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We have an 11 year old Shepweiler dog who recently started coughing over the last few months. The cough seems to come and go, but is usually worse in the morning or evening. He is still happy, eating well and walking well. We took him to our vet who detected a grade 3 heart murmur when listening with her stethoscope. She referred us to a cardiologist, and quoted us $3000 for blood work, echocardiogram, x-ray and consultation (our dog would have to be sedated for the echo). My wife and I are not sure we want to put our dog through a day of stressful tests, and the $3000 fee is also something we weren't prepared for. We wonder if the vet could treat our dog with medication without the echocardiogram/x-ray? They would be speculating as to what the heart condition is without imaging. We definitely would not consider surgery for our dog at this stage. Any advice or thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks
 

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It seems to me that the vets will need to identify the cause of the murmur before they can decide on a course of treatment that addresses the underlying cause. The murmur itself is a sign of an underlying disease, it is not the actual disease.

I'm not a doctor but I know if it were MY heart I wouldn't want to cardiologist to just "guess" what the underlying disease might be and then just start "doing things". Apart from the obvious risks of doing that, once you start treatment you want to have confidence in a successful outcome.

As for medical insurance for the dog, it might be too late to get him insured at this point to mitigate your costs but you can still look into it.

Finally, the $3000 for testing is bound to be the tip of the iceberg. Personally, I would only go through with the testing if you are also willing to go through the treatment. I think it would be wise to sit down, possibly with input from the vet, to make a budget for the whole shebang so you know what sort of bandwidth of costs you're looking at in total.

At this point I think getting some honest advice/information from the vet and maybe a second opinion might be the best first step before making any decisions.
 
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