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I am going to give a very detailed account of what I am going through, so please bear with me!

My 12 year old, poodle mix dog Nino (around 11 lbs) started a hacking cough 2 weeks ago. He has never coughed like this before so we took him to the vet the next morning, where he was diagnosed with a heart murmur grade 3. The vet gave us heart medication, Vetmedin, a blood pressure tablet called Enalapril, and the Orbax antibiotic in case it was an infection.

So we immediately gave him the medicine when we came home. Nino later had diarrhea that same day and my Mom immediately blamed the Orbax antibiotic and told us to never give it to him again (her and my older brother hate antibiotics). The very next day, Nino started to do better, only coughing when excited. My mom continued to press on us to not give him the Orbax, so on day 2 it was only Vetmedin/Enalapril.

On day 3, Nino started to cough quite a bit more. I argued/clashed with my brother and mother that we should listen to the vet and give him the Orbax for 10 days like he asked. Although they strongly disagreed, I gave him the Orbax that same day as well as the next 5 days. Nino improved and once again only coughed when excited, and had no diarrhea.

My mom, brother, and then my dad started to lecture with me that the antibiotic is really "killing him," "may stop his cough but is destroying his liver and kidneys, blah blah blah." I know antibiotics have their side effects, but it seemed to be working. Once again I was overpowered and did not give Nino the Orbax for the next 2 days.

Nino did just fine without the Orbax. I thought "Maybe he did not need the full 10 days?". My mom/brother went to the vet on this day, and said his heart rate and blood pressure was a bit better than last time. The vet said to finish the Orbax until the 10 days are over. Of course, my mom told me the vet was wrong and said he did not need it any more. Later that same day, Nino had diarrhea again. There was no Orbax given to him the last 2 days so my mom couldn't blame the antibiotic this time.

Well, my mom then blamed the medications and told me to look up the side effects. I found Vetmedin/Enalapril had diarrhea as a possible side effect. I begged to differ still, but my crazy mom wouldn't stop and said he shouldn't take it anymore even though the vet said Nino will need it for the rest of his life...

The next day I tried to give Nino the Vetmedin/Enalapril but he refused to take it with his food. I saw that loss of appetite could be a side effect too, so I got a little worried. After a little struggle, I managed to give him the Vetmedin but no Enalapril. Later that day, Nino seemed to be in a happier mood, so I suggested to give him the Enalapril but my mom said it was too late. So no Enalapril this day.

The next morning, Nino started coughing a lot again. I became so worried. I gave him the Vetmedin/Enalapril but no Orbax. He started to calm down and rarely coughed throughout the day.

The very next day, Nino coughed a lot again to start the morning. Finally, my parents got worried and took him to the vet. Nino did not have a fever. Did not cough once at the vet (they were there for like 3+ hours). They got an X-ray too. They said he still had a grade 3 heart murmur, probably closer to 4. They said he has an enlarged heart (cardiomyopathy). The vet recommended a third medication, a water pill/diuretic called Furosemide.

OK, so we have given him the Vetmedin, Enalapril, and now the Furosemide the last 5 days or so. Nino is still coughing every morning/night, and random times during the day. It seems like the only time he doesn't cough is when we take him outside to pee/poop or when he's just resting/sleeping. The coughs are even becoming a little fainter at times. Does this mean he is not breathing well? It breaks my heart to see him like this.

I read a lot of things online about his condition. I know when he coughs, the heart has to work extra hard, there is fluid accumulation in his lungs, etc. I read online that the enlarged heart may disrupt airflow through his trachea and may die from not enough oxygen getting supplied to his brain, etc. I keep worrying that he's gonna drop dead at any moment.

I want to also include Nino suffered an injury from our other dog, Royal, where he bite Nino so deep and tore apart a lot of muscles in the upper chest/armpit area of Nino only a month before this hacking cough came up. His rehabilitation was such a hard thing to go through and we were so relieved he recovered. He was back to being Nino but then just 2 in a half weeks later he gets this?

It's just hard to fathom; Nino was doing so well before. We always said how healthy he was for his age before the injury and cough.

Is it possible to get the cough to go down again like it did for the first week? Or is it not going to get better and become chronic?

Is it possible Nino has an infection that was undetected? Should I start giving him the Orbax again? Should be collect his poop for a stool test?

Did the injury from Royal deeply biting him possibly cause this or accelerate this condition to occur?

How long can Nino live with this condition? I've read varying accounts from others online that it can be 2 years or just 2 weeks. I am so scared for Nino, should I take him to the vet again? Or should I seek a 2nd opinion, maybe look for one of those heart specialist/cardiologist?

If you've gone this far, THANK YOU so much for listening!

I would love to hear any advice/suggestions from anyone who has gone through similar experiences! PLEASE, all responses are welcomed!
 

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I'm sorry about Nino; I had a 15y/o Pomeranian that had cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and a grade IV heart murmur. She was maintained mostly on the Vetmedin for 3 years, but had to take Lasix occasionally.

My vet would give her cough medicines to suppress her cough if she didn't have any signs of a pulmonary infection; he viewed it as a comfort measure because she sometimes would stay awake trying to "cough up" what couldn't be coughed up.

Her coughing actually decreased as her disease progressed, although her heart was so enlarged that I could see it beat through her ribcage.

I trusted my vets completely, and they were wonderful at keeping her comfortable and enjoying life as long as possible. It might be better for you to get a second opinion, or consult a specialist, if your parents don't agree with this vet, or are resistant in following his recommendations.

It's hard to see a loved pet suffer.
 

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I'm sorry about Nino; I had a 15y/o Pomeranian that had cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and a grade IV heart murmur. She was maintained mostly on the Vetmedin for 3 years, but had to take Lasix occasionally.

My vet would give her cough medicines to suppress her cough if she didn't have any signs of a pulmonary infection; he viewed it as a comfort measure because she sometimes would stay awake trying to "cough up" what couldn't be coughed up.

Her coughing actually decreased as her disease progressed, although her heart was so enlarged that I could see it beat through her ribcage.

I trusted my vets completely, and they were wonderful at keeping her comfortable and enjoying life as long as possible. It might be better for you to get a second opinion, or consult a specialist, if your parents don't agree with this vet, or are resistant in following his recommendations.

It's hard to see a loved pet suffer.
Thank you so much for your response, it means a lot to me! I am sorry to hear about your dog as well, I am sure she was wonderful! And yes, it is hard to see them in this condition.

Did your sweet Pomeranian cough a lot during those 3 years? Like every day? Or were there periods of time she did not cough at all?

Also, if you don't mind answering, when she first starting taking the heart medication(s), did she instantly get better right away? Or did it not really change? And did it progressively get worse year after year? I just want to know what to expect.

Once again thank you so much for you help! If you have any more advice for me, I am all ears!
 

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I am guessing that the Vet is providing these meds to manage the symptoms, not to cure the dog. A bad valve, which will not heal, could be part of the cause of heart congestion, which can enlarge the heart, irritating the trachea, and cause the coughing. The diuretic can reduce fluid buildup and reducing heart congestion. But eventually, the congestion will build in the heart, and also in the lungs. My niece's French Bulldog with similar symptoms was given 6 - 12 mos, and he had so much trouble breathing that she euth'd him around Christmas, about 6 mos.

I think your goal is to try to make Nino as comfortable as possible at this point, rather than trying to prolong his life. A specialist may be able to fine tune the meds to improve quality of life, but probably won't be able to extend Nino's life. I'm sorry.
 
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