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Five weeks ago my 3 1/2 yrs old Tango starting coughing out of the blue, I took him to the vet and intermediately they heard a heart murmur (type III/IV). They refer him to my local VET school cardiology service (UF), they ran a series of tests and determined that he has DCM, which has developed into CHF. Immediately put him on vetmedin, fluosemide and enalapril, a week latter he started to cough once in a while and they added spironolact, which helped. A couple of weeks latter he did not want to eat and in a follow-up visit they heard a very pronounced arrhythmia, and extremely fast heart rate (they could not even count it with an stethoscope, they need it the ECG to do it). They put him on Digoxin and Dilacor to help with the heart.

To say that I am devastated is an understatement, he is (by far) the best dog I ever had, and the idea of losing him in a few more weeks is absolutely disheartening.......... he is so young and full of life.... and he will never get to play with our baby daughter (9 months) as we planed.....

On the bright side, I have to say that everybody at the cardiology department at the University of Florida (including Dr. Amara Estrada) are absolutely the best, I would highly recommend them to anybody.
 

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I am so sorry. This disease is constantly making us cry. He is too young to be so ill. It isn't fair. My heart goes out to you in this time of sadness. The only thing I can say is to give each day a fair chance full of love and treats and fun. Don't let him see you suffer as he won't understand why you are so upset.
 

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My heart goes out to you and yours. I'm so sorry you have to go through this.. Give that boy some love from all of us.
 
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Absolutely heartbreaking and mind numbing. Life is not fair when it takes such a young dog with this horrible disease. I am so very sorry you and all of your family are going thru this. Do try to maintain an upbeat attitude for Tango. Spoil him and enjoy his time with you. This is just so disturbing.
 

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Give your boy lots of love, treats and special time. I can't imagine going thru this. Please take lots of photos and always have a piece of him with you
 

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Eat Poo and Die
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I am so, so very sorry. It's really such a horrible disease and you can never prepare for what it'll feel like until you get the Dx. If you ever need someone to talk to or rant to, send a PM my way. Hugs and kisses for Tango.
 

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He will be with you always. I know my girls are with me, and I think of them everyday. I am so sorry for you, your family and for him. This is so sad.
 

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I'm so sorry you're going through this with your dobe & at such a young age too. Life can certainly be cruel sometimes. There are so many people here who have been through it or are currently going through it, myself included, so you're not alone. 8 weeks ago my 7 year old boy was diagnosed with DCM/CHF. He too had a fast heart rate & arrhythmia's,(a 24 hr holter monitor showed an average heart rate of 112bpm & 18300 abnormal beats) We had adopted him less than 3 years ago & to be told we were going to lose him was devastating to us. So we set about making his remaining time as fun as possible. We live each day with him as if it's his last & do all the things with him that he loves best like sniffing out rabbits(he's obsessed with smells lol) & playing with his toys. As long as he keeps battling on we'll be right by his side fighting with him until he lets us know he's had enough. We just take it one day at a time & ensure he's happy, comfortable & given all the love & cuddles that he demands. That's really all we can do.

Hugs to you & Tango
 

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GOT's Kal-Drogo The Horseman (Drogo),TKI,TKN, CGC, 7 years; RIP Baron, Miley, Dax, Lonesome, Baron 1
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I am so very sorry to read this. I hate this disease. All I can say is live in the moment with Tango and come here to vent anytime. DT is a great support group. If you need to talk, please PM me as my Baron was diagnosed with early stage DCM at 4 1/2. He has been on meds for over a year now.
 

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So sorry to hear this about such a young Doberman. Having lost 2 to DCM, I know the heartache too well. I also lost my first Doberboy at 4 1/2 to asymptomatic intestinal blockage, so I know how it feels to lose a very young dog. There are no words that will make it feel less painful.

My boy Dylan who was part of the UF stem cell study died at 8 1/2 after fighting DCM for a year or so. All I can say is that you are fortunate to have the University of FL Cardiology Dept. to see you through this. They were absolutely wonderful to Dylan and very compassionate towards us. We live in Williston, FL, and are your neighbors. Feel free to contact us if you need support. Again, I'm so sorry that you are having this awful experience, at least you are in the very best hands.
 

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So sorry to hear this.

Help him enjoy each day as much as you can, and we're here for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thank you guys, it is truly comforting to hear from all of you, I know that I am not alone in this horrible fight. It is a terrible feeling when you come home at the end of the day and don't know if you are going to have your dog for another day..... to me that is one of the hardest parts.

So far, we have been taking him to all his favorite places and doing his favorite things.... some days he is more upbeat, some days he is a lot more mellow and wants lots of petting.

I have a few questions for some of you who have been or are going trough this before:

1) He is not eating much these days, and have lost weight. I already tried the following recommendations from my vet: Science Hills I/D, Royal Cannin Intestinal Health (High Energy), Wellness Lamb and Sweet potatoes (very high energy). What have worked for you in this regard?

2) The cardiologist only approved fish oils 2000 mg, and CoQ10 twice a day. She said that there are not clear studies of benefits for anything else, and it is not clear if there are any interactions with all the meds that he is on. I am a bit confused from all the other people saying that their vets cleared the use of so many supplements.

Regarding his pedigree, we did not know any better then and got him form a somewhat local BYB. He only have CKC registration, not AKC. If some of you still want his pedigree I will have to dig it up.

Regarding his early onset of DCM/CHF his cardiologist only mentioned that it is somewhat unusual, and that she thinks that probably he is homozygous for the gene to have developed so early. I have not have him tested for this, since I do not see the point at this time.
 

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For a perspective, please undestand that because of the nature of DCM none of really knows that we will have our dog for another day. Dogs die all the time without being diagnosed or showing any symptoms. I can't say if it's better or worse to be prepared. I do understand sympathize with how it feels once you know.

It's common for dogs to become inappetant (sp?) due to the medications and the disease itself. What worked for us until the end was very near was cooking for Dylan. I would boil a whole chicken with a whole head of garlic until the meat was very tender. I would take the chicken (also remove garlic) out of the broth and bone it. I would also use the skin for the caloric value. I would add brown rice to the broth and cook that as well. Combine all together and serve over some kibble, let soak in. This kept him eating when he had gone off dog food. Frankly, anything that he would eat he could have. I think seeing him refuse food was the most agonizing thing of all. I hope this will help you.
 

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Holier Than Now
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...Regarding his early onset of DCM/CHF his cardiologist only mentioned that it is somewhat unusual, and that she thinks that probably he is homozygous for the gene to have developed so early. I have not have him tested for this, since I do not see the point at this time.
First, let me say how sorry I am.

I lost my best red boy ever, at only age three, to this same nightmare disease.

Regarding what I pulled out of your post, there: Please consider having him tested, for the purposes of Dr. Meurs' research.

If that test had been available when my Ezra was diagnosed, I would have loved to have had him tested, just to see if the homozygous thing held true. I know it's a prevailing theory right now, but would hope to see more data on this.

As far as supplements, I guess do whatever feels right to you, with the guidance and support of his tx team.

I know, looking back, that one of the things I ended up regretting is being so terribly focused on getting tons of meds and supplements down my boy...when ultimately it did not change a thing and that was precious time I coulda been letting him chew his favorite stuffy, playing tug with him, or just sitting quietly with him by the creek. Just something for you to ponder.

As far as eating--it is so difficult to keep them eating when they feel so uncomfortable from the CHF.

Feeding him while he's standing, in an elevated position, may help him feel comfortable enough to eat more.

I wouldn't stress overly much over what you get in him, at this point--others may disagree, but I feel let him eat what he wants, even if it's "junk" food to a certain extent. My guy got lots of extras and special things, at the end.
 

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Sea Hag
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The cardiologist I use for my dogs has always advised to keep the calories going in any way you can for dogs in chf. Caloric intake is more important than what makes up that intake at this point in time. Sometimes you need to be inventive to get them to eat. I'd try to stay away from excessively salty foods like hot dogs, other processed meats, etc...but if that's all the dog will eat, then that's what I'd feed it.

Someone I know online consulted a veterinary nutritionist about this once, and she recommended trying sugar-things like banana bread and frosted mini wheats were her recommendations. Worth a try!

Sometimes the way you feed them is the problem with dogs in chf. While I usually avoid raised feeders like the plague with my dogs, some dogs with chf have a hard time breathing if they have to bend over and eat off the ground. So this is one situation where I have used a raised feeder.

Sometimes the drugs themselves will cause anorexia. You can sometimes change to similiar drugs, ie benazapril rather than enalapril, etc. and improve appetite. Have you had the levels of the digoxin checked? Sometimes that drug is responsible for anorexia, and removing it from the drugs used will get the dog eating again.

Lasix (furosemide) can cause nausea if not given with a small amount of food. This nausea can result in the dog refusing food at mealtimes.
 

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Very sorry to hear that :(
We just got our babe couple weeks ago and we can't imagine to loose her.
 
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