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Readers Respond: Tell us about your pet's heart disease

Responses: 46


17 year old cat gets Fortekor

My cat is 17 years old and last month...she was panting and breathing heavily..i thought she was coughing up a hair ball...but i could see that she was in trouble...so i took her to emergency vet.. anyway turns out she has congestive heart failure..they gave her diuretics to remove fluid from the lung which is common in congestive heart failure and sent her home after she revoered normal breathing and then prescribed fortekor 2.5 mg once a day, along with furosemide (diuretic) to prevent fluid in the lungs and plavix to prevent blood clot...so far she's doing great..heart failure doesnt have to be a death sentence for your cat or dog...it can be controlled and give them longer life.. sentence...properly controlled medication such as fortekor can greatly extend the life of your pet
—Guest James


Hachi was being raised as a leader dog for the blind:). At one of his check ups they discovered a murmur. At 7 months old we were told after a full cardiac work up he has a severe case of congenital Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia grade 5! He seems fine:). He has become a "career changed" leader dog/ dropped from leader dog program and we were given the choice of adopting him. My 14 y/o daughter has been in charge of him and decided she wanted him to ensure that his last days are happy! This is her second leader dog she has raised. Just days prior we decided to buy her, her own lab that she could keep because she has been so successful raising star leader dogs despite the 60% graduation failure rate. Consequently my daughter is raising a little 7 week old lab and ensuring a 7 month old lab stays healthy and happy as long as possible:). Did I mention my son her oldest brother was also born with congenital heart disease and has open heart surgery and will require it his entire life:(. Onurse
—Guest Hachi

Success Story

My Australian Shepherd was diagnosed with congestive heart failure November 19. He had some kind of seizure (which in retrospect was actually fainting) and then coughed all weekend. We took him to the vet as soon as it opened on Monday. After chest x-rays and an EKG, the vet put him on Vetmedin, digoxin, enalaprin and lasix. It's June 20 now, and he is doing great! He still coughs occasionally and can't go for long walks, but he is perky and happy. We started feeding him anything he wants (to give him something to look forward to - meals!) We always let him dictate the length and speed of his walks. If he overexerts himself, he will faint (which rarely happens now) He turned 15 in March, and the way he is going might live forever! After he was diagnosed, he would cough all night. The longer he is on the medication, the less he coughs. We are very careful to make sure he gets the medication at the exact right times. We missed a few pills once, and that was a mistake.
—Guest Ricky

Myrna Loy HCM

Our cat, Myrna Loy, has HCM. Diagnosed at 8 months w/unrelated infection and was given steroids which brought out HCM-hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Near death. Saved by vet/cardio. On five meds-Plavix, lasik, atelenol, enalpril, sprinolactone; COQ10, lysine, and vitamine paste as supplements to heart care. Doing very well! Now 2 yrs, 2 months. Take disease seriously. Get echo if cat has murmur to determine heart disease/extent of murmur; get as many meds as you can; keep cat calm, happy, stress free. Keep away from noise and disruption. Keep routine. Watch breathing, lethargy, ability to move about, energy. She has Facebook page (Cats and HCM) and blog (Cat Living w/HCM).

Just diagnosed

our female dog just got diagnosed with heart failure and the vet told us she will go within a week...she is 9 and does not seem that sick. We were told to put her down since there is no cure and she has very little lung left. We are giving her lasix now and she seems the same. Coughs when active otherwise somewhat quiet these days( that is why we brought her in).

Congestive Heart failure

Maggie Emmaline my little Pug was diagnosed with heart failure about 1 year ago. She did a lot of coughing, gagging and it seemed harder for her to breath. She was put on Salix and Benazepril and did fairly well until about a week ago. I took her back to her vet, had 2 more X-rays and 2 other meds were added, theophyline and torbutrol. She kept me awake most of last night with hyper breathing, anxiety, restlessness, agitation and obviously sleeplessness. I cut back on the meds and will call the vet today. I know her days are numbered but it would be extremely difficult for me to have her life taken away.
—Guest William

Feline Heart Disease

My Namir was diagnosed with a heart murmur characteristic of developing heart disease when he came to me at about age 4. He was basically asymptomatic except for a steadily increasing arrhythmia until age 11 when he had his first episode of congestive heart failure. He had a compromising condition of idiopathic cystitis and the occasional retention of fluids, or the dose of sub-q I gave him which helped flush him out, obviously affected his heart function. He survived this and other episodes at least twice yearly for the next four years, returning to normal after a day in the oxygen tent. In his last year he was no less active but progressively lost body fat, and did not recover fully from the CHF two months before he died of one last bout, though he was still active, alert, hungry and his excessively loving and silly self. He had no time for any disease. I wrote about him on my blog and website: http://portraitsofanimals.wordpress.com/2009/07/13/not-a-bad-deal-on-a-pre-owned-cat/

My sweet Mia died of heart failure this

My beloved cat just died two days ago from heart failure. The acute failure occured quickly. We had her put to sleep in order to not prolong her suffering as she was having extreme difficulty breathing and her tongue and gums were grey/white. She seemed fine all day- only in the evening did I notice she had rapid breathing. An emergency visit to the vet, where I was told she was dying. Only in hindsight, are we now able to point to indications of the disease: a couple of incidences of coughing, which went away just when we thought we had better take her to the vet to see if something was wrong. A gradual weight loss which was considered ‘unalarming’ by our vet when we asked about it. I miss her so much. She loved me. I used to whisper to her, ” we really love each other, don’t we Mia”. I am desolate. I am so alone without her.
—Guest D.M

Take your vet seriously.

my cat was diagnosed with a heart murmur over a year ago. I was told this could be serious in a cat so young. He was around 3 and a half. the vets suggested an ultra sound that sounded awfully expensive. He seemed fine and I was suspicious that maybe they were just trying to get more money out of me. Other factors played into me not paying attention to his changes in character. I took another cat in that he did not like so he took to sleeping in the kitchen on his perch near the window. I moved from a place that was off the road to a place close to a street, so I kept him in. I was unaware of him becoming more lethargic because he was because he stayed in more. I regret not exploring his heart pro blems now because he recently got a clot and the only human thing was to put him to sleep. He was in great pain in the end. Were there drugs I could have given him to extend his life? He died at 5 years old.
—Guest Ann Jones

Cooper's HCM (revision)

We didn't proof our comments very well...our other two cats do NOT have heart disease. Of note, Cooper was diagnosed at age 2-1/2 yr old & just turned 7 yr old. With over 4 years of treatment, our results have been remarkable. Based on the severity of the murmur & echocardiogram results at the beginning, he would surely have been a victim of HCM "sudden death" while playing. We are forever grateful to our vet who said, "Let's just check him over while he's here." That was the life saver, for sure, since Cooper had no symptoms at all.
—Guest SherryB

female cat, aortic thromboembolism

A few things were off. My cat looked flushed (area around eyes were red), had labored breathing and pooped on the bed which for her is out of character. She also didn't resist the carrier. Her front limb was also unresponsive and after tests and x-ray, the vet diagnosed it aortic thromboembolism (saddle thrombus). A cursory search produces grim stats: low survival, high rate of recurrence, pain/quality of life assessment. It seems extremely painful and it's hard, if possible at all, to regain proper circulation and mobility again in the affected limb. Unfortunately, she had a recurrence within 2 days. I just fear what if I hadn't thought to take her to the vet that night? She really looked calm almost, considering how much pain she was in (between the episodes). Sometimes the signs aren't very obvious, but if you sense it, you're most likely not wrong. Stats on my cat: Female DSH. 9 YO. White, pinpoint coat. Blue/greay eyes. 2 prior episodes of anal gland abscess. Heart murmur.
—Guest talkativecatmom

heart disease in cats

Reynard was only 2 y/o when he became very lethargic and had difficulty breathing. He was misdiagnosed, first as having lymphoma, then w/chylothorax. After euthanasia was recommended (third vet), he had an ultrasound and several very expensive tests (fourth vet) that revealed his congenital heart defect. He lived several happy months with frequent thorocentesis and medications, including vetmedin and salix. It was a heart-breaking road to travel, very costly and devastating when he died, but I wouldn't have missed having this kitty in my life. He was the epitome of joy and courage.
—Guest Alma

Cooper's HCM

Our cat, Cooper, is a part Maine Coon shelter "kitz," and one of the Maine Coon traits he inherited is the HCM. Cooper did not display any symptoms prior to diagnosis. He was at vet for unrelated issue & she said let's just check him over. (Our vet had been seeing him since he was 6 weeks old) Our shock was when he had a grade 5 (6 is worst) murmur. Next thing we now we are at the vet cardiologist's 2 hr away. Diagnosis: hypertrophic "obstructive" cardiomyopathy. Long story short, with heart meds twice daily, & an 81 mg aspirin every three days, his last echocardiogram in July showed remarkable results! His murmur is now at a grade 1, and the heart walls have decreased in thickness to within normal range!! Wow! We are blessed, as he just turned 7 yr old this week and runs around with our two other "kitz" with signs of heart disease. As with all our adoptees, we are committed to giving them the best nine lives possible, no matter what. We hope Cooper will continue to defy the odds!
—Guest SherryB


6 yr. old mutt dog 25-30 lbs. Long legged and slim (looks mini dob). Born with defective heart valve. Butch has developed a hacking cough, loss of appetite at times , throwing up,vicious mood swings, wants to lay in the floor stretched out. She is still very active outside but it seems like she overdoes it at times. Her vet is surprised she has lived this long. He was afraid she wouldn't come through surgery when it came time to spay her.
—Guest Jewel


she was coughing an gagging. She had a hard time breathing. Her vet put her on vetmedin. If she lives for five more days, then will know if the medicine works or not.
—Guest carol

Heart Disease

My canine friend, J Rielly, has recently displayed more symptoms of heart disease. Unfortunately being a 12 year old cocker spaniel he has displayed the reverse sneezing you spoke about, in one of your articles. He currently is on high blood pressure medication; so he has some obvious problems in the cardiac area. A question that I have is whether brushing his teeth can be of assistance to the problems of bad breath and anything else brought on by the heart disease? Is doing this just a cover for his underlying problem with his heart? I'm sure that what I'm contemplating is somewhat ridiculous; but I would like to keep him around as long as possible. I should also mention that not only does he have heart issues; but he also has many allergies which are often made worse by living here in Virginia. EDITOR'S NOTE: Teeth brushing only helps! http://vetmedicine.about.com/od/diseasesconditionsfaqs/tp/TP_dentaltools.htm
—Guest Moekay

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