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View Full Version : When to put down 11 year old dog with CHF?



horseowner40
Dec. 13, 2009, 05:10 PM
My dog Bo, a brittany spaniel became exercise intolerent in March, we found out that he has CHF and put him on Meds, he lives inside now laying around the fireplace and is very happy to walk on a leash to visit the horse and do his business, the problem is when he gets excited he falls limp, no pain just falls over and it takes a few minutes for him to get back on his feet, I cannot let him off the leash any longer because of him falling over limp, he does not pass out, it is really hard to explain other than he goes limp! He has a happy life other than this, and looks happy, he coughs quite a bit and spits up fluid also. The vet told me in March that most dogs would not live more than 2 months in his condition, but on a leash he can walk without falling. I do have a new problem with him now, since we have snow on the ground his feet are tender, and he stops every few feet to lick the ice out of his paws. Right now he is laying on his bed, he eats his food while laying down, and every now and then he can play with me, I have had him since he was 6 weeks old. What would you guys do with a happy dying dog, should I let him go naturally or put him down, sometimes I think I should put him down, but then he seems so happy and loves to go to the barn for his walk. Please give your honest advice...:(

Guin
Dec. 13, 2009, 05:28 PM
What is CHF? I've never heard of it.

Serendipity
Dec. 13, 2009, 05:37 PM
As long as he is happy, then don't put him down. You know him well, and you will also know when he is no longer happy - at that point, you can make the decision about whether to take him in to the vet, or not.

I went through the same mental debate recently with my senior diabetic cat, and as it turned out the decision (in our case we did take him into the vet) was a no-brainer at the end. When the time comes, you will do what is right for both your dog and for you.

Buffyblue
Dec. 13, 2009, 05:55 PM
My agility trainer's older dog was diagnosed with CHF a couple of months ago. She had to take her back for an adjustment in her medication (they upped the dose) and she's doing great! Speak to your vet about his condition and ask about adjusting the medication.

horseowner40
Dec. 13, 2009, 05:58 PM
If he is happy and the meds keep him pain free, and his presence makes you happy, then by all means keep him until Mother Nature puts her arms around him and takes him to the next level of existence.

In the meantime, order some sled dog booties on the internet. Or get little infant baby socks to put on his feet. It will keep the snow from balling up, and he'll be much happier walking with you through the snow to the barn.

Hugs, and good luck to you and your sweet spaniel.

I never thought of booties, what a great idea!:) I will be ordering those tonight. Thanks a million for the idea.:)

horseowner40
Dec. 13, 2009, 06:00 PM
What is CHF? I've never heard of it.

Congestive Heart Failure, just like a human, he does not get enough oxygen to his brain and he falls over, not painful, but looks really bad.:)

thatmoody
Dec. 13, 2009, 06:05 PM
Ask your vet about adjusting his meds - our chihuahua has had this for a few years, and has been through several med changes. She is monitored (ekg and echocardiogram) a couple of times a year and her dosage of enalapril, lasix, and theophylline are adjusted every few months. She is doing quite well, and has certainly outlived the vet's prognosis. It's not a painful condition, although it can be distressing for both the dog and the owner.

She can still trot out to the barn, although she's not going out in the pasture as much - she can't really chase rats like our younger dog but she can alert him that they're there. She was a MUCH better ratter than he is, but she's still teaching him...

She's 16, by the way...

53
Dec. 13, 2009, 06:10 PM
I have an old dog who is having some difficulties and I have decided that as long as he's happy and his quality of life is good I will wait, even though it means management and effort to help him through the day.

Watermark Farm
Dec. 15, 2009, 01:51 PM
I lost my 11 year old Aussie mix to CHF. I agree with others to talk to your vet about adding or adjusting meds. We did a lot of tweaking over the 2 years my dog was medicated.

I knew when it was time to put him down when the light had left his eyes, it was very difficult to get him to eat anything, and he was getting very thin. He started coughing a lot and his condition progressed beyond what meds could do. He wasn't having fun anymore. You will know when it's time.

On another note....I lost my goat to congestive heart failure earlier this year. He dropped dead 12 hours after getting his first dose of diuretic. Obviously, the fluid was holding his heart together. I sat with the vet during the necropsy. When he got to the heart, it was gray and very diseased looking and simply fell into a million tiny pieces in his hands. It was amazing that it had worked for as long as it had. Gave me a new appreciation for heart issues and what you are up against. The body adjusts and adjusts until it cannot make up for the failing heart any longer.

EponaRoan
Dec. 15, 2009, 04:25 PM
The coughing up of fluid concerns me - doesn't your vet have him on lasix or something similar for that?

I had a Bulldog who lived to be almost 16. I think he was around 13 when he developed some heart problems. A treatment of lasix and then regular doses of heart meds (I think enacard) kept him pretty active up until the last year. (In retrospect, I should have euthed earlier once he got to the point where he couldn't get himself up, but he was still eating, etc, so ... )

More on enacard:

http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&C=31&A=535&S=0

horseowner40
Dec. 15, 2009, 04:38 PM
The coughing up of fluid concerns me - doesn't your vet have him on lasix or something similar for that?

I had a Bulldog who lived to be almost 16. I think he was around 13 when he developed some heart problems. A treatment of lasix and then regular doses of heart meds (I think enacard) kept him pretty active up until the last year. (In retrospect, I should have euthed earlier once he got to the point where he couldn't get himself up, but he was still eating, etc, so ... )

More on enacard:

http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&C=31&A=535&S=0

Hi, he is on lasix 2 times a day and vetemin twice daily, the vet will not increase his dosage, so I guess i am doing all i can, but lately i have been wandering if he is hurting, or sad, i just love him so much and i want to do the right thing..

onlyanarabian
Dec. 15, 2009, 05:01 PM
Sorry about your dog:no:

My BO's dog just passed away before Thanksgiving of CHF, I was the one who took him to the vet when he was diagnosed. He was a happy dog all the way until the end the day before his passing he was jumping all over me. The next morning BO called to let me know that he had passed sometime during the night. He looked as if he passed in his sleep in front of the fireplace.

The vet had just upped his lasix days before his passing. He was also 11 and like I said he was happy until the end.

eventing-n-SD
Dec. 15, 2009, 08:16 PM
I'm sorry about your dog, horseowner. I know exactly what you are going through. We are walking the same path right now. I wrote a letter to my boy just this year: http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?t=224198

My boy is still with me, but I've been struggling with feeling confident about knowing "when". He's on lasix, enalapril and pimobendan, which have helped. He had a great day yesterday, playing with a new fleece toy I got him (and by playing I mean carrying it around in his mouth), wagging his little aussie stump and smiling. But then he had a horrible night, a lot of hacking, gagging, pacing....much worse than usual.

With happy days like yesterday, it just makes me wonder and doubt that it's time. He's falling down more often lately like your dog.

*BIG sigh* I wish the answers were easy!!!! All I have for you is a lot hug sympathy and hugs. I wish you and your dog the best.

horseowner40
Dec. 15, 2009, 08:23 PM
I'm sorry about your dog, horseowner. I know exactly what you are going through. We are walking the same path right now. I wrote a letter to my boy just this year: http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?t=224198

My boy is still with me, but I've been struggling with feeling confident about knowing "when". He's on lasix, enalapril and pimobendan, which have helped. He had a great day yesterday, playing with a new fleece toy I got him (and by playing I mean carrying it around in his mouth), wagging his little aussie stump and smiling. But then he had a horrible night, a lot of hacking, gagging, pacing....much worse than usual.

With happy days like yesterday, it just makes me wonder and doubt that it's time. He's falling down more often lately like your dog.

*BIG sigh* I wish the answers were easy!!!! All I have for you is a lot hug sympathy and hugs. I wish you and your dog the best.

Thank you, hugs back at you. I am sorry that you are going through this as well. It is hard when they still look happy, but then they fall over, then they get up and everything is ok again. I am too close to my animal's I think, it hurt's way too much. I worry about them as if they were my children. If you ever need to talk please send me a message, I will be here for you. I am thinking of you and your guy...:)

philosoraptor
Dec. 15, 2009, 08:50 PM
It's a hard decision. As you know, CHF can't be fixed, just managed. Diuretics such as lasix can help by managing fluid backup.

When he gets worse and his left side fails more, pulmonary edema will probably appear -- which will be evidenced by shortness of breath. He may pant hard even when just laying around. My parents just had their older black lab euthanized last month when it she got so short of breath she couldn't be comfortable just laying around.

It's all about quality of life. If he's starting to ignore food or if he's restless, panting all the time, or having problems with general edema, those might be signs it's time. Based on what I've seen with the nursing home (human) patients in CHF, they don't seem to be "suffering". They'll complain about being tired or short of breath, but it's not agonizing for them.

bf1
Dec. 16, 2009, 07:03 AM
I had a boxer with CHF. I was within days of putting her down when she died one night. She was filled with fluid, and beginning to pant, but still "there". I was happy she died at home, altho she did love to visit the vet! But it was easier on me. She had been having fainting spells - her heart would just stop - and then restart - and then it just didn't restart.....RIP Maggie - I so loved you.

Tiki
Dec. 16, 2009, 09:42 AM
CHF is congestive heart failure. The heart is no longer able to work hard enough to pump blood around the system. The brain doesn't get enough oxygen and the lungs fill with fluid (thus the congestive part of the name). The dog will cough, especially with the effort of trying to rise from lying down, or any exertion. It becomes very difficult for him to breathe. He could easily develop pneumonia. In human's, it's called the old man's friend. He could go into a coma and die.

I had my Afghan Hound put down at almost 15 years of age for this. He was having difficulty getting up from rest, his winter hair coat didn't come in that year and he had to wear a coat and he was starting to have difficulty jumping back up onto the back deck form the yard (only about 8-10 inches), so I brought him in. His circulation was soooo slow from the CHF that even then it took a while for the euthanasia drug to work on him. I held him in my arms until he passed quietly and at peace.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for these guys is give them the dignity of a peaceful death.

Don't know what your guy is on for meds, but humans go on digoxin to strengthen the contractions of the heart and a diuretic to lessen the load on the heart. It can still be frightening when it's hard to breathe.

As has been said many times, one day early is better than 2 weeks too late. Just because he doesn't seem to be in pain doesn't mean he's not uncomfortable. The coughing due to the congestion and having difficulty breathing may not be painful, but they may be very frightening to him. Look at the whole picture and make your decision, whether it's not or later, but not too late.

vita_impavida
Dec. 18, 2009, 11:59 AM
I had an older mixed breed that ended up with mild CHF. We put her on meds, and watched her diet and fluid intake. Just as with people it is a fine line to keep them hydrated, but not overly so. A small step to help. I cant remember the diet change we did, but I know NO salt! You dont want to encourage the body to hold any more fluids than it needs.

It sounds like your dogs case is more severe, I dont understand AT ALL why your vet wont increase his meds, or try something else. If your guys caughing fluid up... then he isnt controlled as well as he could be. If he was a person hed practically be in ICU for constant monitoring. Maybe youd want to talk to another vet for a second opinion. There is nothing wrong with a second opinion.

For his feet, I would try socks. or booties they make for dogs. He may walk all sorts of funny at first though. :D

With my girl I was told pick out her 3 favorite things in life. Most dogs its food, people and a specific toy. When you notice they show no interest in those things, thats when you should consider "quality of life". We actually lost her to something else entirely at the age of 17.

Older animals, just like people require extra care, some more so than theres. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as they are happy. As many people said, this condition isnt painful, just more scarey for us and them.

Best of luck!!!! Keep us posted on how your guy does!!

Kaleigh007
Dec. 18, 2009, 02:04 PM
My Benji clone dog Ernie was diagnosed with CHF when he was 10. He was on digoxin and lasix and had a good quality of life for 2 more years. He went to a animal cardiologist which I would suggest if you already have not done so, as they are better equipped to offer drug suggestions that will prolong life. Ernie just woke up one morning struggling to breathe and I knew it was time. Up to that point he went to the barn everyday and enjoyed life. Good luck with your boy.