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Is a dry, wheezing cough in 15-year-old shih tzu sign of heart disease?

I have a 15-year-old Shih Tzu who suffered a stroke about 2 years ago, but has since completely recovered. He has recently started experiencing a wheezing type cough that acts up more at night. I have read that it may be heart disease and since he has a had a stroke that is very possible. But he still seems happy because he still has a  healthy appetite and drinks water well and regularly. I am reluctant to take him to the vet because of the cost and because I do not trust vets. In my experience they care more about finding ways to overcharge and mislead than actually helping find a practical, and inexpensive solution for loving pet owners. When he had his stroke I was made to spend thousands on unnessary testing for problems that had no relation to his symptoms and now am very jaded, especially because I have had many similar experiences with vets and find them no more reliable than used car salesman. If anyone has any information about my situation or even a recommendation for a trustworthy, caring vet in the Las Vegas, Nevada area, I would be greatly appreciative. I really want to know if he is suffering and if dogs his age with hearth disease can be treated.
2 Responses
462827 tn?1333172552
Reasons for Coughing:

OK, For starters, you need to rule out Heart Problems....The xray will not only show the heart, but also the lungs...This is important....
With Heart Disease, the weak heart cannot pump as well...Fluid builds into the lungs causing the cough..The cough is usually MOIST like they're choking on congestion...Actually, they are...The cough is worse in the mornings & during periods of running, playing & excitement....Fluid will show in an x ray of the lungs.....This would normally be for Senior Dogs......

Heart Disease is NOT a death sentence.....It's rather common in dogs!  Dogs can live many ,many years on medications just like humans can.....Meds. to improve function of the heart & also lasix to clear fluid from the lungs......An EKG or ECG can detect what part of the heart is having a problem.....They usually run around $100.....Some Vets will suggest this test, some will not...They will just go ahead and treat...

Next- Kennel Cough- This is a virus and antibiotics will do nothing.....Cough syrup is very necessary to help this run it's course.....Lasts a few weeks & the cough is excessive!!!!

Collapsing Trachea- Common in small breeds- This cough is more like choke-gasp, choke/gasp....It sounds like a goose honking....Meaning like when your sucking through a straw & it collapses. Like it kinda sticks then opens, etc. It is actually doing just that.....The trachea collapses then opens back up...This ailment is treated by weight control & Medications for lung disease....Cough meds, bronchial dilaters, Asthma meds., steroids when necessary, etc.

Respiratory Diseases cause coughing....Asthma & Bronchitis are treated with the same meds as Trachea Collapse. This is more of a dry cough with wheezing at times or both....With this, sometimes the Heart shows enlargement,but it is not a Heart Problem! It's from lack of oxygen through the respiratory system.....Steroids are useful as needed for allergy season that can be a trigger.....Dust mites in the house affect this a lot (Especially in the winter when the heat is on and the house is closed up tight).......It seems they breath better outside.....Something else: Dust Mites in DRY dog food alone can trigger this.....This disease can be controlled for years once you know what to do.....

There's a common cough called A "Reverse Sneeze"...You can google it to know what it sounds like.....I can't describe it....It kinda sounds like all the above, dammit!!!  ;)  Although it sounds awful, it's really harmless.....Lots of dogs do it their whole life...

Then of course, Heart worm Disease will cause a cough....Also will show an enlarged heart....Will be seen on an x ray....Can be ruled out with a blood test...

Oops.....I just thought of another one...Post Nasal Drip will cause a cough...As the fluid trickles down the back of the throat....It tickles....Thus the cough!  The throat & tonsils will be red and irritated if this is what your dealing with....Can be worse during periods of excitement, also.....This is usually allergy related or can be linked to Stress...I know that sounds impossible, but it can happen......Take care............Karla
612551 tn?1450025775
Wow, another best answer in my book !

Sounds to me like the little Shih will be around to love a few more years.

The only experience I have is with a large Golden Retriever that suffered a stroke and lost the use of his rear legs for a few weeks.  The vet said dogs ofter just recover on their own - he never got his full strength back but he did get back on his feet. He was 11 yo at the time, old for a Golden.

Dogs are survivors, good luck.
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