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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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Quote:
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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Originally Posted by cassiek View Post
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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Quote:
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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Old February 7th, 2011, 08:38 AM
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cassiek cassiek is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sib.HuskyMom View Post
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).

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.
Thank you SHM, for your post It made me feel much better! I think we will look into the Coenzyme Q10 supplement, and keep an eye on Sass. There has been no signs yet (coughing, winded after exercise) that it's affecting her. If anything, she has become quite the spunky gal in her old age And that is a fantastic idea about taking her pulse on a regular basis!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BenMax View Post
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.
Thanks for the tips BenMax. We will keep an eye on her, and I agree that as she ages we let her dictate her doggie activities. We have noticed this winter is hard on her at times, so we really try to limit outdoors times (for all the dogs) and focus on indoor games.

Thanks again everyone for the tips!
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Old February 7th, 2011, 09:00 AM
BenMax BenMax is offline
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Originally Posted by cassiek View Post
Thanks for the tips BenMax. We will keep an eye on her, and I agree that as she ages we let her dictate her doggie activities. We have noticed this winter is hard on her at times, so we really try to limit outdoors times (for all the dogs) and focus on indoor games.

Thanks again everyone for the tips!
It was actually a member here at Pets that warned me more so about the winter months. It was mentioned in passing by the vet, but a certain here drove it home to me in PM. Now I take extra precautions during those cold days. Infact, we no longer take extended walks with him. We have had to adjust our routine alittle by taking the younger dogs (3 of them) first and then return to take Spike out after. If I see any sign of slowing down or lagging behind, I know it's time to pick him up and head back. Also watch for the breathing and coughing.
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Old February 7th, 2011, 09:07 PM
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I've had a heart valve replaced myself, and the GSD of a family member had an atrial tumor removed successfully.
When a heart is stressed due to a defect or disease it can stay in the mild to moderate stage for a few years, but when it progresses into the moderate to severe stage, things can change quickly.
Some tips that I learned: avoid stairs, avoid too much running, avoid extreme cold, avoid extreme heat, avoid salt and processed foods--eat natural, keep hydrated, rest often. Also, CoQ 10 is a good supplement.
Checking heart rate often at rest is good, and mark it down on a calendar.
Make note of coughing or any blue-ish colour on the tongue or gums, at which time a fast trip to the vet is in order.
My valve issues never showed up on an EKG--- only on an ultrasound.
Arrhythmias sometimes show on the EKG, and heart structural defects can show as disrupted EKG patterns.
Beta blockers can do wonders in keeping the heart calm, I still take them, and they aren't expensive.
Best wishes with this
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Old April 9th, 2011, 03:00 AM
Staciewells1 Staciewells1 is offline
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Please forgive me for jumping in, but I thought it would be better to post here rather than starting a new thread.
Ellie was diagnosed about 9 months ago with a murmur. Level three, but I don't recall the vet telling me the specific type of murmur. She's been on Enalapril (sp?) for a few months now, and her energy levels have increased dramatically. She has been completely asymptomatic until this past Thursday evening, when she started breathing really heavily. Imagine taking your dog to a new park with lots of new smells- that's the kind of breathing I'm talking about. So, we took her to the vet first thing Friday (yesterday) morning. They took x-rays and an EKG and found that her heart rate has started to slow a bit since January and she has a small amount of fluid in her lungs. Her murmur is now at level four. They've doubled the Enalapril dosage and added Lasix and another pill (I'm at work right now, and I don't have the bottle in front of me, so I can't remember the name, but it is a HUGE pill that I guess tastes good, because she ate it right up. No Pill Pocket needed.) We're going back in July for bloodwork and another EKG.
My problem is that the vet was in surgery when it was time to pick her up, and couldn't answer any of my questions. She's still breathing heavily. Should I be worried? Or do I just need to wait until the medication kicks in? Is that what the lasix is for?
I assumed that exercise would be good for her, but from reading here, I see that maybe it isn't. Should I cut back on playtime and walks or wait until Ellie tells me she can't handle it? We're on the second floor, and she loves running up and down the steps, but I'll start carrying her if need be.
I would give anything to be going through this instead of my baby girl, and I would do anything to fix her. Any help is appreciated.
Almost forgot! Eleanor is a 9-yr-old MinPin mix.
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Old April 9th, 2011, 07:28 PM
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Stacie, if it were me, I'd call the clinic back and have the vet call when he's available. Most vets will answer follow-up questions over the phone if you're a continuing client.
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