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PostHeaderIcon Does Your Dog Suffer From Congestive Heart Failure & Coughing?

This is a story of my never-ending battle with congestive heart failure with my 12-year-old Pomeranian named Precious.  Hopefully by sharing this story it may help you deal with your dogs congestive heart failure.

Precious is  a white Pomeranian that was given to me when she was 6 years old. It seems she was passed around from a few different breeders who decided since she wouldn’t breed they had no use for her. So sad.

At least they gave her a name that fits, she really is precious. Whenever I would take her to the vet he would always say “She is so Precious.” He was even able to clean  her teeth without putting her to sleep since her heart condition would not permit giving her the anesthetic.

She was a great addition to our family. I had another Pomeranian who was much older and I didn’t think he would be around much longer.

Precious was pretty healthy until she turned 12 then it started with a little cough so off we went to the vet. After her examination he said she had a heart murmur and congestive heart failure and needed to be on a diuretic.

I don’t really remember how long the diuretic worked but eventually her coughing returned. On our next visit to the vet he then put her on Enapril.  Like before it worked for a while and then off we went to the vet again.  This time he prescribed Vetmedin along with the Enapril and diuretic and told me to let him know how she does.

I wish I could say that this was the magic combination of medicine and that she didn’t have any more visits to the vets, but it just wasn’t so.  I was there so many times that I no longer had to tell them my name when I checked in.

One time on a weekend she coughed so much I had to take her to the animal emergency clinic. Why do these things always happen at night or on a weekend? They gave her a diuretic shot and some oxygen and we were able to return home after a short while.

They told me to follow-up with my vet and when I did he  increased her diuretic to 2 times a day and  said I could give it as much as 3 times a day if necessary. I wish I had know that before my visit to the emergency clinic.  I really hate taking her there. Not only do you need to take out a mortgage to pay them but I never have any confidence in their ability.

Her next episode of coughing began naturally on another weekend, so I gave her another dose of diuretic and thought I might do some research online.  It was then I discovered that one of the drugs she was taking,  Enapril has a side effect of coughing.

Maybe it was I long shot but I mentioned it to my vet and although I’m pretty sure he didn’t think that was the cause of her coughing he did say I could try not giving her the Enapril.

I didn’t tell him that I already stopped giving it to her after I read the side effects of the drug.  Amazingly she coughed less and it did seem to last quite a while before the coughing returned.

This time when it returned it came back with a vengeance.  She would wake up in the middle of night and cough for what seemed like forever. I felt so helpless knowing there was nothing I could do for her.

I started to think maybe it was time to put her down. When I returned to  the vet I asked him “Isn’t there anything else that I can give her for her coughing, I don’t care if it shortens her life, I think the quality of life is more important.”

I’m think he agreed because he then prescribed hydrocodone for her. Since the majority of her coughing was at night I gave her the hydrocodone before bedtime and this really helped us both sleep. Sure she still coughed but it only lasted a few minutes and she would go back to sleep.

Of course nothing lasts forever and as fate was determined I was to take another trip down the yellow brick road.  I started to feel that the great oz ( my vet) just didn’t have any more magic behind the curtain.

But thankfully I was wrong, he suggested an  x-ray of her heart. I have to admit for a split second I thought what was the point it couldn’t show anything we don’t already know. What it did show was that her heart was only slightly enlarged so maybe her coughing was due to some other problem.

He suggested that we give her shot of predisone (a steroid) and see if that helps her.   He also gave me some predisone pills. I guess the great oz  (no disrespect meant, I really love my vet) had fixed her once again, because her coughing seemed to be under control once more.  At least it was  until the next time.

So now I give her predisone one night the next night I give her hydrocodone. She takes the  Vetmedin, and diuretic twice a day. She also has to take thyroid medicine for low thyroid twice a day. Can you believe all these pills?

This year she will be 15 years old and she still is hanging on. She usually wakes up every night (of course she sleeps in my bed) and has to drink water probably due to the diuretic and steroid and coughs for a few minutes but then is able to go back to sleep.

It’s funny how one problem solved just seems to warp into many others. She recently lost control of her bladder. I began to use a pee pad under her for a while but got tired of washing my bedding almost every night. I then found this cute doggy diaper online. I know there is a medicine that is supposed to help with her loss of bladder control but I just don’t think I can give her any more pills.

If that wasn’t enough problems, recently her seizures have returned. It’s odd she only has one when she gets really excited. That is usually when I leave or come home from somewhere. Whenever I return home, I have to quickly go inside and pick her up to try to keep her from getting too excited.

In the beginning her seizures were short (around 20 seconds) in fact if you never seen a seizure in a dog you probably would not really recognize it as one. Unfortunately,  I’ve seen more than a few with my last Pomeranian who lived to be 17.  Now her seizures have become much worse. She falls down looses consciousness along with loosing control of her bladder.

She has always been a very picky eater but lately she is always hungry. She will eat just about anything I put in front of her.  I suspect Cushing’s disease. Perhaps this is why her seizures have returned.  Seizures seem to have a connection with Cushing’s disease.

I mentioned these latest concerns with my vet and diagnosing and treating Cushings involves more blood work,  possible ultrasound of the adrenal gland and drugs with many side effects. I think we both decided with all her current problems it’s best to hold off and see how she does.

I’m always asking myself if I am being fair to her. Everyone says you will just know when the time comes to put her down, but I just don’t feel it yet.  I can only pray that I am doing the right thing for her.

The following is a picture of Precious in days before congestive heart failure.


Jungle Precious 300x225 Does Your Dog Suffer From Congestive Heart Failure & Coughing?


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38 Responses to “Does Your Dog Suffer From Congestive Heart Failure & Coughing?”

  • Barb Noon says:

    Thank you for posting your story. Such a beautiful dog! My Yorkie is 14 and is on Enapril and Lasix. She also is using puppy pads as she can’t control her bladder when she sleeps. We have upped the Lasix twice so far. It is helpful to see what you tried and read about the results. My mother died from congestive heart failure, so I am sad it is happening to my dog as well. Again, thank you for the information!

  • kcbird says:

    Good post – my long-haired Chihuahua is in beginning stages of chf – and today she is getting ultrasound of her heart (already had x-ray – enlarged heart very evident). I agree that it is very sad to hear coughing and gagging at night, and know there isn’t anything to do. I sometimes pray that she will just go peacefully in her sleep – but I don’t think that is as common as I think. I am sorry that you, I, and so many others are going through the heartache of our ‘babies’ suffering with chf.

  • Christine says:

    I thank you for taking the time to write your experience living with a dog that has CHF. My dog has been experiencing ALL of the symptoms described above, unfortunately, my vet has not been so direct to me in telling my what my dog is having, although all of my dog’s medication suggest that he has CHF. After reading this article, I’m going to a different vet and tells him what I have suspected all these months.

  • have a 13 yr old scottie with chf and murmur. after this, that and the other thing she is now down to vetmedin – 1/2 pill in morning and half at night. lasix 20mg- in morning and prednisone 5 mg-in morning. There has been no coughing forover a month (start of this program). She leaks once a day while sleeping and I never seem to get the diaper use at the right time, so she gets a back half bath each time. I note there is definite weakness in her hind quarters and she is not always with us mind wise, fairly blind and desperately deaf.But she eats well. I just started to cook her food now and she loves that. I still wonder whether I am during her a favour or me one. I don’t want to go back to the vet as he won’t make that decision for me.
    Thanks to all above for the many replies. I helped me a lot!

    • Sue Huss says:

      So many times when I went to the vet I expected him to say it was time to put her down, but he never attempted to help me make that decision either. I finally made the decision when her coughing was non-stop during the day and he just asked me if I was giving her all her meds? I had to find the courage and just say maybe this is the time to just let her rest. It’s always hard but I think we’ll see each other again. I hope you will also know when the time comes to say good-by to your Scottie.

      • Since I have been cooking her meals she is fantastic. She may now cough once a day and that is a single little cough. She started on Vetmedin on Christmas eve 2012 and I was told by the vet 12 months would be max. The computer tells the same story. Now I wonder, she is doing so well. No I don’texpect a miracle, but am truly happy at how she is now.

        • Shannon says:

          Hi, I have a 10 year old Chihuahua rescue that has been diagnosed with CHF. We’ve only had him 8 months, but I’d like to keep him as healthy and happy as I can for the time he has left. I am interested in cooking for him if that seemed to help you… do you have any balanced recipes that you follow? I’ve been looking on line and it’s so hard to figure out what I should be making to be sure he is getting all the nutrients he needs.

  • Brandon says:

    My dog Buddy has CHF. I just want to make sure he is not in any pain when he is coughing or trying to sleep. The vet said if he is not whimpering or crying then he should not be in any pain. How do I know that to be true though. Buddy is on four kind’s of pill’s most two times a day. He drinks a lot of water, although lately he slowed down a bit. He still eats anything we give him. He will run upstairs or follow us. Just hearing him breath that hard is sad. I want to make sure he is given the best quality we can provide. What would your thoughts be on this? He has seizures as well. The first few were short like what you said, then they last a minute. Then he get’s right back up and act’s like nothing happen. I don’t wan’t to be watching tv laughing at a show while he is coughing or breathing o hard its causing pain, ya know. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

    • Sue Huss says:

      Has your vet checked Buddy for low thyroid? After my Precious started taking her thyroid medicine she was seizure free right up until the very end when her coughing became non stop. You didn’t mention what meds Buddy was on? If you think his coughing has gotten worse you might ask your vet for hydrocodone which is a cough suppressant. I’m sorry you’re having to go through this but I’m sure your happy for the time you have left with Buddy.

  • It’s so good to hear from other dog lovers that have this particular problem. I have the diapers but Belle is very adept at getting out of them. She is very good, letting me put them on but I have yet to catch her as she gets out of them. I found that the next best thing to fight the “leaking” problem is Resolve, a stiff brush and the Hoover Steam Vac. We all do the best we can firstly for the comfort of our pet.

  • One small item I forgot to mention but a big one as far as
    Belle is concerned. During that horrible heat spell we had we bought a box fan, in hopes of deflecting some of the a/c cool air into the kitchen. It was situated at an angle at the door way. Belle settled down there, within a foot of the fan and spends at least 90% of her time there. She seems to be less laboured in her breathing. We keep our place very cool so I am sure that is why the heat bothered her so much. Yes, I worried about her 1/2 baths but all seems just fine. Anythibg I can say that helps anyone else also helps me. A side problem that I have is my 4 yr old female cat that loves
    Belle. Belle does not return her affection but Cos never gives up, always very close to her and every so often takes time to let me know how sick Belle is and why don’t I do some thing. I get a good scolding! I love my pets.

  • Shanshine says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve been up all noght after my 11yo malt kept coughing, it happems to be a public holiday so all vets are closed. I’ll have to monitor and bring him to the vet tomorrow.

    • Sue Huss says:

      If this happens on a weekend when only emergency vets are available, as it always does, you might try increasing his diuretic that’s what my vet told me to do. If you’re like me you hate to go to the emergency vet not just because of their price but I don’t think they are really that competent when it comes to issues like this.

      • Shanshine says:

        Hi Sue,

        How would you know how much to up for the diuretics?

        Anyhow, I got my boy to the vet, and he was given an X-ray, a jab of Frusemide (which he is also taking twice daily) and put in an oxygen cage for an hour. Doc says his dosage of Frusemide is already on the high side (1.4ml twice daily) for his size 4.5kg) so there’s only so much that she can push him up, and the next one would have to be a supplement. She did warn that medicine has also a limit to its efficacy.

        Sigh. His liver is also an issue, with crazy elevated ALT and ALKP. On medication and ihopefully, can be controlled with meds.

        Thanks for sharing!

        • Sue Huss says:

          Hi, Thanks for your comment I guess I find sharing my dogs health problems therapeutic because you always discover someone else like you have more problems and you can be grateful you’re only dealing with what you have.
          As far as the dosage of the diuretic I believe it is 1 to 2 mg per pound of dog once or twice a day.
          I believe the third dose my vet recommended would not be a every day thing only when your dog seems to be getting worse like in the middle of the night when your unable to speak with your vet.
          I recently found out that there is another diuretic that works differently that my vet gave a dog whom I was pet sitting for. This dog was on all the other regular meds Enapril, Vetmedin and a recently increased dose of his diuretic, but he had a hard day coughing and when I took him to the vet for his owner he gave him a shot which was a diuretic and another prescription for the diuretic I never heard of. He said it works in another way from the one he had been on. I know this was all just to hold him over for a few weeks because I found out his owner had to put him down today. I guess your vet was trying to find the easiest way to tell you that maybe it’s time to put him down. I know if you’re like me I wanted someone to tell me because I didn’t want the guilt of deciding when it was time, but my vet just would never suggest it. If you’re not sure just come out and ask him what he thinks you should do. Sorry for the long rambling answer but I hope everything works out for you.

  • Allison says:

    Hi Sue,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I have a 9 year old Maltese, Chase, who was diagnosed with severe MV insufficiency this past summer (July 2013). At the time, the vet started him on Vetmedin, Enalapril, and Lasix (12.5 mg once a day). A week in to treatment, his platelet count dropped to 30,000 and he was taken off the enalapril and started on prednisone and carafate. After a week, his platelet count normalized and he was on the road to recovery. Over the course of the next few months, the vet doubled his lasix to 12.5 twice a day and added 12.5 mg Aldactone. Recently, I noticed that Chase was coughing, not breathing as well and was having more activity intolerance than usual. I listened to his lungs (I’m an RN and currently in medical school) and I heard crackles, which of course meant fluid was building up in his lungs. He was also diagnosed with a collapsing trachea and so I gave him several PRN doses torbutrol to help with the cough and to calm his anxiety, but nothing seemed to help. I took him in to see his internal medicine/cardiologist vet this morning and they told me he had gone into full blown heart failure. By the time we made it to the vet, his tongue and gums were blue! I was so devastated. They immediately gave in 40 mg IV Lasix and placed him on Oxygen. At that point, they gave me two options: 1) Put him to sleep or 2)Place him in an oxygen chamber and continue to diurese him with IV lasix until his breathing improves. Well, at this point, #1 was not an option for me b/c before we got to the vet, Chase was running around and barking with my other 2 dogs like nothing was wrong. Of course, it wasn’t like he used to do it when he was a puppy, but he was holding his own with the other dogs. The vet told me that his prognosis with the IV Lasix and Oxygen chamber was good. If we can see him through this, we can increase his Lasix and he will have at least 6 months or longer. Right now, I’m sitting at home and my baby Chase is still at the vet receiving all of his treatments. I’m waiting to hear back from the vet about how he’s doing. The last I heard is that he is starting to “pink up”, but his breathing is not out of the woods yet. I’m so torn up and I just keep crying when I think about it. Sue, I don’t know how remained so strong during when you were going through this with Precious. By the way, I also have a Pomeranian, too. His name is Flash. He’s all black with with a little white streak on his belly :) I’m sorry to have written a book here, but I wanted to thank you again for sharing your story. It has truly been an inspiration to me and is helping me to cope with what I am going through with Chase. Thanks! Allison

    • Sue Huss says:

      Hi Allison, Your story is the true inspiration, I can’t imagine holding it together after all you’ve been through. On a brighter note my last Pomeranian before Precious lived to be almost 18. I hope your Flash lives a long healthy life. I’ll be thinking about you and Chase and hope your last days together are good.

      • Allison says:

        Hi Sue,

        I am so sorry for taking so long to reply to your response. Things got so hectic with Chase being so sick…I was in the middle of final exams and the holidays were right around the corner. After everything we went through, I had to decompress and by the time things got back to normal, classes were back in session. Anyhow, I wanted to thank you for your sweet words of encouragement during my difficult time. We have had a few ups and downs since Dec, but I am so happy to report that Chase is doing remarkably well now. I am going to respond to Shirley Hart’s post and detail the medical and holistic protocol that I have Chase following.


  • Cher says:

    my 11 yr old toy poodle shitzu mix …6 pds was diag w chf in october. her coughing is most severe when sleeping or when dad or mom come home from work. she is on furosemide 3x a day .6mg and 1mg of liquid pimobendan 1x day ….question i see mention of a steroid being given. i know the pimobendan is an appetite suppressor so we hv added 1\4 of .5mg pred to her food. that is helping here eat now..not by dr. script’ but hv our other dog taken it daily for past 3 years. so we hv it on hand.
    scared…not sure of proper course to take w her….she pee’d today on the couch, she looks sad …. and tht makes us equally sad.
    i know nothing can be done i just felt the need to write…

    • Sue Huss says:

      Hi, I’m glad you wrote. It seems so many pet owners are going through the same problems with CHF. Pimobendan the generic form of Vetmedin is what my Precious was on also. It’s not really an appetite suppressant but the side effects can be nausea, diarrhea and loss of appetite. I personally wouldn’t give a steroid to increase her appetite because steroids have their own set of side effects including increased thirst and suppressing their immune system which is why maybe she peed on your couch. Why don’t you try real food to get her to eat, if that doesn’t work just tell your Vet that Pimobendan is not something you want to continue with because of it’s side effects. Perhaps he can suggest lowering the dose and see if that works.
      If her coughing at night gets too bad don’t be afraid to ask your vet for a cough suppressant to give her a better quality of life while she is still here. My vet gave my Precious hydrocodone but not until I insisted she must have something. Precious never peed on my couch but she would frequently be incontinent because of the diuretics. I used a pee pad and towel on the couch where she always slept during the day and a doggie cloth diaper at night because she slept with me. I hope this helps.

  • sandi davidson says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience. Buster my ten year old Boston Terrier was just diagnosed with CHF. Aside from the diuretic and en April he is also on an antibiotic for an upper – respiratory infection. He started his meds last Thursday and I have seen zero improvement. I don’t know what to expect since it’s been a few short days. His vet believes the prognosis is good, which makes me cautiously optimistic. My biggest concern right now is getting him to eat. Forget dog food, he even turns away from doggy treats including freeze dried chicken and yummy duck jerky. At first I cooked rice and chicken. That worked once. Then hamburger and rice. Again worked once. Moved on to steak, which he accepted hand fed a few times. Now nothing. I’m at my wits end. I wonder if anyone else experienced appetite loss with any of the meds? I’ll call the vet tomorrow to see if a steroid shot is advisable.

    • Sue Huss says:

      Hi Sandi,
      Thank you for your comment. I was wondering what was the vet’s reason for your Buster’s lack of appetite.
      My Precious had no problem eating more than usual. I don’t know if any CHF drugs cause a loss of appetite. Could he have another problem for appetite loss such as low thyroid, dental problems, or even more serious health problems like kidney failure, liver problenms or cancer? I think a steroid might help temporarily but it’s just masking the real problem of his lack of appetite. It’s possible your vet seeing your concern over Buster’s CHF didn’t want to alarm you with the possibility of any other health problems. I hope you and your vet can find out the reason for his appetite loss. I hope you will let me know.

  • jennifer says:

    your story hit home with me. my 11 year old chihuahua has chf and was diagnosed 2 months ago. at first the vetmedin and lasix worked like a charm — then the coughing started. now she has steriods and the cough medicine plus the other two. you story is so similar to mine. my ferret is also in chf and adrenal gland disease and was diagnosed 6 months ago and has no true signs of either too often.

    • Sue Huss says:

      Hi Jennifer,
      You didn’t mention if your chihuahua was on Enapril also. You might want to try eliminating that drug if it is O.K. with your vet and see if the coughing improves for a while. It worked for me, but like everything else it was just a temporary fix. I hope your last days with her are good.

      • jennifer says:

        no she isnt on that medicine. the only thing they added was a steriod for a week to help with inflammation. she goes back on wed to see if there is any progress

  • Shirley Hart says:

    Just wanted to say I am going through the same thing with my little yorkie “tiki” – she has had this for about 2 years — they have her on vetmedin and Lasix — but she is coughing most of the time. She will not take her meds – I have to force them down her –morning and night — she has swelling etc. She has no problem eating but I do notice her not breathing to well at times. I am afraid to almost pick her up because I am afraid she can’t breathe with any pressure on her. Do you think the vetmedin is making her cough more? I hate to take her to the vets because she gets so upset that the last time she passed out. It just kills me to see her like this. I am not sure what to do. Have any of you tried natural herbs to help? Are they a waste of money. The vets just want to push more pills and more tests and like I said she can’t take that. I just don’t think I can put her down but then again I do not want her to suffer. This is so hard. Friends that come around and hear her coughing want to pick her up and pet her and I am like – that won’t help, just makes her worse . You just feel helpless. well thanks for listening!

    • Sue Huss says:

      Hi, From what I read the most reported side effects of Vetmedin are poor appetite, lethargy, diarrhea, dyspnea, and weakness. The Vetmedin is such a large pill it was hard to give even a half of a pill to my dog also. I broke it down into two smaller pieces and put it in braunschweiger. If you’ve never heard of it is a sticky meat composed of liver and pork, you can find it by the lunchmeat. I’ve never found a dog who doesn’t love it.
      The trick is put a small piece of pill into a small piece of meat. If the piece of meat is to big your dog will have to chew it and usually ends up spitting the pill out. They are so clever aren’t they. It the meat is a small piece they will gobble it up with hardly a second thought, especially if you already let them try it and they liked it. Hope this works for getting her pills down.
      I have tried natural products but I’m not sure if it made any difference perhaps it gave her a little longer to live it’s hard to say. I agree picking your dog up just puts pressure on her lungs and possibly make the coughing worse. If she is coughing continuously I think maybe you should ask your vet if he thinks it is time to put her down, I know it is a terrible decision to make on your own and I don’t think vets will bring the topic up first. I hope you can find the courage to make the right decision, it’s so hard parting with our canine children many people just don’t understand.

    • Allison says:

      Hi Shirley,

      I posted back on Dec 3, 2013, when my Maltese, Chase, had an acute decompensation episode with his heart failure. If you have a minute, you can take a look at my post. At the time, Chase was extremely sick as he was in severe pulmonary edema (he was literally drowning internally due to the excessive fluid inside of his lungs). He was kept overnight in the ICU part of the ER. During his stay, he received over 300 mg of IV Lasix and had to spend 12 hrs in the oxygen chamber.

      When I was finally able to take him home, he was better, but he was still walking a fine line b/c he still had some fluid in his right lung. I am an RN and also I’m currently in medical school so I have extensive medical training. I am able to listen to Chase’s lungs with my stethoscope and the vet was comfortable with my titrating Chase’s Lasix until his lungs were clear (meaning I could hear no fluid with my stethoscope). For about a week, I listened to Chase’s lungs before every dose of Lasix (he was taking 20 mg BID [twice a day). If I heard fluid, I would increase his dose of Lasix. After the 1st week of him being home, I had increased his Lasix from 25 mg daily (12.5mg in the AM and 12.5 mg in the PM) to 72.5 mg daily (40 mg in the AM and 32.5 mg in the PM). The vet has also increased his Vetmedin from 1.25 mg BID to 2.85 mg BID and his Spironolactone from 6.25 mg BID to 12.5 mg BID. Despite my increasing his Lasix and the increase in all of his other medication doses, he still had fluid in his right lung! Although he was asymptomatic, I was beside myself because I knew that the residual fluid in his right lung was not a good sign bc it meant that he could decompensate and we would be back to square and in the ICU/ER again.

      I researched and read studies about dogs with heart failure. I wanted to make sure we weren’t missing anything with his medical treatment. I learned that we had all of the medical bases covered so I then started researching holistic and complementary therapies for dogs with heart failure (HF). I worked as an RN in cardiology for several years and one thing I know is that diet is critical with HF patients, especially salt intake. I spoke with my vet about it and she didn’t think that changing his diet would make much of a difference (he was eating Blue Buffalo- Salmon and Sweet potato formula). The medical treatment that animals receives strongly parallels human treatments so it made sense to me that if changing a human’s diet can lead to health improvement, it should be true for a dog.

      In my research about homemade dog food, I learned that dog food manufacturers aren’t required by law to report the amount of sodium in there food. However, you can get this info by contacting the company directly. A dog with severe heart failure should not consume more than 20 mg of sodium per day. Most commercial dog foods exceed this 5-10 fold! Also, I want to bring up another point. I have a hard time giving Chase his pills so I would coat them in peanut butter. 2 TBSP of peanut butter contains about 160 mg of sodium. I was giving about 1 tsp with his pills twice a day, which worked out to be about 50 mg sodium. The is more than double the amt of sodium he should have per day and that didn’t even include the sodium in his commercial dog food. A super bright light bulb went off and I knew that I had to have 100% control over his food.

      I started making his food myself. I have used both recipes from http://www.homemadedogfood.com. When making these recipes, you have to add a supplement so I added Dinovite and Lickochops. As far his pill delivery, I don’t like to mix it in with his food b/c I want to ensure he take all of it. I bought a pill crusher and I crush all of his meds into a fine powder. I either mix the powder with a little bland baby food, a tsp of the lickochops, or a little of his homemade food and we haven’t had any issues.

      Chase’s HF is due to severe mitral valve insufficiency (MVI) so focused on therapies that were directed toward MVI. This is the following holistic protocol I have him on:

      -Ubiquinol (ordered from mercola.com b/c they have it in a convenient liquid form you can pump in the food- in human studies, ubiquinol strengthens the pumping action of the heart- we call it the EF)
      -Krill Oil (same as ubiquinol comment)
      -Vitamin E drops (dogs with HF have been shown to be deficient in Vit E)
      -Arginine, GPLC-Carnitine, and Taurine (these are all amino acids that have been found to be deficient in dogs with HF. Arginine is thought to help with activity intolerance and shortness of breath. I have the powdered form of Arginine and Taurine, but I have to crush the Carnitine).
      -DRibose: This has been shown to specifically improve the strength of the heart in dogs with HF due to MVI. Comes in a powder
      -B Complex: Another deficiency seen in dogs with CHF (I crush them).
      -Hawthorne Berry and Red Clover: I am using these herbs is used for their diuretic effects. I bought them in the drop form.

      I think that’s pretty much it for the holistic protocol, but if I realize I left something out I’ll let you know.

      Ok…now, for the great news. After being on homemade food and the holistic protocol for 1 month, Chase was a completely different dog. The months leading up to his diagnosis and he literally looked depressed. When he started his initial treatment, he didn’t seem as depressed and lethargic, but he wasn’t the playful, energetic, happy-go-lucky dog that he used to be. I took Chase in for his follow up. After starting my holistic protocol, Chase was full of energy and running around like a puppy and his lungs were COMPLETELY clear!!! I was so pleased and I couldn’t wait to go back for our 1 month follow up with the vet.

      The vet could not believe her eyes when she saw Chase. She said she had never seen him looking this full of life since she started treating him. She took him back to run labs and do a follow up echocardiogram and she came back with phenomenal news. All of his blood work was perfect, but I have even better news! The size of his Left atrium has decrease 2 mm from his baseline measurement when he was first diagnosed in July 2013. His dilated left atrium was decreasing in size and his heart function was starting to show improvement! She was happy and shocked at the same time! She just told me to keep doing everything that I was doing, lol! It’s been 2 months since that last visit and we have another follow up tomorrow so I will definitely keep you posted.

      I’m so sorry for writing a book, but I just hope that some of this information is helpful. I know exactly where you are b/c I was at that place 3 months ago. My heart goes out to you and Tiki <3. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. I will try to give you as much info as I can.


      • Dawn says:

        Thank you for you holistic info Allison. Can you please send me your info on where you buy your products? Thank you. :) . jeffers_dawn@yahoo.com

      • Shanshine says:

        Wow Allison, your post has been greatly informative. My dog has been on homecooked food + kibbles all along. After he came down with CHF, I added in supplements, but only those that my vet ‘gave’ the okay for, based on what she knows as medically, she cannot attest to the efficacy of alternate/holistic medicine which I would be more keen to pursue.

        Since the one episode of having breathing issues in Nov 2013 (he was diagnosed in Apr 2013), there has been one other recurrence on Valentine’s Day this year and he is on increased dosage of Frusemide and added in a second diuretic, Spironolactone. Since then, incidence of him coughing has reduced significantly, but he has started wheezing, owing to a second condition that has developed; canine bronchial disease, which is quite similar to asthma in human. Oral medications are out as it would worsen his heart condition, and he is currently on antibiotics and if it gets worse, he may have to be on Ventolin.

  • Sue says:

    CHF stinks!!! My Eli is about 11, not sure of his exact age because I adopted him from a shelter. Best dog ever. Diagnosed with CHF 7 months ago. I was told statistically 50% of dogs live 6-12 months longer after diagnosis. It was a wait and see to see what 50% he fell into. Well, he’s at the Animal Emergency Hospital right now and will be there for at least the next 12 hours, IV Lasix and oxygen tank. Respiratory rate is 60 (normal is around 20). He was coughing and coughing for some reason and would cough up foam. I gave him another dose of his Lasix but after 2 hours took him to the hospital. Had to put down a deposit and it was over $1000. Money was never an object with my furkids (not that I make a lot), but I’ll worry about how to pay for it later. I am now struggling with the thought of even if he rebounds, when will be the next time. What about when I’m at work and he’s crated, what if he starts the non-stop coughing when I’m gone and he’s suffering for hours and hours and I’m oblivious at work? As CHF progresses it will be more trips to the vet (hopefully not the emergency vet!) and increase in meds which means more thirst, urination, lethargy, weight loss….is that really quality of life for my doggy soul mate?? I don’t know. Guess I’ll know more in the morning. But now just reminding myself to not redefine what a “good day” is (in terms of Eli’s days) and his quality of life, not unfortunately longevity, is what matters most. Hard to not use those interchangeably…

    • Sue Huss says:

      I’m sorry Eli is doing so bad. When Precious started coughing non stop during the day, that was when I decided it was just too much for her. It’s so hard to make that decision so I hope you have the strength to make yours since it sounds like you’ve done so much for Eli already.

  • Shirley Hart says:

    Thanks for your reply Sue, and you may be right – It might be time to let her go which breaks my heart, but I can tell she has trouble breathing some days. She might have a day or so of not coughing most of the day, but then the next day she is right back to it. She is worse when she is around me because she is so attached to me and gets more excited when I talk to her, etc. I just told my husband today that by the time her next refill is due on her meds., (she has been taking these meds for about 2 years) that if she is still coughing and kinda gasping for air at times, that I am going to have to make that decision. Thanks for your post, it lets us know we are not alone in this.

  • Shirley Hart says:

    I meant to check the box to notify me of follow up and forgot so that is the reason for this post!

    • Shirley Hart says:

      Gosh, thanks Allison for the report on your dog. I know that dog food that we buy is bad, I try to buy the organic – natural stuff – but you never know. I am going to try making her food and the supplements you talked about. She is so sweet and gentle to everyone, she is a perfect little yorkie – she holds her ears up and she is very tiny (Which I think might have been her downfall – being so small). She is not doing well at all the last couple of days — coughing, etc. I am going back to your post and look at those cooking ideas and see what I can do. Glad your little doggie is doing well and congrats on going to medical school – sounds like you will be the type of Dr. that we need. Maybe you should become a vet., yep you would be great. Thank you very much for your concern. Shirley

  • Karen says:

    Sue I read your article with tears in my eyes-I have a 13 year Boston that is my old girl and I love her so much. It started with a cough and off to the vet we went. He tells me she has a heart murmur and put her on benzapril for the murmur and furosemide for the fluid build up-she has been on it for about a week now and the cough seems to be worse not better-I am off to the vet again tomo-I am going to have him xray her heart and some other things to cover my basis-I do know that this is the start of end which according to him is still 3 to 4 years but I feel so helpless and like I am not doing enough to make her comfortable-Thanks for this article I am glad I found it

    • Sue Huss says:

      Hi Karen, I feel your pain I hope you can have a little longer cough-free time with your girl. I know every case is different but I think maybe your vet is stretching the facts a little when he says that the end is 3 or 4 years away. That would make her 17 years old which is usually the age that healthy small dogs live until. I’m not saying this to upset you but only so you don’t end up thinking you did something wrong.

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