Congestive Heart Failure in 16 (ish) year old pit bull

This forum is for dog lovers seeking everyday advice and suggestions on health-related issues. Remember, however, that advice on a public forum simply can't be a substitute for proper medical attention. Only your vet can say assuredly what is best for your dog.

Dolly - RIP Old Lady

Old Dogs Are The- Best Dogs
Barked: Mon Dec 7, '09 11:32pm PST 
Dolly is a rescue I have had for just over a year. She has had a variety of health problems but the past few months she has been having a cough. She was at the emergency clinic back in march for some vomiting and diarrhea which turned out to be related to the Metacam she was on, and the cough was present then so I asked them to look at her lungs. On x ray the specialist said that her lungs were old, and her heart slightly enlarged but not too bad. Fast forward 9 months and the cough is quite a bit worse. Today at the vets a new set of xrays showed her heart is significantly enlarged and likely fluid in her lungs and abdomen. Both the left and right sides are enlarged.

She was started on furosemide (Lasix) today and we will see how it goes. Her kidneys are pretty good but she's slightly anemic and her liver enzymes are elevated.

Has any one had experience with CHF in dogs? I'm particularly interested in natural or homeopathic remedies...I don't expect to cure the poor old girl, just make her comfy for however much time she's got left.

Edited by author Mon Dec 7, '09 11:35pm PST

Bianca CGC- TT HIC Thd- ♥

What big ears- you have...
Barked: Tue Dec 8, '09 1:27am PST 
I have not had experience with CHF with dogs although I had a ferret with heart disease.

However I just wanted to give you this link which has a lot of good information on heart disease in dogs, including listing supplements and natural treatments:

Will Take you- On!
Barked: Tue Dec 8, '09 5:43am PST 
Belle had and eventually died of heart failure (among other things). We could have done all sorts of testing to figure out exactly what was wrong. Our vet outlined a plan and then told us that honestly, what we could find out would not significantly alter her treatment plan and the stress of all the testing could potentially kill her. We waffled for a bit and decided he was right.

She spent her last year or so on an diuretic and a general heart medication. We started them at separate times to be sure they were both helping, and they were. From there, we just took it day by day. As long as she was happy, we were willing to keep her going.

There came a point where her heart was so bad she would have fainting spells. Mostly they affected her back end. We would come home from work, she would leap up and collapse. It was awful, but she actually adjusted very well and learned to lie down for a minute when it happened.

What I hate to say but very much wish I had known, was that the fluid buildup in the lungs can one day overtake them. I feel we let Belle suffer too long in the end, because we didn't know what was happening.

Tucker, CGC,- TDI

Bloggin' Dog
Barked: Tue Dec 8, '09 5:46am PST 
Sorry, Dolly, no experience in this area, but just wanted to say that we will be sending some POTP your way. hug
Leah, CGC

All the Beauty- with none of the- Brains
Barked: Tue Dec 8, '09 5:59am PST 
Have you considered an ECHO or Ultrasound of the heart? It better than xrays can show the severity of the failure and give you more accurate information on how well the heart is compensating or beating. CHF means your pets heart in unable to push an adequate amount of blood out to the periphireal organs and this blood gets stuck around the heart.

Also speak with your vet about a medication called pimobendan - it has been used in human medicine for a while but was recently introduced to Animal Medicine. I have personally seen animals who were given 4-6 months make it 8-10 with this drug. It makes them more comfotable longer.

Also please check out the following websites CHF , CHF2 , CHFmeds

Also for holistic approach you can try a low sodium diet which may help. Also remember lasix or furosemide is a diuretic so make sure alot of fresh water is available, try also adding to food and frequent trips outside are offered. It is not uncommon for a dog to have the occasional accident inside while on this med.

And good luck!

Member Since
Barked: Tue Dec 8, '09 7:29am PST 
My Cavalier King Charles spaniel died of congestive heart failure due to her genetic mitral valve regurgitation. She was 8 years old.

She was on Lasix (tabs, then later injections), Pimobendan (which is NOT used in humans due to risk of sudden death, but has good results in dogs), Enalapril (a human blood pressure drug), and a generic drug related to Lipitor (a cholesterol lowering drug). She was treated at the Tufts Hospital in Grafton, MA, and they took state-of-the-art care of her, including echocardiograms, ultrasounds, and xrays. She also participated in several studies.

Pepper lived about 18 months after her first diagnosis. But she was a relatively young, otherwise healthy dog. So it's hard to compare the prognosis. Be aware that Lasix is a diuretic, so will therefore cause your dog to urinate more often, and may make her have more problems with incontinence. Pepper stopped being able to hold it through the night, so we would have to let her out 1-2 times during the night.

Obviously, the most important thing is for your dog to be comfortable. Lasix can help with that, but may not change the prognosis.
Leah, CGC

All the Beauty- with none of the- Brains
Barked: Tue Dec 8, '09 7:43am PST 
Guest, You are right and I apologize for my misinformation about pimobendin. I was mixing it up with different med. I remember now that it was difficult to get until it began being manufactured specifically for pets because of the risk it posed in human medicine.

little- dog big- life
Barked: Tue Dec 8, '09 9:45am PST 
Dolly - RIP Old Lady

Old Dogs Are The- Best Dogs
Barked: Tue Dec 8, '09 9:16pm PST 
Thank you guys for your help.

We will be beginning on some Fortekor tomorrow to see if that can help her as well.

My vet has recommended an ultrasound of the chest and abdomen but our money situation is not so good and I am not sure if we will be able to go that route (we lost my 8 year old cat this summer to lymphoma and the pet insurance company denied our claim so it used up our extra money fund...and Dolly of course is not insured wink

I just hope to be able to keep her comfy (and warm!) for however long she can hang in there.

Edited by author Tue Dec 8, '09 9:18pm PST

Sallie Mae

Sallie Mae
Barked: Tue Dec 8, '09 9:53pm PST 
We had two dogs die of congestive heart failure. RIP 18 y/o maltese-Mister, and a 24 y/o poodle mix Jodi. Both had spells like Belle had. They would have a seizure, then fall down and it took longer and longer after each spell for them to get over it. They were also on lasix and a heart med. It wasn't easy on either of them and we choose both times to hold them as they went peacefully as their quality of life had gone down such. This was over 5 years ago for Mister and almost 6 for Jodi. They were my babies and we loved them so. I do not know how much medicne has advanced since then, and I hope the best for your pup. Both of my dogs had lived a full life at their ages yet it was still not an easy illness to deal with. They both stayed on medication 6 to 9 months prior to getting to the worse stage. Both these pups were also small dogs. My special little boy Mister had gotten to the point of refusing all food, as he was determined to not take medication any more. Please keep us posted as to how things go with Dolly-Cuddles. Our thoughts and prayers will be with you.