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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hi all - newbie here!

Apologies in advance, this could be quite long and Im not even sure why Im posting.... venting, advice, anecdotes, comfort - anything I suppose?

Our JRT, Ren, is about 11. In the last year she has started to slow down a bit - we put it down to getting on a bit.
About 8 weeks ago, she was greeted by my husband when he came in, in her usual mental way and proceeded to have what he described as a seizure. she went stuff, sort of howled and evacuated her bowls. We got her to the vet the next day and she said Ren has a grade 4 heart murmer. She took blood tests and they all came back clear so we booked her in for x-rays.

In between the blood tests and the xrays, Ren ate a strawberry and out of excitement from running round and playing with it she had a bout of reverse sneezing. She has always done this so we werent to concerned. Usually after a few seconds if she hasnt stopped we shout "REN!" and she looks at you and stops. This time she didnt, she went into the garden and stumbled round and suddently coughed up something. She then fell forward and blacked out with sick coming out of her mouth. we both go into panic mode and as im in the front room trying to find the vets number, she is passed out in the garden with my husband. Anyway a minute later she comes trotting in, she had coughed up whatever it was and came round.

A couple of days later the x-rays showed that Ren has an enlarged heart, but its not pressing on her wind pipe and she has not got fluid in her lungs. The vet prescribed fortekor for her. About a week later she was sat up on the bed with me on a saturday morning having a cuddle when she slumped forward, i ran downstairs with her and she was all floppy and not doing anything. My husband held her and she had a poo and came round again.

So back to the vets it was, we couldnt get in til later that day, and when we did the vet said she had a good strong pulse but that her heart murmer is very strong. The vet prescribed vetmedin with the fortekor.

Then a fortnight ago she goes all quiet, wouldnt play with her dentistix and her breath stunk! We took her in last Tuesday to get them sorted - 11 needed to come out - deformed jaw and teeth. We always knew she had an undershot jaw and was a bit freaky in the mouth department as the teeth were growing all over. She was given Ketmain and Diazepam because of her heart problems to lessen the chance of not coming round with normal anasthetic (she was really freaked out on the Tuesday after she came round - not fun seeing your dog tripping her face off - but thats a different tale).

Friday she went in for a checkup and the vet was extremely pleased with her healing! I wasnt there, my husband was and he said the vet said, amongst other things) if she has any more fainting episodes to take her straight to the vets even if they are closed or busy as they can diagnose things better straight away. But I was thinking we had finally got her problems sussed...

Ok, so yesterday, I was sat in the back room and saw Ren outside sniffing around and then she started to vomit so we ran outside and she collapsed again. My husband picked her up and was calling her name but she had blacked out all floppy with vomit coming from her mouth. I told him to put her head down to let gravity help and she came round quite quickly.

When we looked at her gums they were white, so we knew it was her heart. In fact her skin tags were white as was the inside of her ears and the corners of her eyelids and her tongue was almost blue. We called the emergency vet and got her there.

By the time she got in, the colour was starting to return, but the vet said her heart murmer is a grade 5 and that she has arrythmia. Her heart has a funky pulse and basically she blacked out yesterday because she wasnt getting enough oxygen to her brain, so the brain shuts everything down to give the heart a chance. We need to get an ECG done to find out what causes it.

Today, she is very lethargic and just sleeping. Does anyone know if this is what usually happens after a dog has a blackout? Will it be because her heart is not back to its usual rythm? We have noticed in the last 8 weeks since it all started that she is up and down, some days very bouncy and normal and some days she is just lying around not doing anything :(
 

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Aw, I'm so sorry you and Ren are going through this.

The ECG should be done ASAP. I highly recommend finding a cardiologist near you to get this all done because I suspect she may need additional meds. They even may want to put a Holter monitor on her, which monitors her heart for a full 24 hours and would be helpful if she had a collapsing episode while wearing it to see exactly what happened. Personally, I'd also do an abdominal ultrasound to rule out anything that could be compounding it in there.

I suspect she's lethargic and sleepy due to the event yesterday. Have you ever passed out? You feel like crap afterward for a while.

While, based on the fact that she has a serious heart murmur etc I suspect it's heart related, has your vet totally ruled out a flat-out seizure/neuro issues? There is the possibility that Ren has a few things going on that are compounding one another. The first incident you describe sounds more like a seizure than a syncopal episode from her heart. Syncope usually is that they just pass out, limp.

The meds she's on are excellent heart meds but as you already know, she needs a more extensive work-up quickly.

Good luck, and welcome.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Aw, I'm so sorry you and Ren are going through this.

The ECG should be done ASAP. I highly recommend finding a cardiologist near you to get this all done because I suspect she may need additional meds. They even may want to put a Holter monitor on her, which monitors her heart for a full 24 hours and would be helpful if she had a collapsing episode while wearing it to see exactly what happened. Personally, I'd also do an abdominal ultrasound to rule out anything that could be compounding it in there.

I suspect she's lethargic and sleepy due to the event yesterday. Have you ever passed out? You feel like crap afterward for a while.

While, based on the fact that she has a serious heart murmur etc I suspect it's heart related, has your vet totally ruled out a flat-out seizure/neuro issues? There is the possibility that Ren has a few things going on that are compounding one another. The first incident you describe sounds more like a seizure than a syncopal episode from her heart. Syncope usually is that they just pass out, limp.

The meds she's on are excellent heart meds but as you already know, she needs a more extensive work-up quickly.

Good luck, and welcome.
Hi, thanks for the reply.

Yes we did wonder if she was probably feeling bad from yesterdays blackout. Ive never fainted so I dont know what its like. Is what she had the same as a heart attack?

The vet did say that she may not have an arrythmia when at the specialists and the heart specialist costs about £500 and even with the 24 hour scanner, it may not show up anything. I'm erring towards saving and getting it done though. I'd rather spend the money and find out so that everything we do is right and we don't miss anything rather than shrug and say "she has a bad heart", but money is finite as well.

Shes still flopped out on the settee. She had a little wander round the garden earlier but still a bit tiredy-head.

What would the abdominal ultrasound do? What kind of things would it / could it show?
 

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A very important question that I forgot to ask-- did Ren NOT have a heart murmur at her annual check up? When was her last annual check up?

The main thing I'd want to rule out with the abdominal ultrasound is a concurrent splenic tumor. Splenic tumors can sometimes cause arrhythmias. The fact that the heart itself looks enlarged on radiographs probably suggests otherwise but if it was only questionable large, then Ren's position when the xrays were taken could affect how the heart looks. I'm sure your vets have taken that into consideration... just playing a little Devil's Advocate here. But having a grade 5 heart murmur doesn't come about all-of-a-sudden. (Hence my questions at the beginning of this post).

Even if Ren doesn't have the arrhythmia at the specialist, the ECG will be able to see if there is a valve malfunction, the thickness of the chambers of the heart etc. The holter monitor may not show anything, you're right, but it's your best bet.

The episodes aren't equivalent to a "heart attack", per se. Could be due to lack of blood supply, the heart stopping for a second etc. Hard to determine-- this is where the Holter may help out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
She gets her checkup around May / June, we had just been saying before the initial seizure 'we need to get Ren in for her jabs'! so she was due anyway. When we went in the first time the vet said it was grade 4, when we took her in yesterday, the (different) vet said it was grade 5.

What does a splenic tumour look like / where is it? Because when she got her x-rays done, there was something in her stomach on the x-ray. The vet said it was something she had swallowed, if it was something dodgy it would be in a different place in her stomach.

The vet took 2 x-rays, one from the side and one from above. Her heart is definatley enlarged, the vet explained that the heart should be around 2 ribs worth of space, Ren tookup nearly 4. She also showed us another x-ray that showed her heart as the wrong shape (Hers was D Shaped instead of round, or round instead of D I cant remember).

Ah so its still a good idea for her to see the heart specialist even if there is no arrythmia on the day. ok, I think we will start to save for it then :)

thanks :)
 

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Did she have a murmur LAST May/June then?? Or was this year the first time it was heard...? Grade 4 or 5 since it was a different vet listening could be the same thing-- it's all subjective. Don't freak out that it got worse in the matter of a few weeks.

Something in her stomach is different than a splenic mass-- they should be able to see a difference. Ultrasound is better to monitor the abdomen though but if she had some big womping tumor I'd expect they'd have seen something on the xrays...

D shaped and "round" are both abnormalities, so I'm not sure exactly what they're referring to. 4 ribs is a bit large-- normal for a dog is 2.5-3.5 rib spaces. I think we're referring to the same thing.

Yeah, I'd save up too. Glad you're on top of this!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Did she have a murmur LAST May/June then?? Or was this year the first time it was heard...? Grade 4 or 5 since it was a different vet listening could be the same thing-- it's all subjective. Don't freak out that it got worse in the matter of a few weeks.

Something in her stomach is different than a splenic mass-- they should be able to see a difference. Ultrasound is better to monitor the abdomen though but if she had some big womping tumor I'd expect they'd have seen something on the xrays...

D shaped and "round" are both abnormalities, so I'm not sure exactly what they're referring to. 4 ribs is a bit large-- normal for a dog is 2.5-3.5 rib spaces. I think we're referring to the same thing.

Yeah, I'd save up too. Glad you're on top of this!
The first time we knew she had a murmer was 8 weeks ago. The last time she was in the vets was last year when we took her in with licky feet (she kept licking her paws and was making them sore!).

It might have been rib spaces, i ant remember tbh, but the number mentioned was definitely 4. If you are on facebook, I can add you, there is a photo of the xrays on there? And thinking about it, she got an ultrasound at the same time as her xrays, im almost 100% certain she did, but nothing was discussed about them because there was nothing to discuss! Ultrasound is like a baby scan right?
 

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Yes, ultrasound is like a baby scan. If she did have one, then great!

It sounds like your vet is on top of this, but it may be interesting for everyone if you could post the photos here!
 
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