Beagle Struggling with Heart Disease
Reevaluate Diagnosis & Treatment for Best Results
My 5 year old beagle has a grade 4 heart murmur. She is on 3 medications: furosemide, enalapril, and spironolactone. Do all these drugs really help, or just make her gain weight and add to her lethargy? I don’t take her on true walks anymore, as she tires so easily. She has a little bit of fluid in her lungs, but as yet is not coughing and to my knowledge has not passed out.
I’m sad about your beagle’s struggles. The medications she is taking are often safe and effective for congestive heart failure but I am concerned about symptoms this severe in such a young dog. Side effects may be responsible but there could also be undiscovered and untreated aspects to her disease. It’s time to have her reevaluated.
There is a long list of possible causes for a heart murmur. Beagles, in particular, can have a defect called pulmonic stenosis-a narrowing in the major artery that carries blood from the heart to the lungs. For the most current information I conferred with cardiology specialist Dr. Caryn Reynolds of the Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center. In addition to chest x-rays and an electrocardiogram she recommends an echocardiogram to determine if your dog’s heart condition is complicated by pulmonary hypertension: high blood pressure in her lungs.
Medication changes may be in order but if your girl has pulmonic stenosis her quality of life could be greatly improved with a minimally invasive technique called a balloon valvuloplasty. Her blood flow would increase significantly resulting in a much happier and more active beagle. The change would be quite noticeable-just think of all the howling you’ve both been missing.
In the meantime I advise limiting this girl’s exercise. If she is on the brink of cardiac failure she could collapse, or worst case, die suddenly. A low sodium diet will be important to help control her blood pressure. Weight management is essential to reduce the work load on her beleaguered ticker. From my perspective a 5 year old dog is too young for a life of TV, video games, and shuffleboard. Ask your veterinarian for a cardiology referral so this kid can get back in the game.