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Early Heart Failure


Guest suzanne
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Guest suzanne

Hi all

I am posting about my 9 year old boy. He will be ten in August. The phrase 'heart dog' doesn't go far enough to explain what he means to me. He has always been in very good health since we've had him, we have met his previous owners from when he raced and he has never had any big injuries, only a few tiny ones. He has lure coursed with us up until last year and while his age is given away by how grey he is, in all other respects you would think he was a young dog, the vet has never had any problems with him. Long story short, we went to a different vet to get a booster vaccination done because our own vet is a long, long drive away but we trust her well because she was with us for our last girl's osteo diagnosis and treatment. This new vet was great and came recommended. He gave our boy a general health check prior to doing the vax and said he has early heart failure. I nearly fainted. He then explained that this is treatable with medication and that he doesn't think he will need medication for perhaps another year. He explained that it is in the left hand side, and we listended and could hear the 'fuzz' rather than distinct and usual heart beats. Our boy had 111 races and he explained that this and old age would be to blame. I know I am probably being dramatic but i am terrified and cried all night. I could not bear to lose this boy, and that the vet said he has a 'couple more years' is not what i expected from my healthy boy from whom i expected at least to live until 12, 13, maybe 15....... he's that sort of rule breaker/ :-/

The vet suggested it was not so severe that we need do ANYTHING until he's due his next vax in March but when we explained how worried we were he said we could bring him back after a brisk spot of exercise so he could check it all out.

I would like to hear from anyone who has experienced this, the good and bad, i want to know what to expect, what to do, etc. I am worried that if we leave it casually like he expected something that couyld have been treated well now could become worse and harder to treat over time. Money will not be a concern, i will find it for him.

I would also like to know if any dietary changes may be helpful, as they probably would be in humans.

Should I stop him running up the stairs? At night he loves to gallop up at top speed and jump on my bed.

I am so confused. I would like to hear ANYTHING at all about this sort of thing, despite having plenty of dogs, i have not experienced heart conditions. I always worried it would be osteo again, and hoped it would just be old age in his sleep, ideally at 20...................

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Oy-I'm sorry this vet scared you like that---is this vet aware that ghs are known to have murmurs? Not really sure how they could hand you such a horrible diagnosis without running a full cardio exam--radiographs, EKG, echo... Try not to panic until you seek out another opinion.

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Guest suzanne

do you mean it could be a murmur? my real vet has checked his heart many times and never found anything. would that be a better thing? i know so little about hearts now that i come to thinking of it. :-/

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Guest grey_dreams

I just lost my heart dog to heart failure. :weep Sadly, I know a fair amount about it, because I've been studying it for a couple of years.

 

Greyhound heart values are different than other dogs. (You can read something here: http://www.greyhound...Hound_Myths.pdf ) It might be possible that he doesn't have heart disease, but you shouldn't assume that the vet just misinterpreted the examination. The heart can change fast enough so that in two examinations spread out over half a year, the murmur will pop up, with no real warning.

 

You need to get an echocardiogram done to check the size of the heart (edited to add: specifically, it will check the size of the internal chamber and the size of the walls of the heart), and it can track the blood flow through the heart.

 

The results of the echo will let you know what you need to do next. Please keep us updated.

Edited by grey_dreams
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Guest suzanne

I would also like to add that his appetite is as huge as ever and he is always bouncing like a loon as soon as the lead comes out for walkies, he'd walk forever but doesn't have the same interest in running off lead as my two young greys (6 months and 3 yrs) have which i had put down to age. This is a fairly recent thing as even a year ago he would have ran more. Now he prefers to walk and trot along sniffing and exploring.

 

I just lost my heart dog to heart failure. :weep Sadly, I know a fair amount about it, because I've been studying it for a couple of years.

 

Greyhound heart values are different than other dogs. (You can read something here: http://www.greyhound...Hound_Myths.pdf ) It might be possible that he doesn't have heart disease, but you shouldn't assume that the vet just misinterpreted the examination. The heart can change fast enough so that in two examinations spread out over half a year, the murmur will pop up, with no real warning.

 

You need to get an echocardiogram done to check the size of the heart (edited to add: specifically, it will check the size of the internal chamber and the size of the walls of the heart), and it can track the blood flow through the heart.

 

The results of the echo will let you know what you need to do next. Please keep us updated.

 

Thanks so much for this. Unfortunately I feel this is a hound savvy vet as he has a saluki himself and sees other hounds but that doesn't mean he may know all the different values. I think we will see our own vet and will for sure keep ypu updated.

 

I am so sorry to hear about your dog, may he or she be running free and happily, waiting to see you again. It is so hard.

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You really need another opinion-do you have a referral or teaching hospital nearby that staffs a cardiologist? Personally I think any vet that hands you such an awful diagnosis then, says not to do anything until his recheck in March is a foolish (I'm being polite here) vet.

Chances are its nothing but, for everyone's peace of mind AND in case this is severe you can jump on treatment now-get it checked by a qualified vet.

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Guest suzanne

I agree, it was a horrible thing to say so casually, my Oh and I got such a shock. I am in Ireland where we don't have as many specialists etc but I will start checking that out today. Thank you.

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Guest grey_dreams

... This is a fairly recent thing as even a year ago he would have ran more. Now he prefers to walk and trot along sniffing and exploring.

 

 

 

As the vet has a sighthound, they probably understand about greyhound hearts. Please schedule the echocardiogram sooner rather than later, either through your normal vet, or through a cardiology specialist. You are in the UK?

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http://www.vet.ohio-state.edu/assets/pdf/hospital/bloodBank/wellness/newsletters/2008/ghwpNewsletterSummer2008.pdf

Maybe this will help?

FYI-my girls are Irish bred--they came to here to the states to see if they would race better here-one yes, one not so much :-). Their sire is Roanokee

Try not too worry about your hound until you follow through with a full cardiac check.

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Guest suzanne

Ok I have rang the following and they sound great, i will need a referral from my own vet first.

 

http://www.ucd.ie/vthweb/services_sam.html#new

 

The UVH is pleased to announce that Anne French, RCVS Specialist in Veterinary Cardiology MVB CertSAM DVC DECVIM-CA(Cardiology) will be providing a small animal cardiology service within the UVH on the last Friday of each month (except April, July and August).

Anne is a graduate from UCD and is currently Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Cardiology and Head of the Small Animal Cardiopulmonary Unit at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh. Anne has an excellent research record with special interests in aortic stenosis in boxers, pimobendan in the treatment of dilated cardiomyopathy, interventional cardiology, mitral valve disease in dogs and novel ultrasound techniques in small animals.

 

Cases assessed by Anne will be selected breeds (screening for cardiac disease) and ongoing cardiology cases referred to the Small Animal Clinical Studies service. Selected breeds include: Newfoundlands, Boxers and and Maine Coon cats.

 

The screening charge is €165 (consultation, auscultation, echocardiography). Please contact the UVH (phone 01-716 6000) for further information or to make a referral.

 

Detailed information on screening is available on The Veterinary Cardiovascular Society website: http://www.bsava.com/vcs.

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Guest grey_dreams

Yes, University College Dublin is the only vet teaching and research university in Ireland.

 

Even just get the referral from this last vet, the one who found the murmur. They surely won't object to you seeking further opinions and treatment.

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Guest suzanne

Good idea, in that case do you think it necessary to go to my own vet at all? She is great but considering we got this boy too old to insure i have to be savvy about money here and UCD won't be cheap.

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Guest grey_dreams

Maybe you can just ring her and ask if she can arrange an echocardiogram for you. In the Netherlands and in the US, there are specialist techs who own their own instruments and travel around to vet clinics as needed. Maybe one of the vets could arrange this option for you. Maybe it could be cheaper than UCD, but you would have to find out. Keep in mind that often the research university clinics are very reasonably priced, because it is largely staffed by students and residents.

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I just lost my heart dog to heart failure. :weep Sadly, I know a fair amount about it, because I've been studying it for a couple of years.

 

Greyhound heart values are different than other dogs. (You can read something here: http://www.greyhound...Hound_Myths.pdf ) It might be possible that he doesn't have heart disease, but you shouldn't assume that the vet just misinterpreted the examination. The heart can change fast enough so that in two examinations spread out over half a year, the murmur will pop up, with no real warning.

 

You need to get an echocardiogram done to check the size of the heart (edited to add: specifically, it will check the size of the internal chamber and the size of the walls of the heart), and it can track the blood flow through the heart.

 

The results of the echo will let you know what you need to do next. Please keep us updated.

 

I agree with this. I lost my boy this summer to heart issues and this is after having him on meds for 6 mths. In our Jack's case, he had pretty severe heart issues that seemed to get worse rapidly and I believe his murmur was a grade 3-4. In our case, it was the inconsistent beating of his heart that was the problem and while not 100% sure what took his life, it definitely stemmed from his heart. In your case, if you boy has a murmur which many Greys do, it shouldn't be a big problem. If however he has truly early heart failure, a Cardiologist can prescribe meds that can give your boy a lot of time and a good life. So in I suggest like others, please get the second opinion, have heart tests run by a Cardiologist and take it from there.

Kyle with Stewie ('Super C Ledoux, Super C Sampson x Sing It Blondie) and forever missing my three angels, Jack ('Roy Jack', Greys Flambeau x Miss Cobblepot) and Charlie ('CTR Midas Touch', Leo's Midas x Hallo Argentina) and Shelby ('Shari's Hooty', Flying Viper x Shari Carusi) running free across the bridge.

Gus an coinnich sinn a'rithist my boys and little girl.

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My hound developed a pretty significant heart murmur. Took him to the cardiologist and he had an echo and EKG done. The cardiologist said that aside from the murmur, his heart was sound and that when the time came, odds are we would lose him to something else and not cardiac related. He wasn't even placed on medication and was scheduled to return in a full year. Unfortunately, osteo stole him 6 months later so we never had to follow up. He was 11. I hope your cardiology exam brings you as much relief as mine did!

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Cindy with Miss Fancypants, Paris Bueller, Zeke, and Angus 
Dante (Dg's Boyd), Zoe (In a While), Brady (Devilish Effect), Goose (BG Shotgun), Maverick (BG ShoMe), Maggie (All Trades Jax), Sherman (LNB Herman Bad) and Indy (BYB whippet) forever in my heart
The flame that burns the brightest, burns the fastest and leaves the biggest shadow

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Guest grey_dreams

My hound developed a pretty significant heart murmur. Took him to the cardiologist and he had an echo and EKG done. The cardiologist said that aside from the murmur, his heart was sound and that when the time came, odds are we would lose him to something else and not cardiac related. He wasn't even placed on medication and was scheduled to return in a full year. Unfortunately, osteo stole him 6 months later so we never had to follow up. He was 11. I hope your cardiology exam brings you as much relief as mine did!

 

Yes, there is some controversy in vet research whether there is any advantage to place dogs with murmurs on medication before the heart walls begin to show signs of expanding. Some vets go ahead and begin medication (enalapril or similar), whereas others cite research that this protocol does not significantly extend lifespan or affect outcomes. I think most research-oriented vets prefer not to medicate in the earliest stages, whereas general-practice vets (who may not be aware of the most recent research) will go ahead and medicate.

 

edited for spelling

Edited by grey_dreams
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Take a deep breath. Let it out. Relax.

 

My Pearl was diagnosed with heart disease when she was 5. Hypertension when she was 6. Other than being on a plethura of meds for the rest of her life, she was happy, and had no issues. No dietary restrictions, no exercise restrictions. No one could tell her ticker wasn't the best. no one could tell she was sick. In fact no one thought she was 12 when she reached that age. (she saw a canine cardiologist for diagnosis and treatment).

 

She died at age 12 of cancer.

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I would definitely ask for more tests to be done by a Cardiologist! Medications can keep things under control a little longer and I also feel that frequent (at least 2 times a year with the cardiologist is necessary.

 

I recently lost my dog to heart disease, last month at an early age of 8 yrs. Please see a specialist to keep this under control

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Guest grey_dreams

... Medications can keep things under control a little longer and I also feel that frequent (at least 2 times a year with the cardiologist is necessary.

 

I recently lost my dog to heart disease, last month at an early age of 8 yrs. Please see a specialist to keep this under control

 

Supplements also really helped Zuki a lot for managing the disease with the best possible health for as long as possible. Coenzyme Q10, carnitine, taurine, and other antioxidants. There are also herbs that really help: hawthorn, gingko, dandelion. Dandelion is an excellent diuretic that doesn't interfere with the electrolyte balance. Because Zuki was taking dandelion, we could keep his lasix dosage at a minimum. Hawthorn is really great for the heart. Agree about least twice a year with a cardiologist.

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"Early heart failure" can't be diagnosed based on a physical exam in a dog who is not showing any symptoms. It sounds like the vet just heard a heart murmur, and IMO, it was irresponsible and inconsiderate (not to mention, just plain wrong) for him to tell you that your boy has early heart failure.

 

All a heart murmur means is that there's an abnormal sound to the heart beat. This can be caused by a number of things, some significant and indicative of heart disease, others completely normal and physiological. As others have mentioned, low grade heart murmurs are not uncommon and can be normal in greyhounds. The only way to assess heart function is to have an ultrasound (echocardiogram) done, and hopefully seeing the cardiologist will give you some peace of mind.

 

The term "heart failure" (early or otherwise) means that the heart is no longer functioning properly. This results in clinical signs such as fluid build-up in the lungs or tissues, leading to coughing and swelling of the abdomen or limbs. Or poor circulation leading to exercise intolerance or other systemic signs like poor appetite and weight loss. Clinically healthy dogs are not typically diagnosed with heart failure. And heart failure would need to be treated with medication.

Jennifer &

Willow (Wilma Waggle), Wiki (Wiki Hard Ten), Carter (Let's Get It On),

Ollie (whippet), Gracie (whippet x), & Terra (whippet) + Just Saying + Just Alice

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Guest suzanne

Thanks for your very helpful reply. I am so confused, still trying to get the referral sorted and now i'm worried - does a dog need to be put under GA for an ultrasound/ecg?

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Guest suzanne

ETA - just got through to the vet who said that he can do all of that, there is no need to go to the vet hospital for an ecg. So i think we will go to our original vet and have her do it.

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ETA - just got through to the vet who said that he can do all of that, there is no need to go to the vet hospital for an ecg. So i think we will go to our original vet and have her do it.

Sounds like a plan---can this vet order an echo too? I would ask your vet to give this other vet a ring and have him ask why he landed you such an awful diagnosis before performing the proper tests.

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Guest suzanne

I will check that out when I call her later. She was with us when our girl had osteo and we trust her. This other vet seems nice but we just saw him once the other night and he gave us that bad news :-/ He also said that if we go to the Vet hospital we'll be looking at 1000 euro just for the ECG, Echo etc. We couldn't insure him as we got him as a senior so that is scary if that's the price to find out before even factoring in any treatment/medication prices. BUT i am nervous that going to a normal vet for an ECG etc is stupid because they are general and not cardiology specialists. :(

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