Congestive Heart Failure

I wanna talk about CHF a little. What it means, what happened in my little family.

Long live the Queen

My 8 pound superstar over there, Maja, had CHF. But her story is a cautionary one. CHF, as far as I know, can present in a variety of ways. For Maja, it was her heart murmur. Through vet visits, I knew she had the disease. I didn’t even need the stethoscope. The murmur was loud enough to the naked ear. There are TONS of great resources online to educate yourself about CHF. If your dog or cat has this disease, take the time, learn. Our dogs don’t speak English. So we have to listen to their symptoms and be attuned to their being. What’s normal and NOT normal for them.

About 2 years before her heart finally gave out, something happened. She started having seizures.

Now who would think epilepsy was related to CHF? Not one single doctor we saw. Not the cardiologist with which we spent hours of testing. A very long and sordid horror story cut short, we put her on Furosemide. Seizures nearly stopped. The best we can guess, her lungs were filling up with enough fluid to stop her brain from getting enough oxygen. Thusly, causing the brain to skip. How I wish the cardiologist and everyone else could’ve made that leap. It would’ve given her, and me, a year of respite. A year of walks and clear lungs. A year of more hugs an kisses and less tests. I’m not a doctor, but I made that leap. With a shitload of reading, research, and imagination. But I digress. And I did have one doctor who considered her symptoms, though the fluid in the lungs wasn’t so loud, and made part of that leap with me. So after the script for Furosemide, Maja and I got a good 8 months of her life back. Thank you, doctor.

Listen to your pups. Pay attention. The right diagnosis and medication can give them and you a better life. I write this in the hopes that if I can help but one dog and their human, it was worth the time writing.

One last comment. This disease is known to perpetuate through Chihuahua (and other canine) blood lines. There is, as of this writing and by my knowledge, no surgical valve replacement option. Like there is for humans. By breeding these dogs, we are sentencing them to a disease that’s torturous, slowly progressing, and life-threatening. And I mean an early death. A suffocating death. An end of life that is sure to involve a lot of drugs. Now, given how beautiful and cute and wonderful we find these dogs, doesn’t it seem selfish that we would hand them this disease by continuing to breed? I have seen it, mutts really do have a better chance at good health. Doesn’t that seem less childish, selfish, more compassionate, grown-up? Just a thought…when will we grow up? And make decisions that benefit not only us, but our four-legged and two-legged loved ones?


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