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September 29, 2007


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My dog, Billy, has the exact same situation as Toby. Billy is a 10-yr-old doxie.

Billy still eating well, but he's lossing weight (muscle); hair won't grow back on his chest after shaved for tapping; he still wants to play, but lack of strength; and the most important problem: breathing is becoming more difficult as days pass.

Is there any medication that can help??? Water pill (Lasix) is not much help.


Hello, Rebecca,

If Lasix alone is not helping, it is possible that a combination of drugs may. Other drugs like enalapril (or other A.C.E. inhibitors) can ease the workload of the failing heart.

Pimobendan is a newer (though more expensive) drug that also opens the blood vessels to ease the heart's workload, while giving the heart muscle a little stimulus to contract more forcefully.

Thirty years ago, we put all congestive heart failure dogs on digoxin. This drug pushes the heart muscle to contract more forcefully and it is inexpensive. Unfortunately, it has a narrow margin of safety. The "right" dose helps the heart, but just a little too much actually makes it function LESS well.

With some cases of heart failure, patients will require periodic tapping of the abdomen or chest to drain the fluid accumulation, even though they are being medicated as best we can.

I urge you to have a more in-depth discussion of your dog's case with your veterinarian. He/She may think that they have explained all your options really well, when in fact you obviously still have questions.

If needed, ask them about referral to a specialist.

Good luck.


Sorry to post the bad news here: Billy passed away 2 weeks ago.
His body fluid accumulated at the bottom of his body more rapidly, and he started coughing blood. I can imagine how painful it was when the fluid pushed against his lung and possibly other organs in the abs. Also, his blood test showed a very very low protein level. Just about 4 days before he left, I found 2 2-cm blisters under his tongue, and he seemed having difficulty eating (swallowing), even he still showed the desire to eat.
The vet pointed out regular tapping is not an option for him, because his body is not absorbing nutrients even he eats well for the past 3 months. The vet told me the survival chance for Billy is too low. So instead of letting Billy suffer more, we agreed to put him to sleep.
I hope better and cheaper method will become available soon to help any animals have the same problem.

Thank you for your response.

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