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Avatar universal

I need advice about my dogs congestive heart failure.

My dog about 15 years old, and has e. She was diagnosed about a year ago. And the vet just put her on water pills. That's all she is on still. About every two months she goes through these coughing/hacking spells. Is this normal for dogs with CHF? We have tried EVERYTHING to help, but NOTHING works.
I just want to know if she is suffering or in pain! The vet I'm going to just doesn't seem to know what she is doing. Of course nether do I so I really shouldn't be talking. I really want to take her to a different vet for a 2nd opinion but worried about the cost. The hacking spells are becoming more often and lasting longer, and becoming harder and harder to keep her from coughing (with cough syrup etc). The one she is going through right now has lasted 2 weeks. The vet gave us antibiotics and a strong cough syrup. I also upped the water pills. Its not as bad, but not completely gone. She's just doped up 24/7 now. I just feel helpless.  I don't want to see her suffer, if she is. I just lost one of my other dogs a week ago, seeing her go though this is just killing me. IS SHE IN PAIN? When she goes through these spells does that mean she cant breath? cause I can hear it in her chest. like a weez. PLEASE help. I'm just at a loss of what to do anymore.
But, when she isn't going through these spells she is as happy as can be. Running around like a puppy.
64 Responses
Avatar universal
Sorry I ment, "My dog about 15 years old, and has congestive heart failure" I dont know why it just says "e"....
462827 tn?1333172552
Hello & welcome....
I'll get back with you on this....I have to be out of town, today.....Karla
974371 tn?1424656729
This is the 3 rd time I'm trying to post this.  
Sorry to hear about your girl but she has definitely lived into old age so you must take very good care of her.  Not much you can do for CHF but try to manage it with meds and diet.  Good that she is on the diuretic.  Did the Vet prescribe any heart med like Enalapril maybe? There are many heart meds depending on the problem.  She needs to be on a low sodium diet.  I believe there are low sodium dog foods out there for dogs with heart problems.  Giving Omega 3 may help some.  Is your Vet checking the potassium levels in the blood and the kidney function?  Those should be monitored, esp if the dog in on a diuretic.  I'm not sure why he has her on an antibiotic unless he is afraid of pneumonia?  Unfortunately, yes, the coughing will probably get worse as fluid continues to build up but, hopefully, you have some good time left with her. Is she in pain?  Probably not. Her biggest problem is going to be with the breathing.  You will know when/if she is uncomfortable.  She may restless, not want to lay on her side, loose her appetite, etc.
I'm going to put a link to a very good article about CHF in dogs and perhaps that will help you to understand what is going on, what can be tried and what to expect.  Please keep us posted and just give her lots of love and attention.  
974371 tn?1424656729
Sorry, forgot to add the link.

Avatar universal
The vet has not put her on any heart meds, or hasn't even talked about putting her on any. I'm not even sure if she as EVER done blood test on her, not that I've been told anyways. The only thing the vet as done was do an x-ray on her. The reason she was put on the antibiotics was because The vet said she (my dog) might just have a sore throat, and thats why she is coughing.  I mean, it really didn't make sense to me, but hey I'm not a vet! I don't understand why she didn't/hasn't put her on some kind of heart pill! I mean, I know the cough is from CHF, but it's like the vet doesn't. you know?
Some people have told me I need to put her down, I'm just confused. I just really don't want to do that if she still can have some what of a quality life. But maybe I'm just being selfish, and scared. I've had her since I was 4 years old, I'm about to be 20 now. I don't even know what its like NOT to have her with me.
Thanks for your advice on the dog food and stuff! I'll have to go get some!
I am going to be honest....you need a new vet. Period. If she has CHF  Diuretic alone won't cut it. She needs Vetmedin or Enalapril or both. My dog is on those as well as Lasix (the diuretic).
They should want to do an ECHO to find out more

This sounds like a not legitimate vet. Coughing spells are a very common sign of CHF, perhaps the most common.
Avatar universal
And thanks for that link!!!
462827 tn?1333172552
Wow...Great Link Margot!!!

Kelsie, How did your Vet diagnose CHF? What was the xray of and what did he/she find on the xray? Do you know? Was there fluid in her lungs? Was her Heart enlarged? COuld the Vet hear a heart murmur?  Something had to lead to this diagnoses....How do you know the cough is from CHF?

I've never heard of a dog with heart problems not put on a Heart medication along with Lasix (Fluid Pill)...

This doesn't sound to me like your dog is getting the needed care from your Vet.....I agree w/you.....Please, come back and let me know more.....Thanks, Karla
Avatar universal
The vet did an x ray of her chest. When she first did the xray she called me and told me it was a collapsed trachea, but she was sending the xray off for a second opinion. About two weeks later she called and said the second opinion thinks it CHF. Never told me why they thought that. But she thought it was weird cause every time she listens to her heart she doesn't hear a murmur. The first time I took her to the vet (3 week before the xray) she was shocked my dog was 15 after listening to her heart. I just assumed the cough was from CHF cause thats what they told me she had, and I read some coughing was symptom.

But, I'm calling the vet today and gonna get a appointment (hopefully for today). I'm going to talk to her about other meds she should/needs to be put on.
462827 tn?1333172552
Hi Kelsielu....So, the xrays didn't show an enlarged heart? Do you know if her lungs sound congested or not?

I'm sorry, but what your describing DOES NOT sound like CHF to me....I think you need a new Vet!!!

With CHF, the cough is usually after excitement, exercise, worse at night & early morning and pretty much consistant.....Since your dog has this off and on, This sounds more like Asthma/Bronchitis & the treatment is completely different.....Bronchial dialators, cough meds., Inhalers & limited Steroids are given during these attacks.....With Lung disease, an Enlarged Heart is possible because of lack of oxygen over a period of time.....

IMO, your Vet should have been able to read her own Xray for any of this, including a Collapsed Trachea....There was NO reason to send the xray out......I'm afraid for your dog if you continue to let this Vet QUESS at what is wrong.....

Please, let me know how the appointment goes if you make one.....Karla
Avatar universal
So I just called the vet, I have an appointment for Tuesday. She is going to do another xray.
I said, "She has been doing this for 2 weeks now, what you gave her isn't working. Don't you think its time to put her on some type of heart meds?!"
She said, "Before I put her on any heart meds, I want to do another xray I'll give you more cough syrup in the mean time"

After the appointment, and xray I will let ya know what she said/did. I am also looking for other vets around where I live. Its my mom who pays for most of the vet/meds cause I don't have that much money at the moment. So my mom just worried about cost and such.

Karla, Thank you for all your help, and advice! I mean it, thanks.
1660289 tn?1302560398
My Shih Tzu (many years ago) had the cough, and was eventually diagnosed with CHF, at age 13. I believe that cough is from too much fluid around the heart.
I cooked food for her and she did quite well. But at one point the vet thought she should be on a special food for her condition (to get proper nutrients etc). her cough came back within a week. I checked the sodium content on the bag and it was higher than many of the cheapie store brand dog foods.
My vet was upset, she actually contacted the sales rep.
I cooked my dog's food added omega fish oil and she did quite well (with heart med also) until we let her go at age 17....(vision/hearing loss were bad)
Good luck!
PS we did initially check for collapsed trachea and she had one episode of syncopy
Avatar universal
Can you tell me what you were feeding your dog?  I have a 9 year old black lab who was just diagnosed two weeks ago.  We have him on all the herat meds (enalapril, diltiazem, spironolactone, Vitamedin) as well as Lasix and Taurine and L-Carnitine Supplements.  He seems to be doing much better in terms of activity, etc but I am having a horrible time trying to get him to eat!  He won't eat the wet prescrition dog food that the vet recommended for digestion (Hills Prescrption Dier I/D) and won't touch the dry Early Cardiac Food (Royal Canin) either.  He was eating boiled hamburger and rice for a couple of days but now has gone off that as well.  I just want him to eat! I am starting to think that maybe CHF is affecting his sense of smell and he can't smell the food so won't eat it?  Any suggestions? He is so young and I don't want him to starve to death!  Please help!
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