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Ask the Vet About Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs and Cats

Congestive Heart Failure
Symptoms & Diagnosis
Treatment
Ask the Vet
Ask the Vet About Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs & Cats
MichaelDym, V.M.D.
Michael Dym, V.M.D.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

As a practicing veterinarian, Dr. Dym has over 19 years of experience and dedication to enhancing the overall health and well-being of pets. His commitment and passion for pet health continuously drives him to learn more about the art and science of homeopathy through ongoing training and education.

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Showing 16 - 30 of 115
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Showing 16 - 30 of 115
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Date: Sep 20, 2019
Category: Congestive Heart Failure
Pet Type: Dog
Topic: Coughing

Question: My dog is a Yorky-Pom, she is in the stage 4 CHF, she is currently taking him a Pimobendan , Lasix, and Enacard, and hydrocodone for coughing. My question is the hydrocodone does not seem to relieve much coughing is there an over-the-counter cough suppressant I can give her in addition to the hydrocodone. My vet has not gotten back to me

Answer:They will probably want to recheck her to see if the coughing is from fluid build up in her lungs. If it is, they will need to increase her Lasix dosage and/or add another diuretic instead of a cough suppressant.

Date: Sep 14, 2019
Category: Congestive Heart Failure
Pet Type: Dog
Topic: absolute cheapest med for chf

Question:My 13 yr old miniature dachshund has cong. heart failure. but we only have 40$ maybe 50$ dollars to spend on meds.I don't know what to do. He needs 3 meds. vetmedin is most expensive that's the one that we really truly can't afford..please help..my dog is really scared and so am I ..

Answer:Like many things in life, of course, the most expensive one is the best, but there are many others and it entirely depends on his case as to which ones are most important for him - like if he is coughing because of fluid on his lungs, cheap ole Lasix (furosemide) will make him feel better, etc. so consult your veterinarian about which medications may be appropriate for him based on his symptoms and x-rays and within your budget.

Date: Sep 10, 2019
Category: Congestive Heart Failure
Pet Type: Dog
Topic: Water retention, bones showing

Question:My dog has been recently diagnosed with CHF and put on 2 water pills. She is still retaining fluid and her belly is full. But my consern is that she is losing some weight, and her back bone, ribs, and tailbone are visible like shes malnourished. What can i give her to help with this?

Answer:We call this "cardiac cachexia" and it is secondary to her heart having to try too hard 24 hours a day. Gaining weight revolves around getting a handle on her heart failure. If she is only on "2 water pills" and those are not even helping, she needs a recheck by your veterinarian and more, different additional medication and/or a referral to a veterinary cardiologist in your area.

Date: Aug 23, 2019
Category: Congestive Heart Failure
Pet Type: Dog
Topic: Heart damage in dog?

Question:Could my dog have heart damage? I have an 11 year old, 80lb acd/hound mix, Memphis. He¿s has arthritis for a year or so, is on carprofen, gabapentin, and movoflex supplements. Over the past 6 months or so he started panting heavily at times for no discernible reason and then developed a harsh cough. The coughing was less than once a day, usually during or after exercise. My regular vet put him on Enalapril 10mg bid. The coughing stopped and the panting was greatly reduced, to what I would consider normal for an older dog. We¿ve been walking daily, for 6 months (he¿s lost 5 pounds but needs to lose another 5 the vet says) anywhere from 1/2 mile to 1.5 miles, depending on the day and how he appears to feel. Until last weekend I would say he tolerated those walks well, but now I¿m wondering if I¿ve been overexerting him. Last weekend we took a 1.2 mile walk, he seemed less enthusiastic than normal (I assumed it was the humidity), so we didn¿t go up any hills or tackle any trails. About 5 minutes after we got home he started whining, pacing, retching unproductively and seemed in a great deal of pain. His eyes were glassy and he started to destroy and eat his bed. I took him to my regular vet, on the way he passed a lot of gas and seemed better. My vet said it was overexertion and prescribed Lasix. By the next day he was lethargic and would only get up to eat or go to the bathroom. I took him to my secondary vet, who took xrays and drew blood. She said she thought his heart looked ok, but some of the blood vessels looked larger around the heart and lungs, that he had a small amount of fluid around his lungs, recommended continuing Enalapril but discontinue Lasix. She thought the episode we had was related to a high protein food we¿ve been adding to his regular food, and walking too close to breakfast, which made him gassy and caused the pain. He¿s perky again after discontinuing Lasix, but since then his cough has returned during our walks. We¿ve been going on much shorter ones, 1/4 to 1/2 mile, but he coughs once or twice every time. In the 6 weeks he¿s been on Enalapril this is the first time he¿s started coughing. He still enjoys his walks and seems fine otherwise. Could he have suffered heart damage from this walk last weekend? Why would his cough suddenly return after being absent? What should I be doing for him? I¿m sorry for the long post, I wasn¿t sure what was important or not to include. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Answer:All of these questions are good ones, but they are ones your veterinarian will need to answer because I would really need to see his blood work and x-rays to make recommendations. It sounds like he may need to be on some kind of a diuretic if his cough is worsening - maybe a lower dosage of lasix or spironolactone - I can't figure out why they took him off of it when he still had visible fluid on the x-ray - maybe something in his bloodwork. (I don't think you caused any kind of damage from walking him though - this is probably just normal progression of his heart disease.)

Date: Jul 27, 2019
Category: Congestive Heart Failure
Pet Type: Dog
Topic: Need to buy pills

Question:I went to vets hospital for my English bull dog. She has chf. What pills can I give her now and ASAP. List please

Answer:There are many options primarily based on your dog's severity of disease and clinical signs - work with your veterinarian, who has all of this information to choose the best medications for your individual dog. Here is a link to our article about treating congestive heart failure: https://www.1800petmeds.com/education/congestive-heart-failure-treatment-dog-cat-32.htm

Date: Jul 21, 2019
Category: Congestive Heart Failure
Pet Type: Cat
Topic: looking for clarity on how my cat died

Question:Hi there, Apologies in advance for the length of this question, but I want to be as thorough and specific as I can be. I have some questions about my beloved cat Lucy, who passed away a month ago (June 2019) at the age of 14. She was a beautiful muted tortie. I want to know if I could have done more to prevent her death or to prolong her quality of life. I want to know if, in your professional opinion, you think she suffered a great deal in the end, and if I could have done more to prevent it? Here are the circumstances: In 2015 she had a cancerous tumour removed from her lung and was given 1-2 years prognosis. After that she received vet checkups every 6 months. In 2017 she was diagnosed with a hyperthyroid and we treated that effectively with methimazole. At the same time, she was diagnosed with early stage chronic kidney disease and put on a kidney-friendly diet. A veterinary checkup in October 2018 turned up nothing unusual except a couple ¿funny cells¿ in her urine but not enough samples to test reliably ¿ and when I asked them to take more samples, they couldn¿t find more of the funny cells. Given that her weight was going back up now that her thyroid was under control, the vet said cancer was unlikely an issue (her x-rays were clear) and ¿See you in six months.¿ Beginning in January 2019 I noticed she was getting a little more frail here and there, but nothing startling. I attributed it to aging. She was due for a semi-annual checkup (full blood and urine plus x-ray) in May, but I delayed until June because I had a lot of travel and work. In June I began to notice she was eating slightly less with each week, so I booked a vet appointment. Bloodwork revealed that Lucy¿s thyroid was acting up and so we adjusted the methimazole. Her kidneys weren¿t any worse. She had lost weight. She was anemic because of the hyperthyroid and would need shots for that. The vet also prescribed meds to curb nausea and boost her appetite. She also had fluid delivered subcutaneously. Nothing her hyperthyroid couldn¿t explain. I was to come back in half a week for the shot to treat the anemia, but after returning from the vet, Lucy stopped eating anything at all. I tried fish, baby foot, anything to entice her. She retreated to her bed and spent most of her time staring off into space. She¿d lick my hand if I petted her but her focus was turned inward. I couldn¿t get her to take the medications that would supposedly help her to eat no matter how I tried. Even when she took them, they had no impact on her appetite. This lasted two days before I brought her back in to the vet and requested an x-ray. Fluid due to inflammation in the abdomen and chest, but no signs of infection, so ¿ given her history ¿ very possibly tumours in both places. The vet scheduled an ultrasound and tissue sample for the very next day to confirm. The next day I brought Lucy in for the ultrasound. She was weak and cranky. I was asked to hold her to comfort her during the scan. When the abdominal scan was complete we were to move Lucy to a different kind of pillow for the chest exam. While moving her, she begin to put up a struggle ¿ at which point the ultrastenographer became very concerned because Lucy¿s pupils were huge and she was panting. I handed her to the vet tech and they took her into the back to administer oxygen. The ultrastenographer told me then that she wasn¿t allowed to tell me her interpretation of the belly scan, because it would have to go to a specialist. However, she did recommend we delay the chest exam until after I received the tummy scan results. I was able to read between the lines and infer that whatever she had seen in those scans would be enough to inform my next decisions (probably not good). I was taken into the back where Lucy was sprawled, panting with her tongue out, growling, and staring as if not seeing. I comforted her by petting her and soothing her. She wasn¿t responding. One of the vets was concerned ¿she was in the process of passing away¿ ¿ at which point my regular vet entered and said the ultrastenographer had confirmed the presence of tumours throughout Lucy¿s abdomen. The vet then asked if I would like to have Lucy resuscitated. I asked, ¿Would doing so open up the possibility of treatment and extending her life or quality of life?¿ And the vet said ¿Given what we¿re seeing, that¿s very unlikely. Would you like us to give her humane euthanasia?¿ Looking at my baby girl like that, I didn¿t think I had any other choice. I went with my Lucy into a room for the euthanasia procedure, and cuddled her while she stared and panted, and finally died. The whole visit from arrival to goodbye was less than half an hour. It¿s been over a month since I lost her, and apart from missing her terribly, I¿m haunted by the feeling that I failed her in the end. What could I have done to prevent this? Is there any way of knowing what precipitated the attack she suffered just before the end? Was she in a great deal of pain in the week leading up to her death, and especially during the attack, and should I have recognized that and done more? The vet says there¿s no way of knowing what the attack was ¿ she likely wasn¿t in pain ¿ and that I couldn¿t have done more. I¿m not sure I believe her, and I value honesty at this point more than feeling better.

Answer:I honestly think that you did everything right - everything that you could for her. Cancer is very sneaky and is hard to diagnosis without running a million tests that honestly seemed unnecessary when she started losing weight and then gained a little back when you treated her hyperthyroidism. Also cats don't show us signs of illness like other species - they are often a lot closer to death than we know and doing something out of their routine, like a benign, virtually painless, ultrasound can send them over the edge. I absolutely think you made the right decision to euthanize her that day. She would've passed away on her within minutes or hours any way and/or if she made some sort of miraculous recovery, she would've had to go through it all over again in a couple days, weeks at the most, factoring in everything she had going on. Please don't beat yourself up - you sound like a great parent - she was lucky to have you!

Date: Jul 15, 2019
Category: Congestive Heart Failure
Pet Type: Dog
Topic: putting your dog to sleep?

Question:I have a 14yr old chihuahua with chf. She is eating, drinking & going to bathroom on her own. But she just lays down all day. She will bark when someone knocks on the door & goes to greet them. She lays on the floor all day, only getting up to eat or go potty. Her breathing is not labored. My vet says it will get worse. Is it time to stop her misery?

Answer:I would need to examine her, know what medications she is on, and look at her radiographs (x-rays) to really advise you about that. There are MANY medications that keep our heart failure patients feeling good for a long time sometimes - here is a link to some of the many treatments: https://www.1800petmeds.com/education/congestive-heart-failure-treatment-dog-cat-32.htm

Date: Jun 19, 2019
Category: Congestive Heart Failure
Pet Type: Dog
Topic: abdominal drain

Question:This is a follow up as I am trying to decide whether to continue to use this vet for my other dog. I wrote you that my dog with advanced CHF died of an infection from an Abdominal drain. You wrote back that infection is always a possibility anytime you inject a dog for any reason. I knew of this risk when I agreed to the procedure, but by infection I had something fairly localized and treatable in mind. This was a massive and very aggressive infection that went from his ujpper chest area down to and including his penis. This infection appeared within a day or so and completely consumed the dog. Is this the kind of infection risk that exists anytime you inject a dog. Thanks, Steven

Answer:Yes, it is possible but not very probable and even less probable that it will be that severe. Older dogs that are in congestive heart failure and/or might have other problems have generally poor immune systems that make infections like this possible.

Date: Jun 18, 2019
Category: Congestive Heart Failure
Pet Type: Dog
Topic: Abdominal Tap

Question:Is an abdominal tap to remove excess fluid caused by congestive heart failure considered to be a dangerous procedure. What are some of the risks? Can the procedure be life threatening? Thanks, Steven

Answer:Is an abdominal tap to remove excess fluid caused by congestive heart failure considered to be a dangerous procedure? No - the benefits outweigh the risks. What are some of the risks? Infection, puncturing an organ, lacerating a blood vessel, etc. Can the procedure be life threatening? Yes, but this is unlikely.

Date: Jun 17, 2019
Category: Congestive Heart Failure
Pet Type: Dog
Topic: abdominal drain

Question:I made the mistake of allowing an abdominal drain on my 14 year old dog with right side CHFand Ascites. I heard that the procedure was fairly safe and that some people are even doing it at home. I'm in a state of shock. The outcome was severe infection of the abdomen region. Dog collapsed completely within a day. I had to get a muzzle for him as my right arm is covered in dog bites--the pain was so severe for him. The vet said he had Cellulitis and that this and possibly other infections were inside the abdomen and that the dog would have to be cut open to treat it. I had to put him down. Have you ever head of abdominal drain having this kind of risk. I expected my dog, Blackie, to die of CHF in the near future, but from an abdominal drain. The pain was so severe and the death so quick is it also possible that Blackie had contracted Peritonitis. He had 2 of its symptoms-- high thirst and low urine output. Blackie was PetMeds patients as I obtained some of his CHF meds from you. Thanks, Steven

Answer:Yes, infection is a possible side effect any time you inject a needle into them - even routine vaccines, but it is rare so the benefits outweigh the possibility that it may happen, so you did the right thing. I'm sorry the infection occurred, especially if it caused him pain near the end, but you are right, the end from CHF is imminent when you have to start performing this procedure. I'm sorry for your loss, I can tell you loved him.

Date: Jun 16, 2019
Category: Congestive Heart Failure
Pet Type: Dog
Topic: walking

Question:My dog with late stage congestive heart failure has a great deal of difficulty walking. He loses balance and falls down all the time. Vet says it is part of heart failure, but should we look for other causes.

Answer:I would really need to examine him to give you any kind of useful information. Other causes should certainly be looked into but it could be due to either.

Date: Jun 3, 2019
Category: Congestive Heart Failure
Pet Type: Dog
Topic: enalapril dosage

Question:Please advise as to what a normal enalapril dosage schedule is for a 16lb dog...Our dog has had 3 fainting issues since being put on this drug 3 weeks ago. Thank You!

Answer:Usual dosage is ~0.25mg per pound of pet's body weight once daily or as directed by veterinarian based on many things (severity of disease, blood work, etc). Fainting is not a usual side effect of the medication but it definitely is a sign of heart failure that Enalapril is used to treat so see your veterinarian for further evaluation to see what other drugs may be needed.

Date: May 21, 2019
Category: Congestive Heart Failure
Pet Type: Dog
Topic: Benazapril

Question:I was getting my pet¿s Benazapril from our local pharmacy. 5 mg that was prescribed to take half 2 times a day. I saw that 800 Pet Meds had Benazapril. Since I was already getting her other meds from you, I ordered this for her too. I received the Benazapril and the pills look different. The one from the pharmacy was about the size of an aspirin, which we would cut in half. The pills I got from you are the size of the furosamide.. tiny. It says it¿s 5 mg too. I¿m not sure if they are the same pill. Please advise

Answer:This is the Ask the Vet section - you will need to call the 1-800 (Petmeds) number and speak to the pharmacist. (Different manufacturers' pills can look very different and have the same active ingredient.)

Date: May 14, 2019
Category: Congestive Heart Failure
Pet Type: Dog
Topic: Rapid breathing & restlessness

Question:My shihtzu is 11 years old. She has seizures & CHF. Her medications are: phenobarbital, furosemide, vetmedin, and enalapril. I have noticed her breathing seems more rapid than normal & she is alittle restless. Could this be side effects from the pheno?

Answer:Possibly but it can also mean many other things, like that her CHF is worsening and her heart meds need adjusting, so see your veterinarian for a recheck if it continues or worsens.

Date: Apr 28, 2019
Category: Congestive Heart Failure
Pet Type: Dog
Topic: Medication dosage

Question:Hello, I am dog sitting a 14lb daschund who is 10 years old and has congestive heart failure. I was instructed to give one 1.25mg tablet two times a day. The bottle says each tablet is 1.25mg and given twice daily. My question is the pill looks like it breaks in half very easily, am I suppose to break 1 tablet in half. I Read that Vetmedin pills are made so that they spilt in half easily for better dosage tracking. Thank you for your help Fran

Answer:From everything you wrote, it sounds like they are 1.25mg tablets and the dog's dosage is written as 1.25mg twice a day, so it sounds like they do not need to be broken in half. That is an appropriate dosage for a 10 pound dog. Dosage is often adjusted based on many things (severity, side effects, blood work, etc) so call the veterinarian that prescribed it to be 100% sure - the phone number should be on the bottle or the box it came in.


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