I'm being selfish. We are fighting for each other. I'm not married and have no children, Treasure has been my consistent for 16yrs. My heart is in a million pieces but God will take care of her until we reunite in heaven.....
Today I'm face with the same challenge. My cocker spaniel, Treasure has the same problems. Everytime I decide to go lay her to rest, she wags her tail and me and I change my mind. She has the cough, she has began to retain fluids in her abdomen, even with the meds. When she goes to potty afterwards she gets delusional, dizzy, stares off and sometimes collaps as if she is having a seizure. I rock and hold her until she comes around. For 5 days I slept on the floor with her. Last night she came over layed beside me. I sang hymns, rubbed her softly until her rough breathing calmed down and she fell asleep.  Reading several post I realize that I'm being selfish. We are fighting for each other. I'm not married and have no children, Treasure has been my consistent for 16yrs. My heart is in a million pieces but God will take care of her until we reunite in heaven.....
I am dealing with the same thing here too guy's'. My girl(mini foxy) KYA is getting to the point that she is fainting from the strain, I don't know what to do... She has been withme for 14 years and the same as you guys she is my all. I have been made to feel by others that i would be doing the wrong thing putting her down? I'm lost
16925379 tn?1452437921
Even thought I'm crying my eyes out as I have a near 15 yr old beagle mix that has been dealing with CHF for the last year.  Jaeger is such a good dog and I know the time is getting close.  I also had to put down my first pup at the age of 14 in 2012.  
Keep me in your thoughts please.  I believe I know the right time.  Just so depressing.
Avatar universal
As I sit and cry I have my baby Addie, a rescue from a puppy mill, dying from CHF.  She is a maltese and has been with us just over 7 years.  The last couple of nights have been so hard.  Breathing so hard and her little heart beating so fast.  I keep praying she will peacefully pass away in her sleep.  Fortunately our vet is a close personally friend.  We are going to see him this afternoon.  If he feels it is time, I am hoping he will drop by our house and let our Addie pass at home.  
Avatar universal
My beloved 11 y/o Papillon Furbaby, Fargo, was diagnosed 2 days ago with end stage CHF and enlarged heart after suddenly having trouble breathing, extreme weakness, and coughing up bloody sputum. I didn't think he was going to make it thru the first night. We were at the vet's office when they opened. My precious, happy boy just lays on his blanket breathing way too fast and very labored. He is on the usual meds including Hydrocodone. As I count his respirations, I am knowing that his time is getting near. I'm so devastated and angry at life that unless things change I will have to help him pass over the Rainbow Bridge with my vet soon. Why so sudden? Why such a cruel disease? I love him enough to be there when that time comes and let the last thing he sees be my eyes and the last thing he hears is my voice telling him how much I love him. I can't let him suffer. I love him too much.
Avatar universal
My precious Beatle, Reba, who is 10, is suffering with CHF.  I give her 3 meds, but none of them relieve the coughing.   Fortunately, she still eats good.   It hurts my heart that the coughing bothers her so much.   It is such a helpless feeling, not to b able to help her.   I know our time together is limited.   I sympathize with all of you who have had to deal with this horrible disease.
Avatar universal
The love of my life dog, 11 y/o Maltese, Bexley had CHF and died 3 weeks ago.  He was eating/drinking fine, walking around, potty normal, up to his silly antics, his body looked well, but he was panting.  I was grooming him in my arms, one hour away from our scheduled Vet appt.   I felt his heart stop and he went limp.  He died instantly.  The Vet said that sudden death is rare, but is best for the dog, yet hard on the owner.  Usually the health deteriorates more.  It is such a shock and there are no goodbyes.  I try to tell myself that he at least left this life in my arms, and that he will not suffer more.  My hope is that he is in Heaven.  I just miss him so.
1 Comments
Just lost our 9 yr old Maltese/Lhasa Apso mix to CHF very suddenly this week. Diagnosed with a slight heart murmur a year ago, but no recommended treatment and no issues. Two to three weeks ago, he developed a cough, cold symptoms, breathing fast, panting, lethargic, and very thirsty. We didn't think much of it until it wasn't getting better and he stopped eating. I took him to the vet who was keeping him overnight for tests and he passed on less than an hour after I left. It was all so sudden I still can't believe it, but I am relieved he didn't suffer for a long time. Still missing his sweet face - CHF is cruel.
10821430 tn?1439584483
I am so very sorry,I can feel the pain in your words,the
horrible loss.
Bexley was blessed,while it is never easy to have a be-
loved companion leave us,he was safe,loved,secure and
was able to feel that in your arms as he crossed over and
left this world, for him that was amazing,in the comfort of
your arms,there was no better place for him when he left.
CHF is a tricky thing,I lost my little Yorkie last year and he
gave little warning he was going either,we all need and
hope for extra time to say everything we need to before
they leave,it's just never time for them to leave,we all
need to love them longer.
I am sure Bexley felt loved as he left this world,he is in
heaven and even though he is not there with you in a
visible way,he's never too far from you even now,as long
as he has that place in your heart,he is with you always,
you will see him again one day. He will be that little white
fluff sitting there at the bridge,tail wagging when it is time
for you to cross over.
Again, I am so very sorry about Bexley.
Jan
Avatar universal
This a great thread and I hope it continues on as it has gone on for years!  I care for animals in various end-of-life conditions.  I am currently helping a mom with her nearly 17 y/o chihuahua.  She has stopped most of her heart meds and has not returned to the drastic CHF symptoms (no-one knows why).  But she is getting more quiet and eating and drinking less and less.  Without critical symptoms, it is even harder to "take your dog in."  Maybe Aggie will die at home with her mom who says she is and always will be one of the greatest loves of her life.  Have any of your animals simply faded peacefully?  Do you all recommend more coercing with food or just letting things be?  I am also a vet tech and I know that sometimes when animals' blood sugar drops rapidly they can sometimes have seizures.  Someone had suggested applesauce and that could address that.   Anyone have any thoughts to share?  By the way, her vet says that she does not have to DO anything at this point unless she wants to or unless Aggie is struggling.  Many thanks and much gratitude.
Avatar universal
It is hard for some people who have children to relate to those who don't therefore, I truly understand a persons pain when having to put down their furry kids. I made the decision to put my Akita "Scooby" (of 11 years) down three years ago today, due to stomach cancer, I thought I was strong enough to handle it, I didn't want her in pain anymore, but every day I have that question in my heart if I did the right thing, I want another week, another hour, another min. With her and I feel like I played God in taking her life away, I haven't had one day since without thinking about her, however someone told me dogs live a shorter life because they learn how to love much faster than we do, and that there souls were here to teach us how to love unconditionally and forgive without regret and that If we couldn't learn how to do this in their short lives then we were not willing to open our hearts at all.
For some reason hearing this made me look at all the lessons Scooby taught me and that I did not play God, I was the person she taught me to be, instead of selfishly keeping her here in pain, I loved her enough to let her go in peace. I know I will still cry and I will always miss her, but eventually i will smile because I was truly taught unconditional love by the best - one of the most beautiful creatures on earth - a dog - my Scooby.
Today I am making that painful decision again, I am having to put my 12 year old chihuahua "Peanut" down who has been fighting CHF for four months, oh God it hurts so bad I don't know who is going to go first, I can't breath, my heart is racing, my chest is tight and I feel no peace what so ever, the worst part is I have his daughter who is 4 and who also has a heart murmur but does not show signs yet. I am trying my hardest to remember what I wrote about my Scooby but for some reason it will not sink in. Everyone tells me to keep rescuing furry kids but I don't know if I can take their short little lives ending so quick. My heart goes to each and everyone who has to go through this.
2 Comments
Jessie is a sweet beagle mix. My husband found her in a garbage bag, tied up and this person no monster thrown her off by a train track. He stopped because he seen the bag moved and thank God he did. She has been with us through two hurricanes and losing our house. Such a strong shoulder she provided for me for ten years and now its my turn to be there for her. She has CHF and Im trying to be strong but it gets to me. I have to leave the room so I dont upset her more. Leave, thats something she would never do so I will have to make that decision for her to go and thats just killing me. I love Jessie so much.
Jessie is a sweet beagle mix. My husband found her in a garbage bag, tied up and this person no monster thrown her off by a train track. He stopped because he seen the bag moved and thank God he did. She has been with us through two hurricanes and losing our house. Such a strong shoulder she provided for me for ten years and now its my turn to be there for her. She has CHF and Im trying to be strong but it gets to me and I have to leave the room so I dont upset her more. Leave, thats something she would never do so I will have to make that decision for her to go and thats just killing me.
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