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Old February 5th, 2011, 07:43 PM
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cassiek cassiek is offline
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Heart Murmur

Hi all,

Yesterday we took Sassy and Furbs to the vet for their annual senior check-up.

Furby is doing great... he's down a few lbs at a healthy weight, his teeth look great and his heart is doing well. He is starting to show some very preliminary signs of cataracts, but overall he's doing terrific (well, besides we still struggle with his allergies).

Sassy is not doing so bad herself for an old gal. She had her teeth cleaned last year - they are not too bad, but she would benefit from another cleaning we'll look at doing later this year. Her weight is excellent and she's in great shape. She is starting to show some cataracts which I've known for awhile. Vet also commented she has a heart murmur, which she's had for a few years now. A year or so back, vet graded her at a 1 on the heart murmur scale (for lack of a better word ). Vet put her at a 2-3 yesterday. She told me not to panic (it's like she knows me too well or something ), but if I started to notice symptoms (coughing, can't keep up with exercise etc), to bring her back and there are some excellent heart meds we could put her on.

She seems to still have oodles of energy, so I'm not too concerned at this point. I was doing some research today and came across some articles that mentioned a few supplements that can help strengthen the heart. One mentioned hawthorn. I'm wondering if it would be beneificial to start her on something like this? Of course I'd discuss with vet first, but would love to hear other's thoughts and experiences.

As of now, we do feed her a raw diet in the AM, Acana in the PM, as well as supplementing her with salmon oil for omega's and Recovery SA for her joints.
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Old February 5th, 2011, 09:38 PM
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sugarcatmom sugarcatmom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cassiek View Post
Vet put her at a 2-3 yesterday. She told me not to panic (it's like she knows me too well or something ), but if I started to notice symptoms (coughing, can't keep up with exercise etc), to bring her back and there are some excellent heart meds we could put her on.
Is a cardiac ultrasound (echocardiogram) an option? That could help narrow down what the nature of the murmur is and which type of medications (ie beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors, etc) would be most helpful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cassiek View Post
I was doing some research today and came across some articles that mentioned a few supplements that can help strengthen the heart. One mentioned hawthorn. I'm wondering if it would be beneificial to start her on something like this? Of course I'd discuss with vet first, but would love to hear other's thoughts and experiences.
Not sure about using hawthorn in dogs, but in cats there are some cautions about giving it without knowing what the specific heart condition is (HCM, DCM, RCM). Something to do with how it "strengthens" the heart muscle, which may not be what you want if the heart has a lot of thickening. Don't quote me though - definitely talk to your vet about it.

Coenzyme Q10 is something I'd recommend trying. I give it to my HCM kitty, and there are no problematic side effects. http://www.dogsincanada.com/coenzyme-q10
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Old February 6th, 2011, 03:24 PM
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cassiek cassiek is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarcatmom View Post
Is a cardiac ultrasound (echocardiogram) an option? That could help narrow down what the nature of the murmur is and which type of medications (ie beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors, etc) would be most helpful.



Not sure about using hawthorn in dogs, but in cats there are some cautions about giving it without knowing what the specific heart condition is (HCM, DCM, RCM). Something to do with how it "strengthens" the heart muscle, which may not be what you want if the heart has a lot of thickening. Don't quote me though - definitely talk to your vet about it.

Coenzyme Q10 is something I'd recommend trying. I give it to my HCM kitty, and there are no problematic side effects. http://www.dogsincanada.com/coenzyme-q10
Hey SCM, thanks for the info. My vet and I did discuss an ECG and something we could potentially look into doing.

I'll look into the Coenzyme Q10! Thanks!
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Old February 6th, 2011, 06:43 PM
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Sib.HuskyMom Sib.HuskyMom is offline
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Cardiac concerns is something I have much experience with unfortunately. Like your vet said, I wouldn't be too concerned over a 2-3 rating. My old dog stayed at that rating for about 3 years before it suddenly progressed to a 5. At the time, I unfortunatley didn't know about the option of natural supplements, so it's not something that I ever looked into.
However we did start giving him Vetmedin. It was a low dose in the beginning (I believe just 1 pill every other day).

Years later when he got really sick and we brought in an emergency canine cardiac specialiest, he said that the Vetmedin was probably what had saved his life and kept him so active for so long. I guess we'll never know for sure, but it was comforting to hear that we had done the right thing.

When it comes to something like this, there are so many options available. Depending on the type of heart disease that eventually prograsses, an echocardiogram may or may not be helpful (in our case, the vet said it wouldn't be worth the cost because it would provide such limited information).

My point is, I know how scary it is to learn that the murmer is progressing. But just remember that it took a few years to get that far, it may take a few more years to get any farther. And when it does, there are many treatment options, medications, and cardiac specialists there to help.

Like your vet said, keep an eye out for coughing, or getting winded more quickly after excercise. Also, it's good to start taking her pulse on a regular basis. When she's at the vet, it's probably elevated due to stress. But when she's relaxed at home, you'll be able to tell what her true resting heart rate is. If you notice it increasing over time, than that's another sign that heart is having to work harder than it used to, to pump blood.
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Old February 6th, 2011, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by cassiek View Post
My vet and I did discuss an ECG and something we could potentially look into doing.
An ECG (or EKG) is an electrocardiogram, which is actually different from the ultrasound. It shows the electrical activity of the heart (you know, those graph thingies with the needle that goes up and down). The echocardiogram is a visualization of the heart in action using ultrasound. The echocardiogram, interpreted by a cardiologist, is the best way to determine what the nature of the heart condition is. They are expensive though.
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Old February 6th, 2011, 08:32 PM
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cassiek cassiek is offline
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Originally Posted by sugarcatmom View Post
An ECG (or EKG) is an electrocardiogram, which is actually different from the ultrasound. It shows the electrical activity of the heart (you know, those graph thingies with the needle that goes up and down). The echocardiogram is a visualization of the heart in action using ultrasound. The echocardiogram, interpreted by a cardiologist, is the best way to determine what the nature of the heart condition is. They are expensive though.
Thanks for the info everyone!

Scm, about how much would you say cost wise could we expect if we went that option? We discussed both with the vet, right now she felt we could wait it out and see how Sassy was doing but we will likely look into it in the future.
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Old February 6th, 2011, 09:31 PM
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Scm, about how much would you say cost wise could we expect if we went that option?
I don't know if the pricing is different between dogs and cats, but I've had a few echos done on my cat. First one several years ago was roughly $500, and then a follow-up after 3 months of taking a beta-blocker which was $250 (since it was part of the initial exam). Then he had another one done a couple years after that at a different facility and it was $650.
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Old February 6th, 2011, 09:54 PM
MaxaLisa MaxaLisa is offline
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Originally Posted by sugarcatmom View Post
The echocardiogram is a visualization of the heart in action using ultrasound. The echocardiogram, interpreted by a cardiologist, is the best way to determine what the nature of the heart condition is. They are expensive though.
I would try to find a way to establish with a cardiologist and have this done. I would also have the kidney numbers checked too, if they haven't been done recently, since the kidneys can suffer when the heart is not circulating correctly.

While cardiologists will also vary in the drugs that they use, many will agree that they woudln't use Vetmedin too early, as in some cases it can speed up heart disease - it depends on what stage of heart disease your dog is in. And the supplements you might want would definitely depend on the type of heart disease, though I think CoEnzymeQ-10 is always a good heart supplement to add. Hyaluronic Acid might also help keep the tendons of the heart supple. I would be careful with Hawthorne.
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Old February 7th, 2011, 06:23 AM
BenMax BenMax is offline
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As most know my permenant now foster boy has a faulty heart valve and is considered terminal. He is currently on Vetmedin and Fortekor. Last vet visit is that his heart sounds good and though he will not be cured the disease has slown down.

It was recommended to me that Spike be limited in his play and normal doggie activities. I have taken a different approach and I am letting him live life and not having him live around life. He is having a blast and doing what dogs do. I do however keep an eye on him during the winter months (the cold) and the stairs we try to avoid.
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