Lv 7
. asked in PetsDogs · 10 years ago

Rescue dog has Congestive Heart Failure. How far would you go?

After losing our last dog to liver disease last year, we found at the SPCA. She smelled bad, was severely underweight, had ear & eye infections and bad teeth. She needed us, so we adopted her.

"Gertie" had a dental with many extractions, head rads & rhinoscopy to determine why her nose always was congested, raw and oozing green mucous. She had a full health exam, including bloodwork for heartworm (negative). She was outwardly healthy when she had her dental, scoping and head x-rays a few months ago. But she's always had a cough -- which the doctors & I dismissed to either kennel cough due to the vaccine, or trachael irritation due to being intubated for her procedure.

This week, she slowed down on eating. After an exam where the vet heard an irregular heartbeat, he gave her an EKG, which determined her heart was 'dropping' half the beats. Congestive heart failure. This was *not* present a few months ago when she had her dental and other procedures.. she was monitored by EKG then.

My question to you is, given that this is a progressive disease, how far would you go to extend her life? Would you install a pacemaker? I'd have to use Care Credit for 6 months or more to pay for it if I do... and without the pacemaker, she may have died by then.

Online research refers to medications, but honestly, how effective are they?

Isn't the prognosis dismal for CHF in dogs? Less than a year?

What would you do and what steps would you take to extend her life?


DEbunker: Aren't you charming.

11 Answers

  • 10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Congestive heart failure is a condition of the left atrium and ventricle, causing a buildup of fluid in the lungs, hence the cough and occasional wheezing on exertion. The severity can be assessed by a chest xray and an echocardiogram. I don't see how a pacemaker can help the problem. A pacemaker is used to regulate the blood pressure, but can not make a weakened heart any stronger and could possibly put more stress on an already weakened ventricle.......JMO, of course.

    Normally congestive heart failure is treated by the use of drugs; such as diuretics to get rid of fluid, vasodilators to expand the blood vessels getting more Oxygen to the muscles, and digoxin to improve the performance of the heart muscle. Hydralazine is sometimes added when other medications have failed or when heart failure is acute and very severe in nature.

    I had a sheltie that lived 8 years after the initial diagnosis, keeping her going with the drug regime mentioned above. She died in her sleep at 14.

    Source(s): Breeder UCDavis Medical reference
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  • 4 years ago


    Source(s): Destroy Diabetes Starting Today - http://DiabetesCure.raiwi.com/?sEDA
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  • 3 years ago

    Congestive Heart Failure Prognosis Dogs

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  • 10 years ago

    I think people have given you good quality replies. All I will add is that every dog is different and some can handle debilitating conditions for longer than others.

    If it were my dog I'd keep Euthanasia as PlanB, not bother with the Pacemaker as I really can't see how that will 'decongest' the heart unless the disease is a complicated Arrythmymia. Ask your vet to explain how the pacemaker would help in this case (would it cause more blood to flow and get filtered by the kidneys preventing fluid build ups in unwanted places?) and get them to offer a reasonable prognosis.

    I've always reckoned that 1 human year is equal to 7 dog years in old age and so is worth aiming for. 6 months wouldn't really be enough as the deterioration would spoil most of it.

    Your dog, your choice, and nobody will know your dog better than you can. I hope it works out that your dog gets plenty of quality life ahead of her.

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  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    Sadly I had my 8 year old Boxer put down on the 6th Jan this year as he had Congestive Heart Failure, I couldn't take him on a walk as he wouldn't make it to the end of the road before collapsing.. The vet put him on daily medication for about 3 months which had very little effect, some days it worked and you wouldn't think he was ill at all, other days the tablet did nothing.. Whatever you chose to do the vet should always advise you on what they think is best. When I made my decision, the vet agreed as he would have a poor quality of life if I kept him on the medication.

    Also my vet told me that if I kept him on the medication then I could not forget even one tablet as they would be the only thing keeping his heart going at an acceptable standard., I decided that I didn't want the only reason for my dog to still be here to be because of some tablets that only sometimes helped.

    I hope this has helped a little and I'm sorry you have to go through this.

    Source(s): Personal experience and the hardest decision I have ever had to make.
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  • anne b
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    Our 15 year old Minpin has just been diagnosed with this condition. When we we brought him into the vet we were afraid that we would have to put him down right then and there, and the vet was not too hopeful that he would survive, anyway. The murmur in his heart was so loud she could hear it without the benefit of a stethoscope!

    He has been on heart meds for three weeks now, and he acts like a spring chicken. Granted, his heart will continue to fail and get worse, but he is very comfortable on his meds, and we now have some time to get ready to say goodbye. Our vet thinks this is just short of a miracle for him.

    A friend of mine has a Minpin who has had this condition for the entire time I have known her. This dog is still going strong on her meds as well. For years.

    I guess the moral is don't quit yet. The heart meds are relatively cheap, thank heaven!

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  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    It depends on what the vet had said now if the dog had a chance of 4 or 5 years extra life with the treatment i would go ahead if you were only prolonging this by 6 months to a year then i would look at medications to keep my dog comfortable and still be guided by the vets but would not have a pace maker fitted if the outcome was less that a year its to invasive for a dog your just keeping them alive for a short time this is no different to humans when they have cancer and are given 6 months to live 9 months if they have treatment ,look at your dogs quality of life how long will the dog live for with a pace maker ?what is the expected outcome for this dog?

    I wish you and your dog well

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  • 10 years ago

    I had a Pom dumped at my grooming salon because the owners did not want to deal with him any more. Literally they handed me their dog I told them when he would be done, five hours after he was done and ten calls later I got, "we just cannot do this any more". He had a constant cough, was getting old, severe skin problems, was under weight and smelled terribly and had ear and eye infections present.

    He was 14 at the time. I put him on a raw and dry kibble food that is grain free. I gave him chicken necks to help clean his teeth. The Vet did a series of steroids and antibiotics to clear up the eyes and ears. We did an ultrasound as well as X-Rays and found he had a severe heart murmur, grade 5. So another round of blood work was ordered up. We then put him on two heart medications. He was diagnosed with CHF. The medications cost me around $20 for a three month supply. We did an office examine every three months too. The thought of a pacemaker was discussed but I felt it was just too much, honestly I did not see this dog doing very well over the next year. Within six weeks of him coming into my life I had spent over $2500 in tests and medications. His infections were clearing up. He was getting his coat back in. He was not chewing and scratching himself constantly either. He no longer smelled and not because I was bathing him all the time. The grain free food was doing its job. His teeth were clean. The problems he was having getting around on his hind legs cleared up too. He now could run and play. Did not get winded walking two steps. The heat still bothered him, but he was given plenty of A/C in the summer. The Glucosamine supplements were also helping. And his coughing stopped. We found the right doses of medications finally to ease his symptoms. A year later he had to have ten teeth removed. They were rotten before he started on raw and grain free food. After that he had no complications with teeth. I never had to have them cleaned again since he was chewing raw chicken necks(cooked chicken bones are dangerous, raw ones are not).

    He lived until he was 20. During those 6 years he was more active, more alert and puppy like...and a champion for rescue dogs. I know 6 years does not seem like much to some people, but to him it was 6 more years than he would have had. I can honestly say that he enriched our family as well as other peoples lives. So he was worth every penny I spent on him. He always wanted to please us. People who saw him could not believe his age. He would sit up, roll over as well as many other behaviors to make people laugh. And he lived for laughs and love.

    So no the prognosis of CFH is not a dismal one year...you could extend your dog's life for several more years. I say could only because I am not a Vet with years of experience. I will also add that any amount of time with a good loving family is better than being left behind, forgotten or worse euthanized. Gertie, deserves a second chance...and with that second chance all the necessary medications and Vet visits. I am by no means a rich person with thousands of dollars to spend. And like you I asked myself is this all really worth it? Every time I asked that I was given another reason to keep going forward. The off hand comment, "can't take it with you" played a great deal of reassurance. For 6 years of my life I had a best friend that loved my family. I do not regret spending money on him. He was certainly worth it.

    I empathize with you and your family...I wish all of you the best.

    • 6 years agoReport

      As the Billionaire Boys Club Mantra says- Wealth is of the heart and mind, not the pocket.

      I care about people a great deal, and have volunteered well over 5,000 hours to helping others-but I think our dog has brought more joy/love than many people- Thank you for inspiring my choice w/her.

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  • Debby
    Lv 4
    10 years ago

    My dog lived less than a year with CHF.

    My sisters Akita lived three years but they kept having the fluid drawn from his lings and ehart every month. They finally had him put down.

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  • Lelee
    Lv 6
    10 years ago

    You have given her a good home and there are many healthy dogs that need your home. I had Mia 17 and a half years and when she decided to not eat I sat and held her until she passed it was about fifty hours. Her little heart pounded like it would jump through her little chest then it slowed and softened to a whisper. I will never be able to replace her but I have two rescues that keep me company and snuggle with me and make me laugh. You will have to do what feels right to you. Bless you I always go to a rescue, they cost a bit more to start but they will know what the problems are The rescues usually go to the shelters and clean up the dogs that are the size they can house and foster. "Trevor" is sleeping in his little heated bed. "Gidget" is under my covers on my lap having a wee nap. When I turn off the light to go to sleep she will do to sleep in her little heated pink slipper bed. She either thinks I toss and turn too much or my snoring.

    Source(s): Little old lady Chihuahua lover me
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