Congestive Heart Failure... when is it 'enough'?
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Thread: Congestive Heart Failure... when is it 'enough'?

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    Junior Member Dustin07's Avatar
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    Congestive Heart Failure... when is it 'enough'?

    My Dalmatian has had a heart murmor her whole life. It did not become an issue for her until April of this year, and from then on it progressed horribly.

    The symptoms were all typical. Fluid backup in the lungs creating a difficult breathing environment, and her coughing like crazy. We put her on lasix and it helped at first.

    Then the fluid build up moved to the abs. We have had her drained twice now in the last month to 5 weeks.

    she is on 10mg of Enalapril once in the am and once in the pm.
    Lasix is 30mg in the night and 20mg in the morning.
    Vetmedin is 5mg in am, 5mg in the pm.

    these last couple days I have increased her lasix to 80-100mg/day giving her a 20mg tablet every few hours to help her body get caught up. within a week of the abdomen draining she was swollen and coughing again. I was told that 100mg was the safe limit for a dog of her size. I try to give her as little as I can, but Increase it when there seems to be a need. She's breathing better, but still swollen.

    we've kept tabs on her girth as well. She shrinks to around 25" after being drained, and swells to 27"+ inches. I have her back down to 26"-ish now with the extra lasix.

    What are the options? I can't get her drained once a week. That's too expensive and hard on her. But she is eating well and still have a very happy personality with a lot of tail wagging. Her ears are attentive, and she still smiles from time to time the way Dals do.

    I'm not ready to put her down, how can you when she still seems so happy? But at what point do I know its time with her? This is a difficult first time encounter for my wife and I.

    I forgot to mention... she only turns 9 next month. Her young age is one of the things that makes this so difficult for me. I'm not used to such a young dog having such a horrible condition. It's a bummer that such a rare personality would get dealt a bum heart.
    Last edited by Dustin07; 09-06-2008 at 02:10 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

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    Senior Member BarclaysMom's Avatar
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    Re: Congestive Heart Failure... when is it 'enough'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dustin07 View Post
    But she is eating well and still have a very happy personality with a lot of tail wagging. Her ears are attentive, and she still smiles from time to time the way Dals do.

    I'm not ready to put her down, how can you when she still seems so happy? But at what point do I know its time with her? This is a difficult first time encounter for my wife and I.
    So sorry to hear about your dal. Our dal Chester is similar, in that he has many conditions that are creeping up on him and we know the time is getting near, but he insists on being his old happy self, wagging and giving us those 'puppy ears' faces just like always. He also has a heart murmur, lung problems, and arthritis that has left one of his legs useless and atrophied, and the arthritis in his spine that caused the damage to his leg has also caused him to not be able to control his bowels. We also find it hard to think about putting him down when he seems so doggon happy about everything. He can barely walk and falls over when he tries, and he's just like 'oh, don't get up, I've got it, I'm fine..' while he flops around trying to get back on his feet. It's pitiful, but is it time to put a stop to it? I don't know how you decide. I guess you just have to go with your gut, and do what you feel is right for her.

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    Junior Member Dustin07's Avatar
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    Re: Congestive Heart Failure... when is it 'enough'?

    Quote Originally Posted by BarclaysMom View Post
    So sorry to hear about your dal. Our dal Chester is similar, in that he has many conditions that are creeping up on him and we know the time is getting near, but he insists on being his old happy self, wagging and giving us those 'puppy ears' faces just like always. He also has a heart murmur, lung problems, and arthritis that has left one of his legs useless and atrophied, and the arthritis in his spine that caused the damage to his leg has also caused him to not be able to control his bowels. We also find it hard to think about putting him down when he seems so doggon happy about everything. He can barely walk and falls over when he tries, and he's just like 'oh, don't get up, I've got it, I'm fine..' while he flops around trying to get back on his feet. It's pitiful, but is it time to put a stop to it? I don't know how you decide. I guess you just have to go with your gut, and do what you feel is right for her.
    How old is Chester?

    By the description, I know that people would criticize the decision, but I could not put him down either. Just because the animal is facing the struggles of old age, to me, does not warrant early death. He sounds like while he is in very rough shape, his spirits are still high. There are people like that, bed ridden and smiling till the end. I will have to watch Lilly and when the struggles of life finally outweigh her ability to be happy and smile, that's when we'll do it. But not before. If she still wants to live, how can I take that from her?

    I've heard of people who's dogs die naturally at home. I've yet to see it though. I wish. Sometimes when I look at her sleeping very lightly I almost wish to find her that way. I don't want her to die, but I'd prefer it happened naturally. morbid?

    good luck to you and Chester. We just baby Lilly till the end. I guess it will be my comfort knowing that I made her life as easy as I possibly could. she gets up every day before I do, at the sound of my alarm, and waits by the door so I will take her to work with me... LOL. She loves going to work.



    it's funny that an animal can become of such value. I was raised on a farm and we always had 'limits ($$)' on vet bills and whatnot. death was a part of the cycle. But how i can become so attached is odd and almost frustrating. It's hard to justify to myself.

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    Senior Member BarclaysMom's Avatar
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    Re: Congestive Heart Failure... when is it 'enough'?

    Chester was a rescue who came to live with us about 8 years ago, and he was an adult then, so we don't really know how old he is. probably 11 or so. He was never in good shape, having been badly abused, and has suffered from skin conditions, ear problems, urine stones, bladder control problems, and probably other stuff I forget. He's a sweet boy, and good natured. One of the problems is that because of the abuse he has always whined a lot, just about life in general. Now when he's got something to really whine about I don't know if he's whining because he's in pain, or just because he's always whined a lot.

    A couple years ago we had to put our cat to sleep. She had heart problems that caused her to lose the use of one leg. We continued treatment for a month or so, giving her fluids at home every day and taking care of her best we could hoping she would recover, until she got a second clot and lost the ability to walk at all. Obviously the only thing to do for her then was to take her to the vet for that final shot. It was very hard but we knew it was for the best. Still, it bothered me for a long time that I had to end her life to end her suffering.

    A friend of ours recently had to put their dog to sleep, then about a week later they went out in the yard in the morning to find their other dog dead! Turns out he had a heart attack and passed away in his sleep. The surprise was not easy on them, especially after losing the other dog. It was just bad luck. But in general I'd wish for any of my dogs to go that way, compared to the alternative. I think very few give us that out though.

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    Junior Member Dustin07's Avatar
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    Re: Congestive Heart Failure... when is it 'enough'?

    Quote Originally Posted by BarclaysMom View Post
    But in general I'd wish for any of my dogs to go that way, compared to the alternative. I think very few give us that out though.
    me too...

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    Senior Member spotted nikes's Avatar
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    Re: Congestive Heart Failure... when is it 'enough'?

    I did the weekly abdomen draining, daily Lasix and heart meds on a cocker spaniel several yrs ago. After the ab drain, she would be frisky, eat and play w/toys. By the end of a week she'd stop eating, be swollen like a water balloon and lethargic. Eventually she didn't swell up, but her lungs started filling w/fluid and she wouldn't eat anything (I was already making her boiled chicken, scrambled eggs, etc just to get her to eat.). I had her put down when her lungs started getting fluid, and her body wasn't bloated and she wouldn't eat.

    Honestly? I think I should have done it sooner. Her quality of life just wasn't there. She didn't enjoy the vet visits, and was uncomfortable several days a week.

    So put your dog down when YOU are ready. If I had done it sooner, I probably would have been questioning if I should have waited. Now, after having gone through it, and with the benefit of a little more wisdom, I'd rather euth a week to early than a day too late.

    Hugs, for what you are going through. BTDT. It's never an easy decision.

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    Junior Member Dustin07's Avatar
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    Re: Congestive Heart Failure... when is it 'enough'?

    ours went the complete opposite way. Lilly's lungs filled up first and she started the hacking. I thought she had kennel cough. we took her in and thats when we found out it was fluid. the Lasix brought the fluid out of her lungs pretty well, but then the build up in the abs started. So far I have only had her drained 2 times. I was going to do it again last week but I bumped up her meds for a couple days instead and it seems to help. The vet said the safe limit was 100mg of the lasix and she gets 50mg a day now, so I bumped her up to 80-100mg. It actually seemed to help get the fluid issue caught up.

    I know it's just post poning the inevitable, but I figure it's better than forcing her to spend a day in the vet once a week getting poked and drained. Her internal organs may not last much longer but at least she'll be a little more comfortable in the mean-time.
    thanks for your post-

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    Re: Congestive Heart Failure... when is it 'enough'?

    Make sure you check into all the possibilites to help her. The nightmare scenerio would be to put her down then find a solution.

    I don't know anything about abdomen draining, but maybe it is something you can do yourself. In my experience, no vet suggested doing home procedures until it became the only choice. Then they taught me all kinds of (basic) care tasks (fluids, iv drugs, blood tests, tube feeding, etc). Once again I know nothing, but see if more frequent home drainings (if even possible) could be far less hard on her and your pocketbook. If she still acts happy (even some of the time) that sounds like a quality of life that should continue.

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    Junior Member Dustin07's Avatar
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    Re: Congestive Heart Failure... when is it 'enough'?

    I thought I would post an update since almost almost another month has passed since I originally posted. She swelled some more and we thought she would have to be drained again, however... we were told that the safe limit on lasix is 100mg (she currently gets 30mg in the morning and 30mg at night)... so with that in mind, I bumped up her lasix again to about 80mg / day... still under the healthy limit. When her breathing got caught up and her tummy shrunk down a bit, we dropped her back down to her normal doseage.

    this has happened almost once a week, but it seems to be controllable. Whenever her breathing gets labored again and she starts swelling, we bump her meds up for a day to 2 days, then bring it back down. seems to work.

    She first started showing signs back in April. We had her drained for the first time in the very end of July. She has been drained twice, but not in the last 6 weeks or so. She does not seem to be getting worse at this time, but I question how long her internal organs can take this medication.

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    Junior Member Dustin07's Avatar
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    Re: Congestive Heart Failure... when is it 'enough'?

    Well I thought I would update the world on Lilly. Her coughing first started last April-ish, and in December I had to have her drained twice. once was a 9 day gap between drainings and the next one was 12 days. Last night she had what I think was a heart attack and died in my arms at home. Its very sad, and I already miss her very much, but I'm glad she died at home rather than me having to take her in to be put to sleep. We wrapped her up in her favorite blankets and will bury her tonight.


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    Re: Congestive Heart Failure... when is it 'enough'?

    Sorry to hear about your girl. She was very pretty.
    Tex-Sun Kennels



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    Senior Member spotted nikes's Avatar
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    Re: Congestive Heart Failure... when is it 'enough'?

    My condolences on your loss.
    Spay or neuter your pet! Founding President Of Thread Killers Anonymous.

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    Junior Member Dustin07's Avatar
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    Re: Congestive Heart Failure... when is it 'enough'?

    Thank you, it's tough because I brought her to work with me for the last 6 or 7 months. It's very difficult to not have her here beside me. A few of my coworkers got teary eyed this morning as well.

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    Senior Member briteday's Avatar
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    Re: Congestive Heart Failure... when is it 'enough'?

    So sorry. There are no words when you lose something so dear. I always try to console myself with the knowledge that somewhere there is another dog who is waiting for me to finish grieving so that I can give it a very special home. Take your time though. My thoughts are with you.
    Being smart is learning from your own mistakes. Being wise is learning from others' mistakes.
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    Senior Member LuvmyRotti's Avatar
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    Re: Congestive Heart Failure... when is it 'enough'?

    Lilly was a very pretty dog. It sounds like you gave her a wonderful life, and did everything you could. My condolences.


    RIP - Jake (1995-2007) Rottweiler
    A dog wags it's tail with it's heart .

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    Senior Member digits mama's Avatar
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    Re: Congestive Heart Failure... when is it 'enough'?

    Run free pretty girl..

    My thoughts are with you during this time.

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    Re: Congestive Heart Failure... when is it 'enough'?

    I'm so sorry. At least she passed in familiar settings surrounded with love.

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    Junior Member Dustin07's Avatar
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    Re: Congestive Heart Failure... when is it 'enough'?

    Thanks all. I was glad that she was able to let go at home, she was a blessing. I learned a lot about patience from her, and I think it was part of God's plan for me to have a dog before a child. She really mellowed me out. On the flip side, my wife is due in May I hope I'm a better dad thanks to my experiences with Lilly.

    I always try to console myself with the knowledge that somewhere there is another dog who is waiting for me to finish grieving so that I can give it a very special home. Take your time though. My thoughts are with you.
    I was thinking the same thing. I adopted Lilly at age 4 and I think my next one I may adopt too. folks I spoke with think the she may have been put down earlier just because of her anxiety disorder had my wife and I not worked with her for so long.

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