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.
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