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Thread: Help! Dog with Congestive Heart Failure

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    Unhappy Help! Dog with Congestive Heart Failure

    My dog is 14 years old and was diagnosed with CHF about 6months ago. She has been put on Lasix, Theophylline, and Hydrocodone. I started with low doses 1x p/day but now she is 2x p/day. In the begining everything seemed good, but lately her coughing has become severe. Almost sounds like she has a bad chest cold right now. Not sure if maybe she contracted a cold or if it is from the CHF. She has also developed incontinence, so now I have added a supplement for that. She has bad hips and can't seem to get comfortable, it takes her a long time to find a spot to laydown, she whines when trying to place herself on her pillow or wherever she starts to lay.

    She is my baby and a 2nd generation. I was there when she was born, the entire litter of puppies came down with Parvo, which as you know if fatal to puppies, all but one died and that is my Chanel. We nursed her back to health and she even gave birth to a 3rd generation. We kept 1 out of the litter.

    My question is, do I end her suffering by putting her to sleep or let her live her life? Does anyone know if this disease can be reversed? I can't sleep at night just thinking about what is the best thing to do. Am I being selfish for keeping her here? Being a Christian, I don't feel I have the authority to end her life before her time. Either way I feel like I am being selfish. Keep her here suffering or take her life before her time?

    This is probably too much for anyone to answer, but any input would be helpful.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Lorina's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Pocono Mountains
    I'm sorry you have to deal with this decision. It really sucks. I went through the same thing with my cat, who developed CHF after a year and a half of Chronic Renal Failure. We managed the kidneys well, but by the time CHF settled in, there wasn't much we could do. Her body was just wore out. I know some dogs & cats whose CHF are/were being managed for years, but once it reaches it's final stages, where medication isn't helping, there's not much left. Only your vet can tell you if Chanel is at those final stages or if there's any other medications or treatments that could help.

    With my Sheba, she had been doing fairly well. I work at a vets, and took her with me the three days before Thanksgiving. Mostly because she was weak, but trying to be more active than I'd like, and I was worried she'd fall down the steps or off a windowsill if I left her home. Her lungs sounded a little congested, but an extra dose of Lasix helped that. But the night before Thanksgiving, she crashed and was breathing really bad. I did as the vet told me and gave her an extra dose of Lasix, and it helped some. T-day, I had to take her to the emergency clinic. She was huffing and puffing and very weak. I couldn't let her suffer like that. I knew there'd either be something minimally invasive they could do, or I'd let her go. There was nothing to be done. Her chest cavity and lungs were full of fluid. You couldn't even see her heart on the xrays. It was the end. As much as I half expected every day for the prior six weeks for her to die in her sleep, I wasn't ready. But I knew that dying a "natural death" would be painful and frightening. She'd basically "drown" with the fluid in and around her lungs. Euthanizing her was the most unselfish thing I could do. It took just seconds, and it was a relief to not see her gasping anymore.

    It's a very personal decision, but please do not feel like you're letting her down if you do decide to put her to sleep. The way I looked at it, it was only my love and care that was keeping Sheba going. She'd have died long before if I didn't "interfere" with medication that was keeping her alive. She couldn't die on her own. Not peacefully. I had to give that option back to her.

  4. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    United States
    There are other heart medications that can be tried, in fact I am surprised that your vet didn't put her on Enacard (aka Vasotec). This drug lowers blood pressure and helps the heart function better. Like I said I am surprised she is not already on it.

    Other than that, it doesn't sound good. You of course have to be the one to decide if she is having any fun anymore. If everyday is misery then it would be kindest to put her to sleep. Heart failure is not a fun disease to die from. If she is coughing because of fluid in her lungs, like Lorina said, she will basically drown in her own fluids. It must be so awful not to be able to get a good breath.

    I think you need to consult with your vet about if anything else can be done. Sometimes the Lasix dose can be adjusted as the dog gets worse. She may need another x-ray to be sure. Is your dog on pain meds for the bad hips? If not, that can be a terrible misery in itself.

    Sometimes they have trouble laying down because their heart is so big or they have so much fluid in their lungs that they can't breathe properly when they are laying down, so they wander until they are so exhausted that they finally lay down because theyy can't stand anymore, and they just struggle to breath. If it is to this point, euthanasia would be the kindest thing
    Veterinary Technician for over 20 years.

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