Sammy the dog and his Congestive Heart Failure

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Back in early January, our dog Sammy developed a cough that wasn't going away like most dog coughs usually do, so I brought him to the vet. Of course, I was expecting a report of upper resiratory infection or even pnemonia, but I was shocked into speachlessness by a diagnosis of an advanced heart murmur and congestive heart failure.

Of course, I had no real idea what congestive heart failure (CHF) was, but any time you have the words "heart" and "failure" next to each other, it cannot be a good thing.

My simple layman's understanding of this is that the heart valve does not close properly, allowing the blood to go back into the heart. This requires the heart to pump harder, making it bigger and stronger, which actually makes it harder for the valve to work properly. This somehow leads to a problem of the body retaining fluids, especially in the lungs, which was what was leading to the cough.

If you talk to any vet about CHF they will be very circumspect about how long the animal can live with this condition. It seems that it really can be anywhere form weeks to many years if the drugs do a good job clearing out the fluid and reducing the load on their heart.

After that first visit, I came home with three drugs: amoxicillin, which is an antibiotic, just in case there was a URI; tussigon, which is a narcotic cough suppressant; and furosemide, which is a diuretic to help clear the fluids from Sammy's lungs.

This combination actually did a good job for a while.

To be continued . . .