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My 6 year old Doberman has been diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. I was up with him all night Sunday and took him to the vet yesterday morning. His symptoms before taking him to the vet were, coughing, gagging, breathing rapidly (55 to 70) breathes per minute, he had collapsed a few times and then would seem fine. I really didn't think he was gonna make it thru the night. So i just laid with him and loved on him. HE seemed to b more comfortable while he was standing. He would stand in front of me with his head in my lap. A few times he would just pace around the living room and stop and stare off into space.

He had some health problems when he was 2 years old. I had waited to get him fixed until he was 2 bc I wanted him to get his testosterone and natural instincts. Anyway, he had a retained testicle and they had to do surgery around his stomach to remove it. They had him on several medications after that. Within two weeks he was sick having symptoms of vomiting a green clear fluid, wasn't eating, weakness, lethargy. Took him to the vet and they kept him over the weekend to make sure he was getting his fluids. They couldn't find what was wrong. Took him to a specialist vet to have an ultrasound done and they couldn't see anything. So we scheduled surgery not knowing what they would find. It ending up being a ulcer that had ate thru his intestines in the area of where the intestines run into the stomach. Everything went fine with surgery and he was hospitalized for seven days. I kinda think it was due to the medicine the vet gave him not agreeing with his system. No problems until now. 4 years later.

When we arrived at the vet yesterday morning he seemed ok. i could tell he didn't feel good but he was still pulling leash to sniff around the yard at the vet and wagging his tail. Vet first done a test for heart worms which came back negative. He listened to his heart and lungs. Said he could hear a heart mumur and fluid surrounding his heart and fluid in his lungs. The vet put him on the medications: Vetmedin 5mg tablets twice every 12 hrs, SalixTabs 50mg 2 tablets every 12 hrs, Enalapril 10 mg tablets every 12 hrs. Just to note I called the vet this am and told him that he wasn't eating or moving much. All he was doing was sleeping. So he lowered the dosage on the Enalapril to just one tablet once daily. Now since he has been on the medicine his coughing has stopped, he may cough occasionally but not anywhere near as bad as he was. His appetite hasn't been good but I put some juice from cat food on his food and he ate this am. Vet said it could be 2 weeks before we seen an improvement. (If anyone knows why it would take that long please explain). Right now I'm scared to let him do much of anything cuz I don't want him getting worked up. The most he has tried to do is bark, I'm just trying to avoid it if possible.

I expressed to the vet that money was tight, so he recommended not to do an X-ray considering he was pretty sure it was CHF and he would rather me spend the money on the meds. The vet also explained to me that normally in cases like this the dog will just fall over dead. :( Or if the medicine works he could live 6 months to a year. He said the X-rays or an ultrasound would only tell us how severe it is. But the end result won't change.

I came here to vent, and to ask if anyone else has been thru this with their dobie or another dog. He seems to young to have this problem. I've know ppl that have had dobies all their lives and never had one have CHF. One symptom the dr acted like wasn't important was his really bad breath. I had read somewhere that bad breath could cause bacterial infection in the heart. Is there anything I can do at home for that?

If you have experienced this with your dog please tell me what to expect.

I love my dog dearly and I don't want to have to put him down. I also don't want him in any pain.

I really need to talk to ppl that understand this. My husband doesn't really understand. He is just worried about me and what I'm going thru. I'm worried about Harley!!
 

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I hope there's nothing to the bad breath thing because my 2yr olds is pretty bad.

There are lots of people on this board who have been in your shoes and I'm sure you'll hear from them soon. I just lost a male who was one week shy of his 5th birthday. I hope the meds will give your boy a good quality of life. I hear it's not unusual for them to go off their food with the meds. Hopefully, they will kick in and he will feel better.
 

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Unfortunately this is an all too common problem in this breed. I don't have any personal experiences but I'm sure that those who do will chime in and share theirs. I'm sorry you are going through this and you've found the right place for people to lean on during this awful time.
 

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Very sorry to hear about your dobe.

As far as the bad breath...it could stem from dental issues, like plaque/tartar buildup. I've also read about dental bacteria affecting dogs with heart issues.
 

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I don't think I can tell you what exactly to expect.

Each case of CHF is somewhat unique. My boy was almost 11. Had a murmur for a few years and was also on vetmedin, lasix and enalapril. He did really well on that combo of meds for a solid year. Then one night he went into a-fib. He heart rate was 240-ish. We took him to the after hours cardiologist where they did their best to stabilize him and added diltiazem. He was discharged the next day with a heart rate in the 160's but they thought he was stressed and it may improve at home.

4 days later he bloated and torsed. The cardiologist just didn't think his heart could withstand the anesthesia necessary for surgery to treat him. He was euthanized and I was beyond devastated.

Many people in the doberman world have had dogs that just dropped dead in the lawn one day. It's referred to as sudden death. I've never experienced it, but I have been told that many would prefer a sudden death episode to a gradual CHF decline and eventual euthanasia. I don't think it's easy either way.

My advice to you, give the meds a chance. I would also consult a cardiologist. Some dogs live for quite some time after starting treatment while others don't. He will likely feel better/rest easier when the Lasix (SalixTabs) kick in and drain some of the fluid from his lungs. My dog also was remarkably better after the Vetmedin kicked in as well.

Overall, CHF/DCM is a crapshoot. What works for some doesn't always work the same for another. The meds your vet provided are what many of us have used to treat our own dogs. Make each moment you have with him count and make it special, that's the best advice I can give.
 

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Very sorry to hear about your dobe.

As far as the bad breath...it could stem from dental issues, like plaque/tartar buildup. I've also read about dental bacteria affecting dogs with heart issues.
I have a heart valve issue myself and dental bacteria is downright DANGEROUS. I have to take antibiotics before I visit the dentist.

How were his teeth?
 

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I've not had to deal with this issue as yet, but you have my deepest sympathy at having to deal with such a terrible disease. Just love your boy and enjoy every day with him. Hopefully those experienced with this can chime in.
 

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Vet said it could be 2 weeks before we seen an improvement. (If anyone knows why it would take that long please explain). Right now I'm scared to let him do much of anything cuz I don't want him getting worked up. The most he has tried to do is bark, I'm just trying to avoid it if possible.

I expressed to the vet that money was tight, so he recommended not to do an X-ray considering he was pretty sure it was CHF and he would rather me spend the money on the meds. The vet also explained to me that normally in cases like this the dog will just fall over dead. :( Or if the medicine works he could live 6 months to a year. He said the X-rays or an ultrasound would only tell us how severe it is. But the end result won't change.

I came here to vent, and to ask if anyone else has been thru this with their dobie or another dog. He seems to young to have this problem. I've know ppl that have had dobies all their lives and never had one have CHF. One symptom the dr acted like wasn't important was his really bad breath. I had read somewhere that bad breath could cause bacterial infection in the heart. Is there anything I can do at home for that?

If you have experienced this with your dog please tell me what to expect.

I love my dog dearly and I don't want to have to put him down. I also don't want him in any pain.

I really need to talk to ppl that understand this. My husband doesn't really understand. He is just worried about me and what I'm going thru. I'm worried about Harley!!
Actually your boy is right about the average age to be diagnosed with DCM, dilated cardiomyopathy, the average age is 7. That's almost certainly what his primary disease is, congestive heart failure is a symptom not a disease.

A minimum of 50% of all dobermans will develop this disease, so you're definitely not alone. I''ve lost more than one dog to DCM. It's a terrible, terrible disease. Unfortunately it's ALWAYS fatal, there is no cure. All we can do is try to slow down the progression of the disease. Don't mean to scare you, but the life expectancy after a dog goes into CHF is pretty bad-the average being 6 months. I had one dog who lived exactly 7 days after the DCM/CHF diagnosis.

I really doubt his bad breath has anything to do with the DCM.

My personal experience has been once you get dogs on the correct meds they start feeling better pretty quickly-like within 48 hours. However, I never relied on lasix pills to dry the lungs out-the dogs were hospitalized, given lasix via IV, and not released until they were stable.

Vetmedin definitely will perk dogs up really quickly.

It really *is* better to see a cardiologist if at all possible. DCM is a complex disease, and a GP vet has neither the equipment nor the training to deal with it.

Sudden death IS the more kind death from DCM. While it's a total shock to the owner, it's far less painful and scary to the dog than the end stages of congestive heart failure.

Treasure every day, and I'm sorry to hear this.
 

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I am so very sorry you found this forum under these circumstances. Unfortunately, like Murreydobe stated, DCM is all too common in this breed. It is a horrible disease that has taken far too many young Dobes. Also like MD suggested, it would be better, if at all possible for you to have him seen by a cardiologist. My thoughts are with you and treasure each and every moment with your guy.
 

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So sorry to hear your boy has CHF.
 

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I just want to say I'm sorry. Sending you good vibes to get through whats coming. Please take what ever time you have left with your beautiful boy and live each and every moment to the fullest. I lost my Petey on August 14th at 4 years, 9 months old to DCM. He was diagnosed at 3, medicated and died suddenly.
 

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So sorry , Sadly I've been through it as well. But My boy was caught very early and got almost 3yrs He lived 18mths after CHF started but again he was caught early and started on the right meds plus supplements .. His time was very happy never knowing he was sick until the day I let him go. He was my heart and soul (still is) Sadly started on meds in the CHF stage will only give a few months at best.
Start your boy on CoQ10 200mg a day That will help keep his heart stronger as well as 2000 mg of fish oils that will help with arrhythmia's ..I also would limit the amount of running. Let him enjoy his life but within reason.
Enjoy your time with him , love him alot thats what he wants most ;-)
My thoughts are with you both.
 

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I am very sorry t hear that you and your boy are dealing with this.

Could someone please give me the study that shows 50% will get cardio?? Thanks
 

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It is very heartbreaking to go through...I'm so very sorry.

I have a nearly 8 year old Doberman who was diagnosed with DCM in January. We had a few days in the beginning before the meds kicked in that had me worried, and he went in to atrial fibrillation in February but came out of it about a week later with the help of some meds, but other than those few times he's been his happy, wild, silly self and life in his world has been grand. We still go for our daily walks and he still runs and plays with the other dogs, and goes about his business as normal.

Harper is on Pimo/Vetmedin, Lasix, Enalapril, Spironolactone & mexiletine, and he also gets a slew of supplements twice daily to help support his heart...CoQ10, Magnesium Aspertate, L-Carnitine, Taurine, Vit E, B Complex and high doses of Omega 3's.

The meds along with the supplements have given him excellent quality of life which I am extremely grateful for. I don't know how long we'll have together but we enjoy each and every day to its fullest and treat each day as if they could be our last together.

If you can get in to a cardiologist I would highly recommend it.

Best of luck to you and your boy♥
 

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I am very sorry t hear that you and your boy are dealing with this.

Could someone please give me the study that shows 50% will get cardio?? Thanks
Here is one set of stats from the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph (scroll down the page):

General Information About Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Doberman Pinschers

Note that the writer specifies "in our area," though I believe I've read similar figures elsewhere.

To the OP and Harper, best wishes. I'm sure that you will give him the best life possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks to everyone that responded! He's doing pretty good today, the best he has done all week. He's a fighter!! My husband has actually let him sleep in our king size bed with us. That never happens. He's been wagging his little nub and wanting attention. He's been eating good as long as I drizzle some cat food juice over his food.

The vet has me bringing him back next Sat. to see how the medicine is working.

A few of you recommended for me to go to a cardio vet. what kind of tests will they do? I'm not trying to sound selfish but money is tight right now and can't afford a whole lot. The last visit was almost $300. from what the vet said I will have to take him every two weeks. So I'm gonna be struggling to pay for those vet visits and his meds.

Also the supplements that a few mentioned...where can I get those? Do I have to get them from the vet? Do i need to ok it with the vet?

The bad breath issue has me worried bc last night i was giving him his medicine in pill pockets and he tried taking it but it seemed like he couldn't get his mouth open to do it. So i tried opening his mouth and he yelped. I eventually got him to take his meds but I'm a little concerned. On one side of his face below his eye it is a little puffy. That eye has been red and irritated. I know I should tell the vet but if the tooth is bad or abscessed he wouldnt be able to do anything about it anyway. I wouldn't wanna take the chance of having him put under with his condition. But could I get the vet to give antibiotics? Would that help? Is there anything else I could do?

I really appreciate all the kind words from everyone!! I know this is something that no dog owner wants to go thru or has prepared for.

Another thing I was curious about, the vet put him on a low sodium diet. Science diet. He turns his nose up to it. I have been putting some juice from cat food on it to get him to eat it. Will that hurt him if I keep doing that? Its just enough to drizzle over top to get him to eat it.
 

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Doberman CHF

I am so sorry; I do understand. My 6 year old dobe girl was diagnosed last year, and went into CHF in October. It was very scary and much as you described . . but once she got on the meds she perked right up and now appears completely normal. The Vetmedin is really a wonder drug; within a day she went from gagging uncontrollably and unable to walk, to almost normal. It did take a week or so to stabilze totally with the Lasix etc, so dont' lose hope.

She is also on a low sodium food, but it's Go Natural, and I feed canned tripe on top. She never really lost her appetite, but I know that's very common.

Daisy is just past the 6 month mark, and doing great. We don't restrict her activity, we let her do whatever she wants. She runs 10K every weekend! The only thing I found hard to manage was the Lasix-induced peeing, but that's now under control. She is never left alone anymore; I am terrified something will happen and nobody will be around.

Take video, take pictures, extra hugs and ear rubs. It's all we can do to help them and help ourselves. If we get another 6 months with Daisy I will be thrilled, but every day she is happy we are so thankful for.
 

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Glad he is feeling better. A good cardiologist that works with Dobes is worth his weight in gold. If you have the funds and acess to one I'd go. I'd speak to my regular vet about the puffy face and have him check his teeth, or look for a sinus infection. He can certainally be on antibiotics while on meds. your vet can make sure that the meds are compatable. My Petey was on 7 different heart medications 2x each day and I put his pills in ground meat, he would gobble them up. I'd also look into feeding Harley something he likes, it can get really hard to keep a dog in CHF eating. Can you cook for him? Maybe try and feed boiled ground turkey and rice or something like that, it's low salt and soft so it won't hurt his teeth. That has always been my go to meal with sick dogs. I think if you get him stablized, I'd worry more about him having quality time vs. quanity time, I'd do everything in my power to make sure he was loving his meals, and enjoying each day he has left. I've lost 3 dogs in the last 5+ years, cancer, epilepsy and DCM. All had quality time right to the last day. Dogs don't care about tomorrow....they only care about the moment. Continued good vibes going out to Harley and your family.
 

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Also the supplements that a few mentioned...where can I get those? Do I have to get them from the vet? Do i need to ok it with the vet?

The supplements I give to Harper are to help support the heart. They were recommended to me by some folks on another Doberman list, and my cardiologist gave her seal of approval as well. Most of the supplements are not all that expensive, but the L-Carnitine is pricey, especially at the dose I give (4000mgs a day). I purchase everything through iherb.com and have used them for years. If you would like information as to brands and amounts I'd be happy to share them with you.
 
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