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Discussion Starter #1
Hello my friends-

Well, Lucy has been in the family for 2 weeks and a day. The second night with us, I noticed her breathing was not what I considered normal. Similar to a an anxious human, her breathing was shallow, rapid, and had an erratic cadence. At times she breathed normally, deep and relaxed, but not consistently.

Last week, we made a trip to the vet and we had x-rays taken. Her pathways showed possible infection, or trauma from a previous illness such as kennel cough, etc. The vet started her on 3 weeks of Temaril P with hopes that this would clear up any residual infection, and get her over the hurdle.

My little angel went from passive to aggressive (towards other dogs), ate everything in front of her (which actually is an improvement) and double or tripled her water intake. Although I suspected these where possible side effects, I was not prepared for the urination in the house or incontinence during her sleep. With only marginal improvement in her breathing, I quickly made another vet appointment.

The doctor told us, yes, her aggression, excessive thirst, and incontinence would subside once we weened her of the medicine. Since we saw little improvement, the doctor believed this treatment was not working and that we needed to take blood samples.

During the course of the visit, the doctor had trouble locating her heartbeat, and finally found a strong thump, at a slow 60 bpm. Since this was way below normal, she took Lucy to the diagnostic room and gave her the equivalent of an EKG.

Lucy came back to the exam room, happy to see me, and the doctor looked me in the eye and said, 'I have never seen this in a dog before.' In a five minute test, her heart rate went from 60 to 140 back to 60 bpm with no change in stress. The waves on her test were not once consistent from one line to the next, yet were perfect for brief moments in time. Unless she had been experiencing extreme anxiety and exhibiting it in a physiological fashion, this meant something was obviously not right.

The doctor discussed a myriad of possibilities. First things first, we needed the results of the blood tests. If these were not conclusive, she informed me that we would need to consult a cardiologist as Lucy made need medication for Arrhythmia, a possible pacemaker, or any other number of heart related possibilities. So there we sat, Lucy and I with a brand new set of variables.

I am hopeful that we find something, but then again I pray it is minor and easily treatable. Lucy is happy in her new home, and we are more than elated to have her with us. I want her to have a fresh start, and a happy, healthy life. It is Monday as I type this, hopefully blood test results will be back today or tomorrow.

I know this is a long post; I just wanted to write with hopes that this may help someone with a similar situation, that someone can offer insight to me, or just to share with my new family at this forum.

Thank You.
 

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Has she been tested for heartworm? With a good, reliable test? Sometimes shelters don't have the funds to do so, and vets, unless used to working with shelter/rescues think that the dog has been tested.

http://www.heartwormsociety.org/article.asp?id=1143#diagnosis

http://www.marvistavet.com/html/body_diagnosis_of_heartworm_disease.html

Both links have information on testing for HW.

And if you have to go to a veterinary cardiologist, I will just say that they are completely amazing and would go to them myself if I had a heart issue!

Thank you for taking such good care of your new girl.
 

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Wow. that is really interesting. I'm sorry I have no insight to offer. I do wish you and Lucy all the best. Please let us know what you find out.
 

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Wow, that's a lot you two are dealing with right out the gate.
It sounds like she is really lucky to have found you!
Hopefully, it won't be too serious.
My dogs Totally freak when they go to the vet and I'm sure their
hearts race like mad also.
I would get a second opinion before I do anything drastic like get a pacemaker though.
The irregular hearbeat could very well be caused by the Temaril P.
It has a whole bunch of side effects.
I'd get her off of that drug and I wouldn't be surprised to see her heart come back down to earth.
Good Luck and keep us posted!
 

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Re: Lucy's health challenges, my 6 year old rescue

Could the medication have been affecting her heart rate?

Also, what did her lungs look like on the x-rays? Is there scarring on her lungs or what?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Re: Lucy's health challenges, my 6 year old rescue

Thank you everyone for your responses.

Lucy will get a heartworm test in a few weeks, 6 months after her previous test at the shelter. The doctor could not determine if the x-rays showed scarring or current infection, so she was given Temaril P to eliminate any infection if present.

In addition, the doctor did not indicate whether the medicine could affect her heart rate, but I will definitely ask the question when I speak with her about Lucy's blood test.
 

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Re: Lucy's health challenges, my 6 year old rescue

Lucy's initial blood test results were inconclusive, we are awaiting the additional heartworm test.

The doctor did not think the Temaril P would affect her heart rate.
 

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Re: Lucy's health challenges, my 6 year old rescue

My vet recommended that Lucy see a cardiologist. Since their rotation through our city was weeks away, I decided to take a road trip to Texas A&M's Small Animal Clinic.

After a day of test and observation, the doctor stated that her heart rate and waveforms were normal. Her lungs were clear, her breathing normal. However, the doctor did find a small leak at one of her heart valves. She suggested that we monitor this as the condition did not present symptoms at this time.

The Echo test did reveal a heartworm. The condition appears to be in its beginning stages. A subsequent blood test revealed she is negative, but her exercise intolerance and heavy breathing fit a positive diagnosis.

Texas A&M suggested two courses of action since the heartworm(s) seem to be in the early stages: 1. Give Lucy Heartgard to kill any baby worms, retest in six months to see if indeed the condition was treated early enough and corrected, this is low stress for Lucy, if not effective, then go to option 2, or 2. Start with the more effective, but more intensive, injection based heartworm treatment given to dogs that test positive, includes boarding and crating and watching for severe reactions, high stress for Lucy emotionally and physically, protocol has a high success rate.

The doctor's personal suggestion was the second, more aggressive approach. She stated that the treatment would be the definitive method, and that she would apply the same logic to one of her dogs.

In the end, it is my choice. The doctor stated that we are in a "grey zone" where both options are perfectly acceptable because her blood test was negative and her symptoms are not severe. I called my vet, and they suggest a middle ground: 3 months of Heartgard, then treatment.

My girlfriend and I have decided to treat her right away. However, our vet and the doctors at Texas A&M differ on their methods of treatment. Our vet prefers a 2 shot in 24hr. method w/ 1 month rest, Texas A&M suggests a split protocol: 1 shot w/ 1 month rest, followed by another shot with 1 month rest. They suggest this reduces the risk of too many worms dying at the same time and causing problems with her blood flow.

I will need to consult with both doctors to determine which of their preferred methods will be best for Lucy. We will then proceed immediately.

If you have any suggestions or similar experiences, please share.

Thank You.
 

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HW Tx ?? Re: Lucy my 6 year old rescue

Great job in getting to the bottom of this!

I believe there is a protocol that involves taking doxycycline for a month first to kill off wolbachia: http://www.marvistavet.com/html/body_heartworm_treatment.html

http://www.heartwormsociety.org/ has extensive info.

I am sure others will post but I like the split protocol. The worms can actually cause a reaction in a dog as well as clotting.

Good aftercare link: http://www.houstonsheltiesanctuary.com/heartworm_treatment_aftercare.htm

Best to you and Lucy.
 

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Re: Lucy's health challenges, my 6 year old rescue

Just wanted to second the vote for the split shot protocol. The few bad reactions/deaths I've heard of from heartworm treatment have all been after using the single phase (2 shots within 24 hours) protocol. We've used both and been fine (knock on wood!) but after hearing more sad stories, we've decided to go to the two phase protocol even in young and asymptomatic dogs. Just not worth the risk!
 

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Re: Lucy's health challenges, my 6 year old rescue

I love the Dr.s at A&M and have always valued their treatment approach above all others.

I would go with the split protocol too.
 

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Re: Lucy's health challenges, my 6 year old rescue

Wow - Lucy is one very lucky gal to have you and your girlfriend! Veterinary teaching hospitals are the best. I've gone to the Colorado State Veterinary Teaching Hospital for years when I have a difficult issue. They saved the eyesight of one of our dogs and removed a tumor from another dog. The tumor had been "sight" diagnosed by a specialist and determined to be malignant. I chose not to believe them and took her to Ft. Collins where it was removed, studied by three pathologists and determined to be benign. The head of the oncology unit emailed and called regularly and even followed up on her for 6 months after the surgery. I would definitely go with the protocol that they recommend.

Thank you so much for giving Lucy such a loving and caring home!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Re: Lucy's health challenges, my 6 year old rescue

Thank you for the replies, advice, and encouragement my friends! We have done a lot of research this weekend, and we meet with our local vet tomorrow. I will keep you posted.

Thank You.
 

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Re: Lucy's health challenges, my 6 year old rescue

We met with our vet. She agreed that following the split protocol would be in Lucy's best interest, since this was the preferred treatment of cardiologist.

She did recommend 3 months of Heartgard to take care of the baby worms before we start the major treatment. She offered to call and consult with the cardiologist at Texas A&M to make sure this combination of treatment theory would be suitable for Lucy's stage of Heartworm disease.

Texas A&M advised us to watch her exercise intolerance, and if her energy remains consistent, to follow thru with 3 months of Heartgard followed by the split protocol.

Now, we are all on the same page, and the treatment and protocol is confirmed. I am very happy with our local vet and Texas A&M, they really worked together to make this decision as easy as possible given its severity.

We will begin treatment in about 2 1/2 months.

Thank You for all of your support my friends.
 

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Re: Lucy's health challenges, my 6 year old rescue

We have begun Lucy's second round (2 shot) of heartworm treatment. It has been 4 days since her 2nd shot, and she is doing great!

The first round went well. I think the steroids may have been the most difficult part. She becomes very incontinent when taking them.
At times, it about broke my heart. She would wake up embarrassed that she had urinated in her bed, look at me with ears sideways, and seem to ask "Why am I doing this Daddy, what is going on?" It hurt me to see her in pain and scared by the whole process, but I assured her that we would be running again and playing ball before she knew it.

Even though we are in the first week of the second treatment, her energy level and mood has begun to improve every day. The staff at the vet clinic has told us how proud they are of her, that she is the model patient, and that she is just so sweet!

I was very nervous upon before we began heartworm treatment. However, I received great advice and assurance from members of this forum. If I can be of assistance to anyone about to go through the same treatment, or if anyone has questions, feel free to message me.
 
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