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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-06-2019, 03:00 PM Thread Starter
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DCM questions...looking for experience

My girl has a heart murmur she just turned 7. My vet took some exrays and said her heart looked enlarged and round. He suggested to have an EKG and 2 other tests. He offered me medicine for her which i did not take.
My questions are what will these tests show? Should i just start her on meds? What meds? Whats your experience?
Thank uou for your help
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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-06-2019, 03:18 PM
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Hold tight ...others will chime in real soon.

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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-06-2019, 03:30 PM
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If she is having irregular heart beat rhythms, like skipped or extra beats, then it will show up on the EKG. A 24 hour EKG is usually called a holter test.

Is one of the other tests an ultrasound? That will show the heart working in real time, and the technician will be able to take measurements of the heart.

Medication can help stabilize irregular heart rhythms and help remove and fluid that might be accumulating around her heart and lungs. Catching cardio problems early, and then properly medicating for it can add significant time and improve quality of life.


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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-06-2019, 03:31 PM
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You definitely need a firm diagnosis of exactly what is going on, as soon as you can. A vet cardiologist would be the best place to go, rather than your regular vet. If cost is an option, you may be able to go to a vet school for diagnosis at lesser cost. You can also call your local dobe chapter for information about where to get testing near you. Sometimes, once you get a diagnosis and a game-plan for treatment, your regular vet can take over, in consultation with the cardiologist.

A sonogram and a 24 hour Holter (EKG) are standard for diagnosis. Many people even run these tests once a year, on their older dogs especially, just so they can catch a developing heart problem before there are actually symptoms, because the earlier you start your dog on meds, the better.

DCM of course, can show up suddenly where your first sign that the dog had a problem is a sudden death. But it can also be also treated to some extent, and medication can extend the dog's life significantly, and make him more comfortable too.

There are a number of different meds depending on what kinds of symptoms are showing up, from medications to help the heart beat more regularly and efficiently, to meds which help the dog get rid of excess fluids that have built up because a dog's heart is just too enlarged to really work effectively. Unfortunately, many of the meds are expensive--ordering them from online vet pharmacies is often a bit cheaper than a vet can afford to charge---if you get to the point of medicating long term to keep your dog stable, ask here for recommendations for a good place to order from.

Last edited by melbrod; 12-06-2019 at 04:05 PM.
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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-06-2019, 03:45 PM
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If it were me I would get to a cardiologist immediately.
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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-06-2019, 04:12 PM
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Vet cardiologist for a Cardiac Ultrasound - which can diagnose an enlarged heart: DCM AND a 24 Holter Monitor - which is a 24 hour EKG. I would imagine that meds will be recommended. If the DCM is not very advanced, and there are not a bunch of irregular heartbeats, you may be able to extend your dogs life for a decent amount of time..... could be years.

The tests are not cheap, but sometimes you can find cardio clinics for the ultrasound for a reduced price. Where are you located?
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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-06-2019, 04:36 PM Thread Starter
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Im in torrington ct 06790
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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-06-2019, 07:01 PM
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What Fitzmar said ^^^^ .

Our boy Butcher was diagnosed with DCM after a V-tach episode that almost killed him.
This tentative diagnosis was confirmed by a 24 Hr Holter monitoring and an Echocardiogram (a realtime ultrasound of the heart). They are the two most reliable tools used in this type of diagnosis.

He was treated with heart medication and a very sightly modified exercise regime. He ended up living for several more years to basically an average lifespan for a Doberman.

My current youngest (5 yo) is scheduled for a full cardio workup coming up shortly.

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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-06-2019, 07:44 PM
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I would also be making an appointment with a veterinary cardiologist immediately.
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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-06-2019, 09:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin Elander View Post
Im in torrington ct 06790
Hi, Justin. I'm in Burlington, not far from you. If you don't mind driving to South Deerfield (Massachusetts), you could bring her to see Dr. Nancy Morris at V.E.S.H. - she's my dog's cardiologist and she's FANTASTIC! Their phone number is 413-665-4911 and, like others suggested, it's very important to get a diagnosis and treatment ASAP!
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post #11 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-06-2019, 09:36 PM
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There ya go!
Cardiologist is the way to go for sure. We just went several months ago.
Nothing better than a true diagnosis ...this will allow you to structure a solid plan on how to deal with the condition.
With meds and the science available now there is hope so just get to cardio pronto!
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post #12 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-06-2019, 09:44 PM
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Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dobermans

Here are some of the basics About this disease that you might find helpful.
Study carefully and then you will have a better experience when you go to the specialist.
Through knowledge of the disease and the common treatments/tests you will have a better understanding of what they are talking about during your consultations. This I believe is from 2014 so I am sure there are more articles that are more recent but start studying.
Do not be afraid .....study.......there are treatments available that will extend life.
Wishing the best things for you!
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post #13 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-07-2019, 02:11 PM
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Vet cardiologist first--I'm a little concerned that your vet says that the heart looks enlarged on X-ray (which isn't necessarily the best way to determine if the hear IS actually enlarged). And a heart murmur may or may not be related to DCM.

The best way to determine cardio and it's stage in a Doberman is if you have regular echo's and Holters done--that gives you a progress so you can see if the heart is changing, enlarging and the Holter give you information about electrical activity.

You've got great information in this thread, including a vet cardiologist that is reasonably close (and has done quite of lot of work with Dobermans and cardio).

Good luck--early diagnosis and treatment really makes a difference--I've had several Dobermans who had DCM but it wasn't what they actually died from because they were doing well on medications which controlled the disease pretty well. Then something else came along that couldn't be successfully treated. The kind thing to do, sometimes is to let them go easily by euthanasia.

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post #14 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-07-2019, 02:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dobebug View Post

Good luck--early diagnosis and treatment really makes a difference--I've had several Dobermans who had DCM but it wasn't what they actually died from because they were doing well on medications which controlled the disease pretty well. Then something else came along that couldn't be successfully treated. The kind thing to do, sometimes is to let them go easily by euthanasia.

dobebug

I had the same experience with Bacchus. He had been diagnosed at 9 1/2 with DCM and was on meds. The disease was responding well to the meds but an injury that could not be treated was the reason I lost him. We all know that DCM that is being managed with cardio checks and meds can suddenly kick in and you lose your friend but the meds can give more quality time for both of you.
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post #15 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-07-2019, 07:14 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the advice. I have been in contact with her rescue (DRU) they might help with some of the bill. I might use there vet in Massachusetts. But i will contact the vet suggested in this thread as well. My current appointment is on jan. 16th. Possibility she can get a sooner appointment.
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post #16 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-07-2019, 07:20 PM Thread Starter
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post #17 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 08:27 AM
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Everyone else said it all. But, yes get her to the cardiologist and get her echoed and holtered and on meds as soon as possible.
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post #18 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 03:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin Elander View Post
My girl has a heart murmur she just turned 7. My vet took some exrays and said her heart looked enlarged and round. He suggested to have an EKG and 2 other tests. He offered me medicine for her which i did not take.
My questions are what will these tests show? Should i just start her on meds? What meds? Whats your experience?
This post kind of strikes a chord with me.

We have a "puppy" out in New Brunswick - he's actually almost 11 1/2 years old now. His vet was telling his owner the same thing, essentially - that his heart looked enlarged on x-ray, and that he had a murmur. That vet did actually prescribe Fortekor for him, which is supposed to slow the progression of heart disease in dogs.

I had sent my Holter out to the owner last year and this year, and those results were ok. He did have some VPCs but that was just something else that set off his regular vet, when I knew that the number was not alarming from my experiences with Holtering. I urged the owner to make an appointment with Dr. Lynne O'Sullivan who had been our cardiologist at the University of Guelph in Ontario who had moved out to PEI last year. I think it's about a 2 1/2 hour drive for them, which isn't out of this world (imo) to see a very qualified cardiologist, but I also told them that I completely understood if they thought the trip might be too much for Rusty at his age, or if they thought it would be too costly for them. Eventually, they decided to make the trip and he saw Dr. O'Sullivan last month.

So, Rusty, as it turned out, checked out well! Dr. O'Sullivan said the murmur was mitral (very slow to progress - I've been told in the past that the dog usually dies of something else before it really gets a chance to get them), and she didn't find his measurements to be enlarged via ultrasound. She said he didn't need the Fortekor at all, and took him off it.

I hope that you get as lucky with your girl. I just wanted to underscore that that is why a cardiologist is so important either way. They can make a more definitive diagnosis because that is their specialty. They will get accurate heart measurements that you can't get on x-ray. They can set your mind at ease, or unfortunately, give a diagnosis that is not what you want but gets the best treatments started to help the dog.
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post #19 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 03:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin Elander View Post
My girl has a heart murmur she just turned 7. My vet took some exrays and said her heart looked enlarged and round. He suggested to have an EKG and 2 other tests. He offered me medicine for her which i did not take.
My questions are what will these tests show? Should i just start her on meds? What meds? Whats your experience?
Thank uou for your help
Is the murmur a new development or just recently discovered? Or has she always had it?

I'm curious if something happened that motivated your vet to take x-rays. Fainting? Coughing? Labored breathing?



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post #20 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-11-2019, 11:39 AM
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Dcm

Hi guys! Sorry for no posting or pics in a LONG time, but as you know, life gets in the way. My precious child Squirrel, turned 7 on Oct 28th. About 3 years ago, she was diagnosed with Cushing's disease so she sees her primary vet and internal med vet quite often but still, DCM snuck up on us. Back in July, I noticed her breathing changed, became short and at night, labored. In the morning all seemed well. 2nd night, same thing but worse...I stayed up all night with my hand on her chest, praying she would make it till morning.
I took her to primary vet who thought it might be upper airway irritation...I begged him to take chest xray since he couldn't do the other tests and since I was convinced she had CHF and most likely from DCM. Sure enough, lungs full of fluid and a "slightly" enlarged, rounded heart: started on lasix and enalapril that day. She got a little better, breathing less labored but 2 week chest xray still had fluid so she got referral to cardio.
He (cardiologist) did all the tests and confirmed Mild DCM with CHF, 2/6 murmur but no arrhythmias, bp good, kidney labs good. He changed her lasix from 80 mg bid to tid, kept enalapril same, added spironolactone and vetmedin ...this was back in August. She went for 3 month f/u Nov 12th and lungs looked good, labs good, no arrhythmias. Next f/u is Feb 13th.
Unfortunately, after 3 years on same vetoryl, I just had to increase that from 40mg bid to 50 mg bid. She is also on proin , has been for years but it has kept her in the bed right next to me and without diapers!
Some people may say I am crazy for spending the amt of money on my dog but she is my child...I am a single fur mom who would do anything and everything to keep this dog next to me for as long as I can.
And if you saw the way she acts and runs like a bullet out her doggy door at a "real" squirrel in the backyard, you would never know she was sick!
How long will this give her? I don't know but I can tell you that her cardiology vet said if I hadn't taken her to my regular vet when I did, she wouldn't be with me...I'm crying just writing this...
Hope this helps you with your decision making process
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post #21 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-11-2019, 11:58 AM
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Both of the dobes I had who had DCM lived at least 2 years after their diagnoses, and in reasonable comfort too. One was put to sleep for other reasons; the other for DCM symptoms, but you wouldn't have even known they had it. The girl I put to sleep for DCM was reasonably vigorous and practically symptom free until her last night with us. I'm all in favor of the medications, as expensive as they are. They can prolong life for a long time, but additionally, I'm convinced, make the dog much more comfortable even if the disease progresses rapidly.
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post #22 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-12-2019, 11:19 AM
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We'd all love an update.


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Richter & Sypha
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& Sirai's Golden Masquerade ORT NW1 L1C L1V L1E L1I L2C L2I NW2 RATI SOG WAC
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post #23 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-12-2019, 02:38 PM
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Yeah, we would.

And since I'm here echoing MeadowCat--I'll go on to echo Melbrod as well--I recently lost my 14 year old Doberman. And I wouldn't regret any penny I spent on regular cardiologist visits, echo's, Holters and meds. And at that he was comfortable, active and did well for at least three years as we added Vetmedin to the benazepril--ultimately he was starting to have difficulty breathing (unrelated to cardio) and the morning he turned down breakfast we made that sad last trip to say goodbye--and one of our clinic vets (I still work there part time) who had known him since he was a puppy euthanized him.

And it's always helpful to hear the ongoing story of suspected cardio--you never know what may be of help to some other DT member.

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post #24 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-14-2019, 12:52 PM
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My 9YO was also diagnosed with DCM about 2 months ago, she collapsed twice and wasn't eating, when she did eat she would vomit immediately. We took her to the dog ER, the preliminary diagnosis after an x-ray was DCM. We took her to the cardiologist, they did ekg and x-ray to confirm the diagnosis. She had a murmur (which is now gone, after meds). After 2 months on meds(abit price, about $200.00 per month) she is doing great. I'm hoping for this course of treatment to extend her life for 2+ years (I'm an optimist). Best of luck, as others have said, a proper diagnosis from a cardiologist and meds are the way to go, sooner rather than later...best of luck!
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post #25 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-16-2019, 06:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the advice and support. We're still waiting for our appointment. Ive made one at 3 different cardiologists. I think we're going to see the one suggested above, ill cancel the others. All three had different prices for a consultation and echo. Jan. 23rd is the appointment. All has been well with Mollie no coughing, plenty of energy but she has started eating different, eating only half of her breakfast or dinner then eating the other half a couple of hours later, butstill eating it all.
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