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Thread: Chihuahua with heart trouble

  1. #1
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    Chihuahua with heart trouble

    I've got a Chihuahua mix that I've had since a puppy. She's about 6 yrs. old. She looks basically like a large Chihuahua. 10 mos ago when she was at the vet he told me she weighed about 14 lbs, and had a heart murmor. He said on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the worst) she was a 1. Since it's been hot around here since May I noticed she's panting a lot and not her self, sometimes skipin meals (not like her at all) So after a week of this I took her to the vet and she now weighs just under 17 lbs!!!! and has a level 2 murmor. Obviously I've got to put her on a diet. Vet says if it goes to 3 she needs to go on medication. I keep her in the house in the air conditioning except for toilet trips. Anybody ever heard that this 1-5 heart murmor rating is standard method? Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Grading heart murmurs

    Hi! I am not a doctor but my pom puppy did just have open heart surgery for PDA...successfully! We had a cardiology consult and they graded heart murmurs on scale of 1-6 which I believe is the same grading system for people. (I used to work in EKG). Jolies murmur was a 6 and very bad, her heart was enlarged to twice its size trying to compensate. As for the weight gain problem, my older pom has been gaining tons of weight but I am attributing that to the new puppy and extra treats. I have to watch him! He is 9. THere is a very good vet who visits this site Dr Welton, hopefully he will see your post and give you the correct info and how to proceed. Some people thought we were crazy to pay for open heart surgery for a 4 month puppy but how could we not? There is a program called Care Credit that some vets participate in. It allows you pay off in payments with no or little interest. So I dont get a new enagement ring....She is my little diamond. Did I say that out loud? LOL. Good luck! Write any time. If you are in NY State Cornell University/Hospital is the BEST!!!! Shelley
    Taco blue fronted Amazon (rescued)
    Sir Abbott. "Abby" (10 year old Pom) and Jolie's Uncle!
    Samantha 15-16 cat (rescused SPCA)
    Jolie our baby Pom, born Feb 9 2005 had recent successful PDA surgery at Cornell Univeristy Hospital
    Jolie is now ONE and doing GREAT the best loving and smartest dog!

  3. #3
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    Shelley,
    I bet you Jolie's eyes shine with love for you 10 times more then any diamond engagement ring could! There is always time for that ring in years to come -- in the meantime you enjoy Jolie's new sparkle of good health. Has Jolie come home yet?
    ATTITUDE! Life is 10% what happens to one and 90% how one reacts to it!

  4. #4
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    I'm in N.W. Indiana. Thanks for reply. My vet seeems to think "Rita's" heart is too small for her bodyweight. I tend to concur. This reason being I have another dog, a Chihuahua/Manchester mix (he is a real meany). I had him X rayed once and the vet said his heart was too small for his body. A defect as a result of the crossbreed.

  5. #5
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    I was always trained grading heart murmurs on a 1 to 6 scale, 1 being the least severe and 6 being the most severe. On my scale, grade 1 and 2 murmurs are mild and don't warrant immediate work-up or further diagnostics in my opinion, as long as the patient is not showing any clinical symptoms of disease (exercise intolerance, dry cough, fainting spells).

    Essentially, a heart murmur indicates the presence of one or more leaky heart valves. That is, when the heart contracts and the valves slam shut to prevent back flow as they are meant to, some blood ecsapes throught the valve, causing a portion of the blood to ecape backward. Murmurs are usually caused by a defective heart valve, but can also be caused by a defect in the heart muscle itself. The intensity of a murmur typically directly correlates with the degree of back leakage, however, this is not always the case. The result of this backleakage is that the heart has to work harder to circulate blood, which over time causes enlargement of the heart muscle which further disrupts the flow of blood - a viscious cycle which leads to an ever deteriorating condition. How fast the condition will detiorate into congestive heart failure is quite variable and difficult to predict.

    With a grade 1-2 murmur, I would have the owner monitor and re-assess with follow-up semi-yearly rechecks. In your dog's case, however, I would be concerned about a worsening in such a short time. However, I am afraid that I disagree with your vet's recomendation to potentially just "begin" treating solely based on a progression of the intensity of the heart murmur. The timing and location of heart murmurs give us an idea of the nature of the murmur, but this is too subjective to give a conclusive diagnosis of the specific problem.

    What I would recommend for your dog, based on the history that you provided, would be to have a cardiac ultrasound (also called echocardiagram or just echo for short) performed. Ultrasound provides such highly detailed imaging of the heart that individual valvular leaks can be visualized and quantitated, cardiac muscluar wall thickness can be measured, and cardiac efficiancy assessed. In this way the specific disease process can be identified, it can be assessed if treatment would be of any benefit, and, if needed, treatment can be fine tuned.

    Hope this helps. Good luck! rw
    Roger L. Welton, DVM
    Founder, Web-DVM.net
    Host, The Web-DVM TV & Blog

  6. #6
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    RWDVM.....Thankyou for your kind response. I am going to keep a close eye on her and try to get her weight down. My intention is to weigh her on the Vet's digital scale every 2 weeks. If she shows any of the symtoms you mentioned I'll take your advice about a cardiac ultrasound. Otherwise I'll have it done in August when her shots are due. Thanks again.

  7. #7
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    I'm so sorry for your problem, as we are going through the same thing. The vet has definitely classed this problem properly. We have a miniature poodle with the same problem, on medication, and probably near the point of dying. She has a grade 5. We were told there were 6 grades and I just lost my toy poodle to almost the same problem about a month ago. Does your pet cough at all? Because this is one of the effects of murmurs as they get worse. The medication is a wonder drug for awhile. Give your pet loads of love and affection and if it does cough, and believe me if it does, it will drive you nuts, especially when your trying to sleep, please be kind and don't get annoyed, as you wouldn't want to be in her/his position. Take care and I hope all goes well. Please keep us posted, there are many caring people from this website.

    Molly

  8. #8
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    I'll keep you posted. She does.nt cough yet.

  9. #9
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    If my responses seem "curt" or non-appreciative, I appologize. I'm 58 and have another dog who is a hand me down. He's a nice enough dog but so mean I fear to let people in the house. He's only 18 lbs. but I believe he's kinda crazy, and if he were larger I'd have to think about keeping him. While I was married and my son was at home we had a few dogs but none were really "mine". I got Rita for myself and since puppyhood I have become really attached to this dog. I am a usually emotionless old crab, but strange as it sounds I would prefer I was sick instead of her.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by popeye
    If my responses seem "curt" or non-appreciative, I appologize. I'm 58 and have another dog who is a hand me down. He's a nice enough dog but so mean I fear to let people in the house. He's only 18 lbs. but I believe he's kinda crazy, and if he were larger I'd have to think about keeping him. While I was married and my son was at home we had a few dogs but none were really "mine". I got Rita for myself and since puppyhood I have become really attached to this dog. I am a usually emotionless old crab, but strange as it sounds I would prefer I was sick instead of her.
    If you are afraid to let people in the house around the dog, I'd seriously suggest finding a good behaviorist /trainer as any dog big or small that is people aggressive can do a lot of damage both physically and emtionaly . Good luck with the training and keep us posted
    Therese, Patch O' Pits Proud Mom

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by popeye
    I've got a Chihuahua mix that I've had since a puppy. She's about 6 yrs. old. She looks basically like a large Chihuahua. 10 mos ago when she was at the vet he told me she weighed about 14 lbs, and had a heart murmor. He said on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the worst) she was a 1. Since it's been hot around here since May I noticed she's panting a lot and not her self, sometimes skipin meals (not like her at all) So after a week of this I took her to the vet and she now weighs just under 17 lbs!!!! and has a level 2 murmor. Obviously I've got to put her on a diet. Vet says if it goes to 3 she needs to go on medication. I keep her in the house in the air conditioning except for toilet trips. Anybody ever heard that this 1-5 heart murmor rating is standard method? Thanks.
    Sorry that your baby is ill, Hopefully it will not worsen!
    Last edited by PatchO'Pits; 07-31-2005 at 08:20 AM.
    Therese, Patch O' Pits Proud Mom

  12. #12
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    The good thing, if there can be a good thing about it, is that you caught it early. We caught a heart murmur early on one of our shih-tzu's, and she was able to live a long and healthy life on medication. I think she lived almost 10 years after she started taking the medication and she lived to the age of 12-13. She was taking enacard (I'm not sure if that's the correct spelling). I know we were heart broken when we found out about it, so I know how you feel, but once she started taking the medicine you couldn't even tell that there was anything wrong with her. I hope your dog is doing well. I'm sure with lots of love, affection, and and the proper medication she will be with you for many years to come.
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  13. #13
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    Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Molly
    I'm so sorry for your problem, as we are going through the same thing. The vet has definitely classed this problem properly. We have a miniature poodle with the same problem, on medication, and probably near the point of dying. She has a grade 5. We were told there were 6 grades and I just lost my toy poodle to almost the same problem about a month ago. Does your pet cough at all? Because this is one of the effects of murmurs as they get worse. The medication is a wonder drug for awhile. Give your pet loads of love and affection and if it does cough, and believe me if it does, it will drive you nuts, especially when your trying to sleep, please be kind and don't get annoyed, as you wouldn't want to be in her/his position. Take care and I hope all goes well. Please keep us posted, there are many caring people from this website.

    Molly
    Thank you for sharing your experience. I have an 11 year old chihuahua who has had a heart murmur, grade 1-2, for some time; however, his murmur is now a grade 5 or 6. It is devastating when your loyal pet is ill. Today is Sunday, and I put a call in to our vet to see if there is any type of treatment/medication that might make him more comfortable. Which medication were you referring to as a 'wonder drug' for a while? I'm just wondering what worked for you. Also, did your vet advise you whether or not to increase (gently) their activity? Should I walk him more, or take it easy? I just want to do what's best for him. Our little chihuahua, Taco, has been a great loyal companion to our family for nearly 12 years, and I want to do everything I can to help him be comfortable. Thank you so very much for your time and consideration. Take care and good luck with your dog as well.
    Oh...thank you SO much for the kind reminder about having compassion and patience when your dog has to deal with the annoying coughing. You are absolutely right, it does drive you nuts, but we have to remember who's REALLY suffering. Thanks again!

  14. #14
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    It's over 2 yrs since my original post. Rita, my little heart trouble dog is still around. She has since developed a luxating patella, in her left rear leg. It's bad enough that she takes pain killers daily. Given her heart problem an operation is out. I thank God my little pal is still here. She coughs maybe once or twice a day. I limit her playtime, and exercise. I believe I'm the victim of a BYB. Really makes me mad. Summer was hard on her. She was in the house with A.C. on 7X24. Now that late fall is here she's more comfortable. She bit me the other day cause she's getting a little crabby, so I know there's some spunk left in her.

  15. #15
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    Well, Rita is dead. One day about a month ago I came home from work and found her barely able to move. I rushed her to the vet, and they found her to be dehydrated and near death. I couldn't believe it, she was fine when I left for work. They gave her a bag of something injected under the skin and that helped her. They drew some blood and I took her home. The next day I was back at the vet first thing and they had blood test results. She had a bad infection somewhere and they shot her full of antibiotics. She also was found to be Diabetic. I went home with antibiotic pills and insulin to be injected twice daily. That was Saturday. I took her back in on the following Monday, and her blood sugar was right on the money and she looked much better. She lasted a week. She died of heart failure on Easter. I was devastated, and will never get over it.
    I was contemplating getting another Chihuahua, before Rita's death and I've been watching local reputable breeders for months. Within a week of her death I got not one but two female Chihuahua puppies. One long hair very small one named Daisy. One short hair named Patty. I had to do it, I was miserable. My older dog refuses to accept them. He runs upstairs to pout (they can't climb the stairs) whenever they approach him. I'm afraid in an unguarded moment he may hurt one of them. I hate to say it but that dog was left to me when my son moved out ten years ago and he has been a PIA ever since. He never accepted Rita and never played with her in 11 years. I'm afraid he's gonna have to go.

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