Dog with Enlarged Heart

by Jeff
(Melbourne, Fl)

Our darling Peekapoo is 13 and has an enlarged heart that is causing her to have choking and coughing sessions. She is on dog heart medications now with the water pill, but doesn't appear to be improving.

She has spells where I don't know if she is choking for air or if her throat is being closed up by the heart. I feel so bad for her since I feel helpless when she coughs.

Is there something else that I can feed her or vitamins that will help her on the breathing problems? Does her heart continue to enlarge even more until it stops her ability to breath?

I am so worried that she will start choking one day and I will not be able to do anything and she doesnt stop.

Thank you for this chance to talk about our little Missy.


Editor Suggestions Dog Enlarged Heart

Dear Jeff,

I’m sorry to hear about Missy’s heart disease. I would need to know a little more about her condition before I could make any specific recommendations, but if you are not pleased with her response to her current treatment, talk to your vet or even consider seeing a veterinary cardiologist.

Many different types of drugs are used to treat heart disease in dogs, and sometimes it does take a while to find the right combination for a particular individual. One relatively new medication that has been shown to be helpful in several types of canine heart disease is called Pimobendan (Vetmedin®). If Missy is not on this, you might want to talk to your vet to see whether he or she thinks it could be helpful.

Diets specifically formulated for dogs with heart disease (e.g., Hill’s H/D) can also be helpful, but these are also available by prescription only.

Good luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

Comments for Dog with Enlarged Heart

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Jan 25, 2014
congestive heart failure diagnosis in Dec 2013
by: Barb

My nine year old Sheltie/Golden retriever/terrier mix seemed fine until one day he started this cough that reminded me of kennel cough. It went from no coughing one day to four or five coughs at a time which occurred four to five times a day.

I took Wrigley to his vet where after numerous tests was put on medication. His coughing diminished from those four or five cough to maybe once a day with only one or two coughs. Some days he didnt cough at all.

A follow up with his vet let to keeping him on the medication as was prescribed two weeks prior.

This originally started in late December with a follow up on January 2nd. Last Saturday (Jan 18th) he didnt seem himself but there were no real what I'd call red flags. He took a few more naps and wasnt interested in eating but he was drinking his water. Around 7pm he came over to see me. I patted his head and gave him the usual butt rub while talking to him. He turned to where his 2 year old sister (a border collie mix) have come over to see him. After a moment of the two of them face to face, he lay down. After a soft whimper he passed away.

I don't know why he seemed to go so suddenly. From what I understood his vet explained that he had congestive heart failure but it was in its early stages and he seemed to respond to the medications well.

I'm glad that his sister was there with him at the end as I've been with other family members who had to put their dog to sleep. They'd return home and for days and weeks the remaining animals would search for the missing dog. At least his sister knows that he's gone.

Jul 09, 2013
heartbroken of my baby
by: Denise

My dog oreo is 16 yrs. old and was dianoised with enlarged heart 2 years ago I just took him to the Vets and they said to just enjoy him there really was not much they could do and they said they wont give him his shoots , cause do you agree with. HE always is coughing a lot and falls over and his heart pumps fast but gets up and walks and rags his tell like nothing happened. Do you think he will die soon.

Apr 08, 2013
Help for dog with enlarged heart
by: Anonymous

My old Brittany has the same symptoms and taking various meds for several weeks with only partial success. Currently on Lasix 50 mil(diuretic) and Benazepril 10 mil(blood pressure) twice daily. Sat. evening had severe trouble breathing and not knowing what else to do started same meds on an 8 hr. basis and he is much more comfortable. Have not discussed this with a vet yet but so far it is working and we are both getting some sleep at night.

May 10, 2011
Is that the best you can tell Jeff?
by: Rod Russell

My gosh! The dog has an enlarged heart, and the best you can do is suggest pimobendan and Hill's dog food? The dog is in congestive heart failure, with windpipe involvement, for crying out loud! Jeff needs to take her to a cardiologist and leave the judgment calls to that vet! I've lived with many dogs in congestive heart failure for four decades (heart enlargement is a constant fact of life for my breed), and no one ever has suggested to me that Hill's H/D was a solution.

Missy needs to see a cardiologist immediately. Tell Jeff to go to http://www.cavalierhealth.org/Cardiologists.htm to find one, and to go to http://www.cavalierhealth.org/mitral_valve_disease.htm#--_severe if he wants to learn about how to treat dogs with enlarged hearts. -- Rod Russell, Orlando, Florida

Dec 05, 2010
enlarged heart meds
by: mary jo

Our toy poodle has the same condition. it was just diagnosed last night at the emergency clinic because she could not catch her breath. The vet put her on vetmed,tramadol,lasix, and enalapil. She is breathing much better. I am sorry to say it was not diagnosed by my usual vet. Thank goodness for those emergency vets. I know the prognosis for this is not great, but I don't want her to suffer while she is here with us!

Dec 03, 2010
Dog Enlarged Heart Care
by: Lori Hegarty

My Chihuhua is 14.5 years old, weighs 8.3 pounds (weight gain is from steroids, due to her twisting her back years ago) She was unable to loose the weight. She was diagnoised with an enlaged heart, blood work was all WNL's, heart rate was only about 40 BPM. Chest x-ray was taken, CBC panel, EKG. She is currently on a medication daily BID that works initally, but does not last 12 hours as it should. She has fainting episodes and needs chest compressions to revive her.

Can you suggest anything to help my little Princess?



Editor Comment Dog Enlarged Heart

Hi Lori,

I can?t really make any specific comments about your dog?s case. Without complete medical history, I?m afraid anything I might say could make matters worse for Princess rather than better!

The first thing you should do, however, is call the veterinarian that diagnosed Princess and prescribed her meds. It?s possible that simply adjusting the dose or dosing frequency of her current medication or adding another drug to her treatment regime could greatly improve her situation.

Your vet is most familiar with her condition and is therefore in the best position to fine tune her treatment. If for whatever reason you are not happy with her current care, you could make an appointment with a veterinary cardiologist and get a second opinion.

Good luck!

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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