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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am devastated to admit that CZ is dying of DCM. He received the diagnosis while I was out of town for business earlier this month. By the time I returned a little over a week ago, he was refusing to eat. I started force feeding him his meds - some I crushed up into liquid CoQ10 and squirted in the back of his mouth and some I wrapped up in melted gouda cheese and gave him like a pill. It has been over a week since he had a bowel movement and the vet checked his kidneys which are no better and no worse than before. My CZ was purchased from a good line as a pet. He had all the genetic testing and I had an echo at 1 year and 2 years old at my kennel club, where they perform various tests annually for a discounted price. This disease hit with no warning. When I left him, he was playing at his grandmas house with all his cousins and friends - dogs off all breeds and sizes. so when he suddenly started coughing, my husband thought he had caught a cold from the other dogs. I have been reading through these threads and have seen many people ask what is it like when a DCM dog doesn't die of a sudden heart attack and so I am posting to let you know how horrible the situation becomes. You force feed him blended concoctions of whatever he struggles less to eat and you clean up the rest off of your clothes and floors. Things like freeze dried chicken hearts, cheese, and fresh salmon wont tempt him anymore. He lays down all day except for the occasional times where he lifts his head and you take him outside. He might pee and he might just stare off into the woods like he is looking for a place to die. When you get him back inside, he lies down and his breathing is labored. You keep your hand on his chest in case he stops breathing so you can shake him awake. You and your spouse take turns staying up at night to watch over him. You scour through every thread about a miracle cure and begin juicing dandelion roots and looking for a local grower of things like Burdock. Nothing helps and in his eyes you can tell he is tired. You begin to feel like you are torturing your dog, but you cant watch him starve to death either. The cardiologist will charge you a few grand just to tell you things you already know. Your vet will prescribe you the meds and give you a card for the local euthanasia service that does house calls. Every day you that you wake up, you are thankful that your dog is still alive but then you are horrified thinking about all the things you have to put him thorough today. You start to hate your friend's dogs. You start to imagine where you will bury him and begin looking at coffins and gravestones online and then you hate yourself for being so pessimistic. I don't know if owners who have experienced sudden death of a dobie from DCM had it worse because they had no time to say goodbye or better because what I am going through now, I would not wish on my worst enemy. This disease turns strong men and women into people who weep in public. If anyone else has has experience regarding how much worse it gets - or if it ever gets better from here, please reply and let me hear. I could use some insight about what to expect. The vet says "could be days or could be years but the average is 6 months" and that was less than a month ago. He seems to be going downhill fast. How can I make him breath easier? The vet doesn't see anymore water on his lungs. Why wont he eat?
:crying:
 

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I've moved this post to a new thread so that you get a better response. I'm so sorry you are going through this. Is he really only 4 years old? My heart goes out to you.

Sadly, there are far too many people here who have been in your shoes.
 
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Hello mk
I am so sorry for what what you are going through. Our household has also dealt with DCM. In our case it was sudden death due to ventricular tachycardia,. Happy and active one moment... dead the next.

DCM in any form is a terrible affliction.

I'll thinking of you.

John
Portland OR
 

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So sorry that you are going through this with your pup.
My first Doberman Mafia passed away suddenly......he was 8 years old....at the time he was early stages of renal failure... my Vet kept telling me his heart would fail first.....it did ...suddenly.........1PM one afternoon was running back and forth greeting the mailman....2 hours later laying in his favorite spot under the oak tree gone.......glad I was off work that day...and was able to spend time with him before the final event. I still miss that boy so much....but after reading your thread today I realize Mafia's sudden departure was much better than what you are experiencing my Dobe friend. My thoughts are with you ....praying for you and your family .....peace be with you and your pup always.
 

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I am so sorry that you and CZ are having such a hard time of it. DCM, and for that matter any kind of cardio is no fun--and there are no good end stories--the bottom line is that cardio kills our dogs and often much before we are ready to see them go.

I got my first Doberman in 1959 and I've had many since then--realistically I've been pretty lucky with my dogs. All but one of them lived to at least 9 and several to nearly 10 and two of them were longevity dogs--one was over 10 and the dog now is 12 years and 7 months. We now count his life span by the month.

Even though most of my dogs have had cardio, most of them did not die from it. I took each in his turn to be euthanized for other reasons. My very first dog was euthanized because Lasix could no longer keep his lungs dry enough to function. Even though cardio itself is not painful some of the side affects make a dog feel aweful--congestive heart failure is one of them--is the vet treating your dog a cardiologist? If not you might want to have him seen by an actual specialist. Sometimes a specialist can give you more insights and answers than a general practice vet.

The fact that he is having so much difficulty breathing is not something I can even guess at. If that had occurred with any of my cardio Dobermans I'd have been talking to their cardiologist about it to see if they could medicate for it.

As far a not wanting to eat goes--some of this stems from how he feels. In some cases the medications themselves kill the appetite until a dog gets used to them. Your vet should be able to tell you which ones.

But he seems to be having more problem than any of my cardio boys have had.

As hard as this will be for you to hear I think you maybe do need to hear it. Most of our beloved pets are not going to outlive us. And many years ago I kept a pet of mine much too long--and that experience taught me something...sometimes the kindest thing you can do for a pet who is not doing well is to let them go. That may be your last best gift to your pet.

After that cat who I kept going too long I realized that I would never again keep any pet even a day too long. I'd rather send them off too early than keep them for even a day too long. So even though I HATE taking various of my cats or dogs to the vet to help them leave me--I do it when I see that look in their eye that says they are ready to go.

When the bad days are outnumbering the good days--it's time and I can tell you from the vet clinic where I have worked for a good many years--waiting for a pet to die "naturally" is often, in the long run, not what turns out to be the best thing to do.

Again, my condolences and good luck...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
CZ is on pimobendin, enalapril and mirtazapine and metronidazole and furosemide and doxycycline. He is also on liquid CoQ12, liquid l-arginine, and canine nutrition supplements. He has seen the cardio twice and although there he is no longer in congestive heart failure, that is the only improvement. Almost 2K for the cardio doc to tell me nothing that was not already obvious. I didn't need a lecture on what DCM is. I am a Doberman person - we all know (and fear) that disease. Anyway, CZ saw the primary care vet this past Thursday and his kidneys are no better and no worse. He isn't in renal failure or anything. I told the vet I did not plan to take him back to the cardio. CZ is scheduled for another X-ray and short echo tomorrow and we are probably going to start him on home Oxygen therapy. All the vets and vet techs there love CZ and have known him since he was a little puppy and have marveled and how loving, handsome and obedient he is. They are feeling this loss along with me. Maybe the Oxygen therapy will help with his appetite. I'm not ready to lose him yet but I am weary of living in fear of his death too.
 

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First of all, I am so very sorry for this diagnosis. This a horrible disease that plagues this breed. I don't see anywhere in your post that you have done a 24 or 48 holter on him. This is a very important test for dogs with DCM. The echo only gives a brief snapshot. I agree with dobebug on seeing the cardiologist. My Baron was diagnosed with early stage DCM when he was 4 1/2 through a cardiologist at the health fair. The echo was done and it was perfect. The 24 hour holter, not so much. We immediately contacted and saw a cardiologist that was in our area. This is Baron's thread: https://www.dobermantalk.com/doberman-health/53082-baron-has-dcm.html

He was first put on Sotalol, 80 mg, every 12 hours and large amounts of fish oil and also CoQ10. That was in 2011. In 2015, the disease started showing signs of progressing so we added Pimobendan, 10 mg, every 12 hours, and Mexiletine, 250 mg., every 12 hours. Baron just turned 11 1/2 in May. He sees the cardiologist about every 9-10 months for an echo and 24 holter.

One other thing to have checked is his thyroid. Baron's cardiologist believes and said there are studies being done about a correlation between thyroid dogs and DCM. Baron's thyroid has always been on the low normal side but his last test now shows slightly below normal so we have added thyroid meds to his regiment. When doing a thyroid, we use the Michigan State Panel which is the gold standard.

In all the years, Baron has only had one time that he was picky about his food and that was about a month or so after adding the Pimobendan and Mexiletine but with a little creativity, it did resolve and since then have had no problems.

As far as the genetic tests for DCM, they are a good tool for research and hopefully they will find more genes involved in the future but it is not a tool for diagnosing DCM in Dobes. Baron happens to be negative PDK4 and positive homozygous for the DCM2 gene.

I am a firm believer in early testing of these dogs (at and around 2 or 3 or 4 at the latest) as I feel the sooner they are put on the drugs out there today, the longer quality of life and years they will have. Hope this helps a little.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
He had the 24 hour holter test done while I was out of town at the beginning of this month. What started as a cough at the very end of may turned into cardiac failure and a diagnosis of DCM within a week. By the time I returned home on the 10th of this month, he was no longer eating. He has seen the cardiologist twice and was scheduled to see him again this Thursday. I did not get a chance to speak with the cardiologist and was informed by my husband of the DCM diagnosis. I was planning to speak to the cardio personally on Thursday. However, at the vet this morning, they discovered that he was in cardiac failure on both sides of the heart now. She said he is suffering and it is time to put him down. On the last digital ultrasound, she said his heart was not enlarged and she was surprised that the meds were so ineffective. He is now in renal failure and the diuretics cause dehydration without reducing the fluid in his chest. Another vet will be coming to my home tonight to put him to sleep.

I also am a firm believer in genetic testing, yearly echos, and participation in the longevity program. I thought I had done my due diligence when purchasing CZ (not that I regret it - he has been the most loving friend I could possibly have hoped for). I was mistaken in my belief that a clean cardio for sire and dam was enough. I now know that the disease does not often show up until the dogs are much older and so you would need to go back another generation and have those dogs tested. I am not ready for a new puppy yet, but next time I will be sure to look at the lifespan of dogs and bitches further down the line.
 

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Peace be with you today and tonight......give CZ a gentle kiss for all of us today.....rest easy our good boy......

Oh man....our hearts throb for you ...........
 

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I'm so sorry.....DCM is a beast of a disease and takes so many of our dobes way too young.

My heart is with you tonight.
 

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He had the 24 hour holter test done while I was out of town at the beginning of this month. What started as a cough at the very end of may turned into cardiac failure and a diagnosis of DCM within a week. By the time I returned home on the 10th of this month, he was no longer eating. He has seen the cardiologist twice and was scheduled to see him again this Thursday. I did not get a chance to speak with the cardiologist and was informed by my husband of the DCM diagnosis. I was planning to speak to the cardio personally on Thursday. However, at the vet this morning, they discovered that he was in cardiac failure on both sides of the heart now. She said he is suffering and it is time to put him down. On the last digital ultrasound, she said his heart was not enlarged and she was surprised that the meds were so ineffective. He is now in renal failure and the diuretics cause dehydration without reducing the fluid in his chest. Another vet will be coming to my home tonight to put him to sleep.

I also am a firm believer in genetic testing, yearly echos, and participation in the longevity program. I thought I had done my due diligence when purchasing CZ (not that I regret it - he has been the most loving friend I could possibly have hoped for). I was mistaken in my belief that a clean cardio for sire and dam was enough. I now know that the disease does not often show up until the dogs are much older and so you would need to go back another generation and have those dogs tested. I am not ready for a new puppy yet, but next time I will be sure to look at the lifespan of dogs and bitches further down the line.
I am so very, very sorry. My thoughts are with you. This disease is just horrible and taken way too many young dogs. My heart is breaking for you.
 

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Very sorry this has happened. Sending my thoughts and prayers your way.
 
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I am feeling your pain today and am just so sorry. Run free CZ.
 
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I'm very sorry for your loss.

RIP CZ.
 
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I am so sorry you've lost your dog. He's gone to where the good dogs go but he'll remain forever in your memory.

Sleep softly CZ.
 
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