+++ You live(d) together with a heart sick Labrador Retriever? Please get in touch with us! +++
If your dog gets diagnosed with some kind of heart disease, it’s obviously at first an enormous shock. The fact that such an illness mostly is inoperable, makes you feel helpless and extremely anxious. For a moment – even after weeks or months – a diagnosis like this sounds like an immediate death sentence. However that doesn’t have to be the case!
The course of the disease is affected by different things. Of course the sooner the heart disease is detected and the patient gets the right medicinal treatment the better. Even though this diagnosis breaks you down at first it’s also a blessing in a way – because knowledge is power! Many heart diseases are congenital, which means they have always been there. People may don’t recognized the disease until their young dog one day while rampaging just collapsed. By getting the diagnosis as early as possible you and your dog can adjust as best as possible to the heart disease. You learn how to handle your dog’s weakness, read signs of exhaustion better, adapt the everyday life better to your dog’s handicap and help him to deal with the symptoms caused by the disease.
How your dog specifically deals with his or her heart disease is of course from dog to dog and from disease to disease different and depends also on the severity code and the age at diagnosis. Also the owners react different to the illness of their dogs. We would like to advise you to treat your dog the same after the diagnosis than before. We know from experience that it’s not at all easy. Please try not to pack your dog in cotton wool regarding his education – he doesn’t know about his heart disease and it’s going to use your resilience shamelessly. We promise! Of course you can and you’re going to stretch a point but please do not pamper the dog – it’s not going to help either of you. Please do not let the diagnosis paralyze you! Please consider: the diagnosis is no enemy. It gives you the one in a lifetime chance to support your dog with the disease in the best way possible!
To begin with the right medication is very important. The adjustment to drainage medicine (diuretic) often is inevitable. As it’s name suggests this medicine helps dehydrate the dogs body to prevent symptoms of congestion. Consequencently the dog might excrete water more often and has to pee more and longer. The medicine doesn’t just take away water were it should, which means that the dog has to drink more, so you should have fresh water available for the dog at all time. It is important that you give the drainage medicine reasonable throughout the day so you won’t come home to surprises. For the (young) dog it’s difficult in the beginning to deal with the increased urgency so he might 'wet his pants'. However he’s going to learn after time to control the urgency.
Furthermore it’s advisable – if the dog engaged himself or you can arrange it in your daily schedule – to feed the dog three smaller meals a day because the digestion needs relatively much oxygen-rich blood. Even changing your dogs food into bland diet poor in table salt would be advisable. Changing your dogs food should be made smooth and in consultation with the attending cardiologist.
Schröder doesn’t even like two meals a day so he often just get’s one large portion (because otherwise he wouldn’t eat enough for the day). On days like this we make sure he gets a long resting phase after the meal so the body can concentrate on the digestion.
In addition you should avoid bigger physical exertion and stress (especially when it is hot outside). What exactly defines 'bigger physical exertion' varies from dog to dog, from disease to disease or rather from severity code to severity code. You should observe and learn to read individual signs of exhaustion, tiredness and overexertion. Especially during the warmer month, you should take your dog for a walk until the early or late hours and prefer several short walks than a big round.
If your dog likes to swim – like almost all Labrador Retriever do – you don’t have to forbid it. Of course swimming is to some extend exhausting but you shouldn’t take away your dog’s joy because of his handicap. Firstly, especially in the summer time, water is excellent to cool off your dog and secondly, water, as is known, makes it easier to exercise and makes your own weight lighter. To support your dog while swimming and to calm yourself down you can get your dog a life jacket. Your dog is going to be lifted more and you don’t have to exert yourself as much. Also you can attach a towrope to the life jacket so you can intervene right away in case of an emergency. Schröder wears while swimming the Hurrta Lifeguard life jacket and is optimally equipped with it.
Furthermore, when there are high outdoor temperatures, you can put a cooling collar on your dog which cools directly the artery and with it through the blood the whole body. Also there is the possibility for a cooling vest or cooling jacket in different types or various cooling blankets. In the internet you’ll find a great number of offers. Please ensure that while driving that your dog doesn’t overheat. Often you can’t feel the heat as much in the front seats then for example in the back of a station wagon.
In our opinion there’s also one thing important: Let the dog be a dog! Let him play and rage, let him scuffle and swim. He doesn’t know about his heart disease and probably learned over time (especially with optimal pharmaceutical application) to deal with it and to adjust. Obviously you should always keep an eye on him and to look for signs of exhaustion or increased symptoms and if necessary slow him down if he’s overestimating himself. The dog should enjoy his life – like every other dog does too! A cheerfully soul often contributes to a physically recovery as much as an optimal pharmaceutical therapy.
In regard to your dogs medical treatment we would like to point out to you that it is not mandatory to give your dog the veterinarian medicine you’re animal cardiologist prescribed but rather it makes totally sense to give your dog (if available) equivalent medicine for humans.
It is important that the active ingredient and the doses are identical!
The major reason for this recommendation is because of the low costs of medication for humans compared to veterinarian medicine.
Following we would like to list exemplary some treatments for tricuspid valve dysplasia that are used pretty frequently veterinarian medicine and the equivalent medicine for humans:
Veterinarian medicine: Fortekor (ACE inhibitor, high blood pressure medicine)
Active ingredient: Benazepril
Medicine for humans (for example): Benazepril AL, Benazepril HEXAL, Cibacen
Veterinarian medicine: Dimazon (loop diuretic, dehydration)
Active ingredient: Furosemid
Medicine for humans (for example): Furosemid-Ratiopharm, Diurapid, Furobeta
Veterinarian medicine: Prilactone (potassium-saving diuretic, dehydration)
Active ingredient: Spironolacton
Medicine for humans (for example): Aldactone, Jenaspiron, Verospiron
The differences referring to the price between veterinarian medicine and medicine for humans is enormous, especially because the affected dogs have to take the medications for a lifetime.
Unfortunately veterinarians aren't allowed to prescribe medication for human use when there is respective veterinary medicine available. If you have the possibility to receive a prescription for humane preparations elsewhere, please do not take action without consulting your pet cardiologist first.