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Very sick poodle - congestive heart failure?

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Very sick poodle - congestive heart failure?
  • I'm really reaching the point of despair over my older poodle mix and am hoping someone in the forum might be able to give me a bit of hope.  I took in a stray older poodle mix about a year ago.  My brother rounded the corner onto his street and saw some kids swinging something in a pillowcase.  He slowed down to check it out and they threw the pillowcase infront of his car.  Thankfully he stopped in time as it contained a small poodle mix who was, miraculously, not injured.  Since he wasn't able to take it in, I did, and he is the sweetest baby in the world.  I know he's older - how old, the vet is not sure.  She suspects between 8 and 10 years.  He's very fiesty and has not has any physical problems other than a bit of arthritis in his hind legs which does not affect his regular activity.
    In April we moved to a new apartment surrounded by many trees and when he started sporadic coughing/"snickering" and occasionally spitting up clear mucus I expected that, like everyone else in my family, he suffered from seasonal allergies.  However, by the end of May this coughing/snickering increased, as did the spitting up of mucus and he began to lose a little weight.  We took him to the vet and was told it probably WAS allergies and to give him Benadryl as needed, and to put him on puppy food to help him gain weight.  He was only 6lbs then. He slowly began to lose more and more weight and we kept taking him to the vet but no clear diagnosis was ever given.  He continued to lose weight despite me increasing his meals and even giving him extra treats, and he gradually began to spit up more and more clear mucus.  He doesn't do it regularly, but it is usually daily -- after going outside in the morning or early afternoon and sometimes light congestion in the middle of the night.  He's still very active and chases out greyhound mix constantly but can't seem to stop hacking up the mucus.  We took him to the vet yesterday and was told that he probably has congestive heart failure and is basically dying! He's now 5lbs and skin and bones.  The vet didn't even recommend drugs or anything like that as she felt his serious decline in weight is so pronounced. He has a very healthy appetite, wags his tail and is energetic and runs with our other dog (although now I try to curtail that so he doesn't get so excited).  There are no other symptoms like lethargy or seizures or depression or anything like that.  To top it off, the vet says his lungs sound clear!  If he has a strong appetite (though he is losing weight) and his lungs are clear, could it possibly be something else?  How can a dog be so close to death -- as we've been told -- and still eat so much and be so active?  We've basically been told that he's getting close to the end, but that as long as he's happy like he is, we shouldn't stress about when to make the decision to let him go.  I've been beside myself with worry and can't stop crying!  Other than the symptoms I've described he doesn't seem ill, and although I'd never want him to get to the suffering stage just because I don't want to see him go, I just feel like I'm sitting here waiting for him to get to that point.  The vet said to check his weight every 4 to 5 days and if he loses another pound then we should consider letting him go but I'm absolutely sick over this!  I'm trying to "beat the clock", so to speak, and help him put on the weight but with next-to-no real diagnosis and such generic symptoms I'm just at my wit's end.  Has anyone else ever experienced this sort of sickness in their dog, or maybe someone has a recommendation or suggestion I haven't considered.  Any, and I mean ANY, advice or suggestions would be so greatly appreciated.  This little guy's been in my life such a short time, but he's like my shadow -- follows me everywhere and has so much love to give that I am finding this whole situation excruciatingly difficult.  Thank you in advance for your compassion and help!
  • Were any test done at the vets?  If it's the heart did he mentions doing a EKG to find out what's going on with the heart, or even an ultrasound or bloodwork?  It's sad that vet didn't even try to give you hope.  I would get a secound openion from anouther vet.  From the way he was treated before he was saved by you, every breath he takes in while in good company is worth living.  If you know it's heart failer maybe you can find a specilst in your area who can treat it, or at least extend his life that much longer.  I know it's hard to even think about "letting him go" but at least before you do you should know you did everything you could for the little guy.  I really hope the best for your poodle.  What is his name?
  • You need to find another vet right away.  My Rusty had CHF and was supported with meds.  The lungs would NOT be clear with CHF and the weight loss could be from any number of things including parasites.  The fact that he eats enthusiastically tells me that he's not as sick as she's saying...Rusty always had to be coaxed to eat in his last years.  I'm betting his full of some sort of parasite that's robbing him of the nutrients he's getting.  Yes, he may also have CHF, but it honestly doesn't sound like it.  Please find another vet for him.
  • If he's eating and seems okay otherwise and is just losing weight he could have a hormonal problem of some type.  He really needs to have blood work and more testing done.  With congestive heart failure the lungs would not sound clear.  X-rays should be done to see what his lungs look like and his heart.
  • Get a new vet. CHD is very treatable. Maddie, our office dog, is on meds for CHD, and is doing just fine. Granted she is much older (13 and a bearded collie).
    Did your vet run a fecal or any bloodwork? I would request that if you cannot get a new vet.
  • Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond.  I'm very appreciative!  We took Duke back to the vet and had another series of tests done, including heartworm and regular parasites.  The only oddity is a slight imbalance in the bacteria levels in his feces, but the vet said it was not really out of the ordinary.  I *did* think of something that hadn't occured to me before.  In April I began to use Hartz Flea and Tick drops on Duke, and have done so since.  Coincidently or not, that is at the same time that he began to develop whatever condition he has now.  Although he does not have any sort of skin condition associated with the drops, I'm wondering now if perhaps his inhaling or licking himself during this period may have caused whatever he's got now.  I'm going back to Frontline from now on.  Meanwhile, the vet said that Duke's lungs are clear.  That's what she told us in June, as well.  Now, I'm no doctor or vet, but I would think that congestive heart failure would certainly produce mucus/phlegm in the lungs.  And now, I'm noticing that his nose appears stuffy although there is no discharge.  It seems like he kind of sniffles back the stuff in his nose and then eventually gags it up.  The thing that most upsets me is his weight loss.  If I could get that under control right now, I think I would feel more hope.  The vet said to feed him whenever he wants to eat, so I have been giving him his food about 4 times a day now, for the last three days.  Hopefully he can gain something, anything! 
  • Why don't you PM CallieCriturs?  She seems to most knowledgable about everything including holistic.
    My dog just died of a heart tumor and arrythmea.  She never coughed or spit up anything. She had it for 3 months.  Her symtoms were just lying down in places she never did before like the foyer, and panting hard in this horrible summer heat, more than a bulldog ususally pants.
    You could get a refferal to a cardiologist to get an exam if you can afford it.  If it is the heart there are heart meds that aren't too expensive.  Holly's cost about $100 every 3 months.
    The losing weight - thyroid (hyper) perhaps?  maybe you need Dr/ Jean Dodds test done.
    Bless you for caring for this dog, I'd like to smack those kids that did that to her.
  • Update on Duke:  Took Duke back to the vet on Wed., 8/30 and he's GAINED a pound!  Even though he is still spitting up foamy phlegm from time to time, I maintain that if he is eating like a horse AND gaining back the weight due to more frequent feedings, he cannot be on the verge of death as we were informed.  Maybe it's bacterial or heart failure or maybe they just can't figure it out but in any case, Duke must have something left in him and not be AS sick as the vet purported if he's able to put the weight back on.  I'm noticing that it seems his congestion is NOT from the lungs (as the vet several times stated that his lungs were clear, despite heart failure diagnosis) but from his nose/sinuses(?).  I notice he will spit up/vomit the phlegm-y stuff after eating or drinking water so I think this may have been misdiagnosed.  If it's from his lungs his nose wouldn't be stuffed up as it is.  Also, he responds well to Benadryl whenever I give that to him and I doubt that if it were congestive heart failure alone that an over-the-counter med like that would be effective.  I just thank God I did not give in and put him down.  There's still life in him yet!  Thanks again to everyone for the advice and encouragement.  So glad I found this forum.  I learn more from the postings than the vet OR pet health sites!