8 Year old dog diagnosed with cardio myopathy

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My wonderful 8 year old dog became lethargic and was wheezing. To our shock, he was in congestive heart failure. He was diagnosed with cardio myopathy.

The immediate crisis has passed for now but the key is to get his fractional contractions higher (I was told 35% is normal, he is hovering around 15%).

The problem is, when we put him on digoxin, his numbers went up but he refused to eat— for a week! We took him off digoxin and he began eating his numbers dropped from 18-14%. We’ve started him on digoxin again but I’m afraid he’ll stop eating. Sometimes the only thing that he’ll eat is a small can of cat food. Is it harmful to give a dog (and he”s a big dog) cat food… or is better to get something in his stomach rather than nothing at all?

I’m so worried that in trying to help him, I may be harming him.

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Asked on June 10, 2015 7:12 pm
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Your instincts are correct, it is far better to eat something than nothing at all! This problem with digoxin is usually dose related, in other words lower the dose and the appetite should improve. Then measure fractional contractions and see if there is improvement on the lower doses. You can also measure the digoxin level in the blood stream and see if it is at therapeutic levels. Fractional contractions are only one aspect of treatment, don’t chase this to your dogs detriment. The other drugs used for cardiomyopathy, such as enalapril and furosemide, may offer short term relief on their own.

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Posted by Dr. Gaylord Brown
Answered on June 10, 2015 7:15 pm
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