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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a little 8 year old Chihuahua who has the beginning stages of heart disease. She has a grade 2 heart murmur and a bit of plaque on one of her valves. She has had it for at least a year (maybe 2-3 years) and has no symptoms and is not on any medication.

She has quite a bit of tartar build-up on her teeth. The tops of her white teeth are now a yellow-y brown so she needs to get her teeth cleaned. However, that means she needs to get sedated with anesthesia. I am wondering what are people’s experience with their dogs with heart disease and dental cleanings? Is it worth the risk? I am so scared that she will not make it out of the anesthesia alive. I know that even completely healthy dogs die during dental cleanings so it makes me more nervous to get her teeth cleaned now that I know her heart is weak. But of course I know she can get worse diseases and problems if she does not get her teeth cleaned.

If anyone is wondering, her teeth were last cleaned about 5 years ago but her teeth really weren't that bad until a few months ago. Vets kept saying she could wait to get her teeth cleaned but now they are saying she really needs it done.

Also, if I do get my dog’s teeth cleaned it will be with a veterinary dentist.


I am just looking for people’s experiences with their dogs with heart disease getting dental cleanings. Like, did you opt out of a dental and why?

Or did your dog get a dental and everything was fine?

Also did you get your dog checked out by a veterinary cardiologist before getting the dental done?

I would just like to know any and all information you could give me on dogs with heart disease getting sedated dental cleanings. Thank you :)
 

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My dog is a "nearly grade 4" and just had several dental extractions. The vet consulted his cardiologist. They looked at an x-ray. He didn't have an echocardiogram until three weeks after the dental. No heart enlargement yet. Thank goodness.

Have someone listen to his murmur. Find out if the grade has changed. I've been lead to believe that the lower grades are fine for surgery. Your dental vet or your regular vet should be able to help you decide whether a consult is necessary.

My dog won't see the cardiologist again for a year. I am counting his respiration weekly. Always keeping an eye out for changes.

If your dog doesn't have breathing problems and enlargement, it should be fine. I was really worried but I got to spend recovery week marveling at my goofy dog who thought his meds were candy. Tasty, tasty candy.

Good luck. I hope it's easy peasy for you.
 

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I have had several dogs with heart disease, and now have an 8 yr old with a 3-4/6 murmur. She is on meds now. Her heart is pressing against an already compromised trachea (collapsted trachea) She's had teeth cleaning, and probably will need another next year. The gas anesthesia is really safe. All the dogs that went through it came out fine. Some vets want the dog to be on antibiotics PRE dental as well as post dental.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you for the reply!

I don't know if her heart is enlarged, but I will find out.

What does that mean to count respiration?

My dog kind of has breathing problems and will occasionally make a cough-y gag sound like there is something in her throat but I am pretty certain it is related to her environmental allergies. I have told her vet about it and he wasn't concerned so it is probably not because of her heart.

I am glad your dog's dental went well :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Susan, that is great to hear. I am sorry about your dog's heart and trachea but that is great that her dental cleanings go well.

Thank you for the reply :)
 

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Thank you for the reply!

I don't know if her heart is enlarged, but I will find out.

What does that mean to count respiration?

My dog kind of has breathing problems and will occasionally make a cough-y gag sound like there is something in her throat but I am pretty certain it is related to her environmental allergies. I have told her vet about it and he wasn't concerned so it is probably not because of her heart.

I am glad your dog's dental went well :)
My dogs have a variety of gagging, choking, reverse sneezing type noises. I had to watch youtube videos to see what heart related coughing sounds like. It's a little confusing.

I am watching for changes like coughing, fatigue and increased respiration. Changes mean I take him back to the cardiologist for reevaluation.

Every Sunday, I count how many times he breathes in during a 30 second period and multiply that by 2. It gives me his respiration rate per minute. He has to be resting so I do it while he's relaxing in my lap. He's doing great. He averages a 20. I write it in a chart the cardiologist gave me but she also said there are apps for it.

I forgot about the antibiotics. Dogs with heart disease, just like people, take antibiotics before and after dental procedures. Thanks for the reminder, Susan.

Daisy, when I took my 7 year old grade 3/4 murmur pup in for a dental, I also took in my 12 year old Chihuahua and 17 year old cat. The cat got too high but all else was fine. It usually is fine. Just choose vets you can trust and find out if you need to see a cardiologist.

I spoil him a little bit when I get worried about the future. Makes me feel better.
 

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The typical cough in a heart patient is exactly what you are describing---a hackey, cough ending up in a gag. Sometimes if they are really bad, they can vomit. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The typical cough in a heart patient is exactly what you are describing---a hackey, cough ending up in a gag. Sometimes if they are really bad, they can vomit. Good luck.
That is weird because my dog had been doing that exact thing for years, even before anyone heard a murmur. I wonder if she has had heart disease her whole life? I had changed vets and her new vet is the one who heard the murmur. I told the vet she makes a gag sound like there is something stuck in her throat and he wasn't concerned. My dog used to throw up when she was a puppy then stopped for a long time then started throwing up bile then stopped doing that for the last 2 or 3 years.

That worries me now though, because I guess she is symptomatic, then? She doesn't gag when she is playing or walking, she will just randomly do it when she is just lying in her bed. And she rarely does it. I think in the past six months she has done it 4 or 5 times.

I'll talk to the vet about her gagging again. I am bringing her in to see him next month to get titer tested, so I will ask him about it then. Thank you for telling me! I didn't know what heart related coughs sounded like.
 

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A 'heart' related cough is very harsh and sounds different than a reverse sneeze. I wonder if you can google it? Almaviva describes pretty well. She found a u tube video of the cough. The dog almost always ends the cough with a gag. Sometimes a little fluid comes up, but most times not. Then they may start all over again.

I had to take my chi, Zarita, to the ER 'cause she couldn't stop coughing. She even vomited with it. The vet gave her a shot. She had no fluid in her lungs, just tracheal irritation from the heart pressing on it. She is now on vetmedin for the heart, and theophylene for the trachea. (her trachea is collapsted also that alone makes her struggle to breath when she is coughing.) She is doing well on these meds. She also has codeine in case she does start coughing and doesn't stop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Aw I'm so sorry about your dog :(

My dog's gag coughs aren't harsh sounding. It is comparable to a person who got something stuck in their throat like mucus or drainage that they are trying to clear with a light cough and then she ends it in a gag. Or sometimes it is just a straight gag with no coughing at all. My dog's vet has never heard fluid in my dog's lungs. I will talk to him about getting an x-ray to see if my dog's heart is pressing on anything.
 

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Aw I'm so sorry about your dog :(

My dog's gag coughs aren't harsh sounding. It is comparable to a person who got something stuck in their throat like mucus or drainage that they are trying to clear with a light cough and then she ends it in a gag. Or sometimes it is just a straight gag with no coughing at all. My dog's vet has never heard fluid in my dog's lungs. I will talk to him about getting an x-ray to see if my dog's heart is pressing on anything.
I can't find the youtube videos I thought were helpful. There are other ones. Just search heart disease or murmur and cough and dog.

My heart healthy chi reminded me of something yesterday. She had a cough and gag fit yesterday that lasted a few minutes. She has it maybe six times a year after drinking or eating. Sounds just like the heart cough because it's a trachea problem.

It would be confusing to have a dog with a minor trachea problem and heart disease. I don't think a heart cough would resolve quickly and only show up every few months but it's worth mentioning to every vet. Susan's example of a non-stop problem is easier to understand and a good example. Don't wait for a persistent cough to resolve by itself. I have two ER vet facilities that I trust. Know in advance where your ER is located.

Thank you for sharing your experiences, Susan! When my dog's diagnosis was brand new, personal experiences on the internet, and here on Chi People, made me feel so much better about everything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The ER closest to me is kind of a drive and it is not very good. Where I live everything is far apart, it is a bummer. One of the reasons I don't like living here...
My dog has never had a persistent cough. It is always just maybe 3 seconds of coughs and gags. I gently pat her back and it stops. One time she was doing it and acting like she was trying to swallow something but couldn't, so my mom quickly syringed water into my dog's mouth and my she stopped. That's what makes me think her coughing is allergies.

Yeah these personal experiences really help me, too. Especially when I read of a lot of dog's with heart disease that lived to be 17-18 years old. One dog that lived to be 17 never took heartworm preventatives so I wonder if that contributed to the long life though. My dog takes Sentinel which I hate giving to her but I am scared of her getting heartworms. There are so many hard decisions that go with owning a dog!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
If anyone is wondering, I think this is what I am going to do:
First I am going to have my dog thoroughly evaluated by the cardiologist at my state's veterinary university. If he or she says her heart is fine for anesthesia then I will go back to the university about 3 weeks later for the dental cleaning which will be done by the university's vet dentist and the anesthesia will be done by one of the university's vet anesthesiologists.

I took my dog in to see a vet dentist today and she said that she really does not believe anything will go wrong with my dog because her heart disease is so mild. She also said she has never had a dog have any problems or die where the dog had the same problems that my dog has. She said she can't even recall the last time she has had a patient die during the dental because it was so long ago. I am not going to have this vet dentist do the cleaning though. I just went to her to see what she thinks about my dog's teeth and heart to get an opinion from someone who does cleanings and anesthesia on high risk animals often.

I did LOADS of reading and research and I am feeling better about getting a dental done but only because I will have a board certified veterinary anesthesiologist there doing all the sedation and monitoring. I think that most deaths happen because the vet technician doing the anesthesia just is not very experienced and they do not monitor everything very well before, during, and after the procedure.

Obviously I am still nervous. I am going to do some more reading and research and I have sooo many questions for the anesthesiologist. So I am not 100% on my decision but I will most likely be doing what I said above.
 
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