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I've posted already about my dog and DCM. He has an appointment Tuesday with the cardiologist. It was the soonest we could get him in with someone. The emergency vet last night was pretty certain he has DCM and is in congestive heart failure. He is on two medications, one for his heart and one to get the fluid out. He has improved a lot since last night. His appetite is back and he has shown interest in his toys and overall seems somewhat normal although less energy. He is still breathing kind of loudly and he has coughed a couple times. I'm reading on other threads that a cough while on medication is bad and could mean the end is here.
My biggest concern is him not suffering. How do I know if he's suffering? He's still kind of happy and wagging his tail sometimes but he doesn't look that comfortable breathing. I don't want to rush him to a vet because he takes a turn for the worse and then put him down there, while he's in a state of panic. When the time comes, I want him to be home. Wether that means having the vet come to us for euthanasia or him just passing on his own.
How long can I realistically expect him to live after this diagnosis and with the condition he's in right now? What will happen in the end? I can't find a clear answer on how someone knew it was time to let them go. I don't want to see him sick and struggling for air or in pain. That's not how I want his last days to be spent.
Sorry if this is long and rambling. We are just so distraught over this. His 5th birthday is in a couple weeks and we thought we had at least a few years before we even needed to start worrying about this. Our hearts are completely shattered. Anything anyone can share about their experience with DCM and CHF will help.
 

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I am so sorry about your boy. DCM sucks. Unfortunately, I can offer you no advice. We lost a dog a few year back to DCM, but it was not due to CHF. He died of Sudden Death Syndrome due to ventricular tachycardia. He had been diagnosed years before during an episode that almost killed him, but with proper meds, lived a reasonably long and happy life.

There are folks here who can pass on their experiences with DCM/CHF, but the only accurate answer you are going to get is from a canine cardiologist after a complete exam, including an echocardiogram (echo) and a 24 hour Holter monitoring interpretation. Even then, there are no absolutes.

Our thoughts are with you.

John
Portland OR
 

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I’ve always heard that a good way to judge when it is time for your dog to go is to pick three things your dog enjoys--maybe eating, playing with a toy, perhaps even just lying down and watching the world with interest, snuggling with you...if he is no longer able or doesn’t seem to enjoy those things, it may be time. Many times, you will see a blank inwardly focused expression in your dog’s eyes that will tell you he is ready.

If I were still seeing some improvement after my dog had started medications, and didn’t see any deterioration in his condition, I think I would try to hold off to get the cardiologist’s opinion of his prognosis. He may be able to tell you whether there is the possibility of continued improvement with medication, or whether there are other meds that will help him feel more comfortable. I also think it would help you to make your decision without guilt and second guessing if you have gotten the specialist's opinion.

If the cardiologist agrees with your current vet, I believe you will feel better about what you decide. He may also give you an idea of what kind of symptoms will show that his discomfort is more than you want him to suffer and when you can expect to see no further improvement. You know your dog better than anyone else--at any point, you can consider what his life is like at the moment to help you decide what to do.

Share your concerns with the specialist--what quality of life do you want your dog to have? That way he will know what your standards are and be able to advise you, based on what you have told him, whether it might be time.

I am a firm believer that it is better to let them go one day too soon rather than a day too late. But two professional opinions would help me feel more comfortable with my choice.

The following thread is really meant more for people trying to make a decision about whether to take their dog to a vet or to wait, but perhaps you may see something that will help you.

http://www.dobermantalk.com/doberman-health/44012-signs-your-dog-pain.html


My heart goes out to you--my dog with DCM did well on medication with really no symptoms until her last day, and then it was obvious what decision I should make. Chronic heart failure makes it much more difficult; it is hard to know when to make that final decision.

But I also believe, with a dog that is not in an actual acute crisis, you will not necessarily see panic from your dog--without the built-in fear of death we have, a dog tends to just concentrate on what they feel at the moment rather than to worry about the future. I think, when you have your dog’s best interests in mind, as you do, you will make the right decision for him--even though it will be tough for you.

And remember, a lot of us have gone through the same thing you are going through. Don’t feel shy or worry that we will think less of you if you share your pain and doubts with us. We’re listening and here to support you.
 

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I'm so sorry for you and your boy. Fu(k DCM.

Can you call the vet you already saw and ask about upping his Lasix a bit? The danger is too much will burn out the kidneys. It is always hard to find that right dosage.

I've lost 4 in a row to DCM. The last presented with a cough on a Saturday. Was put on meds (pimobendan, lasix etc). Had a happy last day attacking his sprinkler, eating meaty bones and cuddling on the Wednesday and was PTS at home that evening. I would have done anything to buy him more, quality time but I owed him too much to be selfish about it.

1 went for many months on the meds fairly happily. 1 dropped dead while on meds. 1 went a few months on meds and a week too long trying to get back on top when he took a downward turn, I learned a lesson there and that is why my last boy was PTS before I went down that road.

So each dog is different and there is no conclusive answer.

If he is fairly comfortable, eating and mostly himself I would wait to see what a cardiologist recommends.

I wouldn't wish what you are going through on anyone. It is so damn hard.

:crying:
 

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I think this thread might be really helpful to you...there's good stuff all the way through: http://www.dobermantalk.com/doberma...life-scale-pets-help-euthanasia-decision.html

While I haven't lost a dog to DCM, I have lost too many pets - nearly all to cancer of some kind, one to osteosarcoma, which is one of the most painful types of cancer. I am *personally* a big believer that I would rather let them go a day too early than a day too late. I will always make the choice to spare them suffering if I can. With Simon, who had osteo, the day I knew it was time to let him go is the day he flinched when I reached to pet him. He LOVED being petted and loved on...he wanted to be touching me all the time. And I knew that it hurt him to be touched at that point...it was a tiny flinch and then he leaned in, but I saw that pain, and I knew it was time to make the appointment. And he was STILL racing around the yard, and still seemed "okay", but dogs are so stoic - they don't like to show us how much stuff hurts if they can help it. So we had a great last day where he got his favorite type of walk where he got to SNIFF ALL THE THINGS and PEE ON ALL THE THINGS and he got McDonald's cheeseburgers (THE BEST!!!) and got all the love and all his favorite things and we let him go in the morning. And I'd do it again. And have done for too many cats, too (with the cat version of favorite things).

Any choice you make out of love for your pet is the right choice. They don't always tell you that "it's time" but you can make a choice for THEM, not for you. I hope that you still have some time with your boy, but if that's not the case and you have to make a choice out of love for him, then that is okay, too, because you are easing his pain because you love him.

I'm so sorry you have to walk this path with him. Owning a Dog Eventually Leads to Suffering, And That?s OK | DrAndyRoark.com
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'm so sorry for you and your boy. Fu(k DCM.

Can you call the vet you already saw and ask about upping his Lasix a bit? The danger is too much will burn out the kidneys. It is always hard to find that right dosage.

I've lost 4 in a row to DCM. The last presented with a cough on a Saturday. Was put on meds (pimobendan, lasix etc). Had a happy last day attacking his sprinkler, eating meaty bones and cuddling on the Wednesday and was PTS at home that evening. I would have done anything to buy him more, quality time but I owed him too much to be selfish about it.

1 went for many months on the meds fairly happily. 1 dropped dead while on meds. 1 went a few months on meds and a week too long trying to get back on top when he took a downward turn, I learned a lesson there and that is why my last boy was PTS before I went down that road.

So each dog is different and there is no conclusive answer.

If he is fairly comfortable, eating and mostly himself I would wait to see what a cardiologist recommends.

I wouldn't wish what you are going through on anyone. It is so damn hard.

:crying:
With the one you PTS, what made you make that decision? The diagnosis and cough? Or was he suffering/in pain?
With the one who you say was PTS a week too late, what was that week like? Do they struggle to breathe?
 

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With the one you PTS, what made you make that decision? The diagnosis and cough? Or was he suffering/in pain?
With the one who you say was PTS a week too late, what was that week like? Do they struggle to breathe?
He was not suffering or in visible pain. His appetite was still voracious. He ate a Filet Mignon and some duck in one gulp minutes prior to being PTS. He was coughing a bit upon waking up. He had a few moments where he knew something wasn't right and was restless and wanted consoling but they would pass. He was the 4th so I knew what was ahead of us. He was my best friend and dog of a lifetime. I felt I owed him so much and that included leaving me with dignity while he was still mostly the dog he had always been. God I'm struggling to even write this and it's been almost a year. The last day I had not planned to let him go but he was more often restless and vomited a few times. I couldn't let him have even one truly bad day.

With Mak I waited too long. He really struggled with the meds. Had gastro issues that he was embarrassed about (he also had pancreatitis and had had GVD surgery). We couldn't get the meds right and he was miserable. Many trips to Guelph (cardiologists and icu) and trying to get him to eat anything. I was selfish and he did not have a very good last week of life. That was why with Ike I always told myself I would not make that mistake again.

Sadly the end result is always the same. There is no cure. To add something positive my very first Dobe also had DCM and she went almost a full year quite happily but then bloated/twisted and we could not do the surgery given the fact she was 10 and already gravely ill with DCM.

I hope you get some answers at the vet today. Hang in there.
 

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He was not suffering or in visible pain. His appetite was still voracious. He ate a Filet Mignon and some duck in one gulp minutes prior to being PTS. He was coughing a bit upon waking up. He had a few moments where he knew something wasn't right and was restless and wanted consoling but they would pass. He was the 4th so I knew what was ahead of us. He was my best friend and dog of a lifetime. I felt I owed him so much and that included leaving me with dignity while he was still mostly the dog he had always been. God I'm struggling to even write this and it's been almost a year. The last day I had not planned to let him go but he was more often restless and vomited a few times. I couldn't let him have even one truly bad day.

With Mak I waited too long. He really struggled with the meds. Had gastro issues that he was embarrassed about (he also had pancreatitis and had had GVD surgery). We couldn't get the meds right and he was miserable. Many trips to Guelph (cardiologists and icu) and trying to get him to eat anything. I was selfish and he did not have a very good last week of life. That was why with Ike I always told myself I would not make that mistake again.

Sadly the end result is always the same. There is no cure. To add something positive my very first Dobe also had DCM and she went almost a full year quite happily but then bloated/twisted and we could not do the surgery given the fact she was 10 and already gravely ill with DCM.

I hope you get some answers at the vet today. Hang in there.
I'm so sorry to make you bring back up those feelings with my question. Your answer is really helpful though. I don't want our dog to have a bad day either. I can't stand the thought of seeing him in any pain or discomfort. Right now he seems pretty happy but we can see some changes in him. I just hope the cardiologist is optimistic about how long he has.
 

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I'm so sorry to make you bring back up those feelings with my question. Your answer is really helpful though. I don't want our dog to have a bad day either. I can't stand the thought of seeing him in any pain or discomfort. Right now he seems pretty happy but we can see some changes in him. I just hope the cardiologist is optimistic about how long he has.
No need to apologize, I think about him every day anyways. If my experience can help I am happy to talk about it.

Fingers crossed for you and your boy.
 

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Any choice you make out of love for your pet is the right choice. They don't always tell you that "it's time" but you can make a choice for THEM, not for you. I hope that you still have some time with your boy, but if that's not the case and you have to make a choice out of love for him, then that is okay, too, because you are easing his pain because you love him.
Meadowcat had to tell me this thousands of times when I dealt with Toby's osteosarcoma. It is the best advice I have ever been given.
 
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