They seemed to think that having the surgery would reverse the damage and he would live a normal life.
Anyone with an enlarged heart, human or animal, their heart does not go back to normal size. I'm surprised they'd have told you that.
I still brought him right back to the U of M that afternoon and they weren't too concerned, but hooked up a 24hr Holter monitor to him thinking he might be having arrhythmia.
Fainting doesn't indicate "just" arrhythmias, but any heart condition that's gotten to the point where blood flow isn't getting to the head/brain.
I think your dog was a lot worse than you realized, and they didn't indicate to you that his heart enlargement was not reversible.
As you mentioned, he would have passed away young, unless it had been caught early (like this kiddos was) and the surgery done before the enlargement.
We've had a number of cardiac cases here in rescue so unfortunately I've learned a lot and had to learn a lot to keep them alive...plus one of my own dogs has developed a murmur (not pda, valve insufficiency) and has enlargement of his heart and CHF as a result.
To the person who said to just use meds, there aren't any, surgery is the only option, and I can't imagine letting a young dog die of basically congestive heart failure. It's a horrible way to go.
Yes, enalapril and vetmedin can ease the load off the heart in the case where surgery can't be done, or isn't going to be an option. It won't fix it, no, but those two drugs can prolong the life of the dog if surgery isn't being performed.
I never said it would "fix" the heart, but it can ease the burden on the heart. Sometimes a dog headed towards failure will be on those meds pre-surgically.
Your dog, in fact, once his heart was enlarged, should have been started on those same drugs. If he wasn't, that's probably why the heart continued to worsen even after the surgery, he was basically in heart failure at the time of the surgery and that doesn't go away after the surgery, unfortunately.
Patent Ductus Arteriosus in Dogs - Page 3
Medical treatment (furosemide, +/- digoxin) may be necessary before surgery if symptoms such as coughing or difficult breathing are present. These symptoms are typically caused by left-sided heart failure - the accumulation of fluid, or pulmonary edema, in the lungs.
When surgery is not an option, and heart failure has occurred, drug therapy with furosemide, enalapril or benazepril and digoxin is often prescribed. A salt-restricted diet is enforced.
My comment about not doing surgery was that surgery basically killed the puppy we had (her heart, we are told, fell apart during the surgery and she died on the table) and if we'd known that was going to happen, we'd have just kept her on the medication and she'd have lived longer (obviously) with just the meds. Yes, she'd have had the murmur but she'd have made it past 1yr. of age, anyway