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Hello, this is my first post. I didn't put a post up yet introducing myself and I will do that sometime today but for now I have a couple of questions and some tough suggestions are needed.

I have had Chihuahua's my entire life. Currently we have 2. One is 12 and the other is 14. Our 14 year old is an 8lb tri color named Paco. He is our baby. He has been the best trouble free dog anyone could ever hope to have. About 10 days ago, out of the blue he had a very minor seizure. It lasted about a minute and he was back to normal. 5 days later he had another very minor seizure. We thought that it could be diet related because he shares food with our other chi who tends to eat most of the food. We switched Paco to Beniful and we feed him seperately and he has been fine. Because he had these 2 minor seizures we took him to the vet for a checkup.
The vet immediately checked his heart with a stethoscope and asked us if we knew that our little baby has a stage 5 heart murmur. Of course we didn't. He told us that he would have to do an echocardiogram and a chest X-Ray to see whats wrong but the person that does the echocardiogram comes in once a month and its going to cost $430.00 for the echo and $100.00 for the X-Ray. He didn't elaborate at all regarding the symptoms or what type of medication or the prognosis or anything. My wife was crying and I am very sad too. I went home and scanned the internet for similar stories and found a ton of them. Most of the stories I read and the info that I got online regarding heart murmurs all listed the stages and the symptoms related to those stages. At a stage 5 they list severe regurgitation, coffing, shortness of breath etc. Paco has none of these symptoms. If you looked at him you would think he is a happy healthy little dog.
I just don't know what to do. Back when I was younger we had a Chi that started having seizures at around 15 and the vet put him on some medications. These medications transformed our loving dog into a dog that was confined to a playpen and all he did was walk around in circles and deficate on himself. Sure, he lived until he was almost 17 but at such a cost!
We aren't rich, and I have the money for the tests for Paco but its money that I have saved just incase we need car repairs or another emergency arises. Its our emergency fund. There are 2 nurses at the vet. We know one of them really well. She told us that she wouldn't get the tests done. The other nurse told us that she would treat the symptoms as they arise and since there aren't any currently we should put Paco on a low sodium diet and enjoy our little baby for as long as we have him.
This is probably a very common story on this forum and I apologize for the long post but I just don't know what to do.
Thanks..
 

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Please try not to worry,my last Chi had a H/m for ten years and lived till he was 17 and that's not what killed him,he was put on medication and was fine,i hope yours will be the same.Welcome to Cp i'm sure you will get some more stories from people who have experienced the same as you
 

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Ok, if this dog were mine I'd do a couple of things. First I would get both of your Chi's off the Beneful. It's truly one of the worst dog foods you could possibly feed. There have actually been seizures and chronic diseases (kidney and liver disease) linked to it. Why is it still on the market? Because it is backed by the huge pet food conglomerates. And guess what - they really don't care. They are in the business of selling dog food. If you google "beneful problems" or a similar search string, you will find a TON of information on how this food has hurt pets.

You can go to dogfoodanalysis.com and look for better alternatives. That would be my first mode of action. If you are on a strict budget, you can feed Taste of the Wild or 4Health which are available at tractor supply (TSC) or feed stores and they are worlds better than anything you could get in the grocery store. But DEFINITELY ditch the Beneful, even if you do nothing else.

Secondly, I would find the $$$ to see the specialist and find out what's going on. That is just me, but I would definitely want to know what I was dealing with. Once you know, then you can formulate a plan. At that point you can make a decision on how aggressive you want to be. But you will have the information to make that decision. I take it that a board certified canine cardiologist comes to the clinic once a month? Get an appt. with him and then be up front. Tell him that you want to know exactly what is going on but you may want to be conservative with treatment. They will work with you. But I truly feel like you owe your dog this - knowing what is going on and not just ignoring it.

Only you can make the decision on how to treat this dog. But I would make the best decision I could based on the information available! If you don't have the tests, you don't know what you are dealing with. You can't make an informed decision based on what your vet heard with a stethoscope. I think further testing is warranted and then you can go from there.
 

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Very good advice given here. Just wanted to say hi and welcome to the board :)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Ok, if this dog were mine I'd do a couple of things. First I would get both of your Chi's off the Beneful. It's truly one of the worst dog foods you could possibly feed. There have actually been seizures and chronic diseases (kidney and liver disease) linked to it. Why is it still on the market? Because it is backed by the huge pet food conglomerates. And guess what - they really don't care. They are in the business of selling dog food. If you google "beneful problems" or a similar search string, you will find a TON of information on how this food has hurt pets.

You can go to dogfoodanalysis.com and look for better alternatives. That would be my first mode of action. If you are on a strict budget, you can feed Taste of the Wild or 4Health which are available at tractor supply (TSC) or feed stores and they are worlds better than anything you could get in the grocery store. But DEFINITELY ditch the Beneful, even if you do nothing else.

Secondly, I would find the $$$ to see the specialist and find out what's going on. That is just me, but I would definitely want to know what I was dealing with. Once you know, then you can formulate a plan. At that point you can make a decision on how aggressive you want to be. But you will have the information to make that decision. I take it that a board certified canine cardiologist comes to the clinic once a month? Get an appt. with him and then be up front. Tell him that you want to know exactly what is going on but you may want to be conservative with treatment. They will work with you. But I truly feel like you owe your dog this - knowing what is going on and not just ignoring it.

Only you can make the decision on how to treat this dog. But I would make the best decision I could based on the information available! If you don't have the tests, you don't know what you are dealing with. You can't make an informed decision based on what your vet heard with a stethoscope. I think further testing is warranted and then you can go from there.
We have been feeding our chihuahua's inexpensive dry kibble type generic dog food since they were puppies with no issues at all. We figured that "stepping up" to an "expensive" brand like Beniful would be a good thing.
Neither of our dogs eat any table food but they do love their doggie treats.
We put Paco on a low sodium diet to help out. I will tell my wife about the Beniful. Thanks.
I talked to the vet again this morning and he suggested to start off with a chest x-ray. He said pending the results he would probably start him off on a drug called Alipril? He then would give us his advice on the echocardiogram and what to do next. I scheduled the x-ray for this Friday. We already feel alot better. He is such a good dog and a great companion. He deserves it.
 

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I have to second that Beneful is really bad. I had a co-worker that used to feed it, and it was giving her bichon seizures. There is not a SINGLE good thing about the food it is utter crap.

Everyone else has already said everything I might say so I just wanted to say hope your little one is out of the woods sooner than later :)
 

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Zippy has a Level 3 heart murmur. The vet prescribed the medications Enalapril and Furosemide which he takes daily. We too are on a pretty tight budget but the good news is that both are available as $4 generic prescriptions at Target. You might want to ask your vet about these.
 

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is Beneful really that bad? My cousin buys that for her dogs. I will have to let her know :(
Welcome to the forum JGCable, I really hope your little one is going to be ok. Please let us know what happens. Nothing worse then having to go through what your going through.
 

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He had another minor siezure last night. Its so scarey. He lets out the saddest little whine and then stiffens out a little. He also urinated on himself. The siezure lasted about 40 seconds and he then was a little disoriented for about a minute. 1 minute later he was wagging his tail and as happy as a clam.
When we went to the vet he told us he didn't know if the siezures were related to the heart murmur. Because he has no other symptoms I have to think they are related in some way. I thought the vet said he had a stage 5 murmur but my wife told me he actually said he has a stage 4 or 5 murmur. We are bringing him in for an X-Ray on Friday and they might start him on Aprasil. We are not feeding him Beniful anymore. My wife bought some dry Immes dog food at the pet store. She also bought him some salt free treats.
 

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I can relate to your situation with the heart murmurs. Back in the late 1990's I purchased 3 long hair chihuahuas. Mon, dad and daughter. It turned out they all had issues with heart murmurs (genetically). They lived 11,12 and 14 years. I went through this with each dog. I am also a pharmacist an can give you advice about the medications.

A few observations. It is possible that your dog is not having seizures. The vet expalined to me that more than likely the dog passes out because the heart is not able to pump enough blood to the brain. My dogs would do this after they ran up the steps. They would be out cold. 5 minutes later, you would never know that there was a problem.

Normally they start the enalapril once a day every day for the rest of the dogs life. If the dog contiues to have more frequent problems, they bump the enalapril up to twice a day. This is a heart med that reduces the preload pressure on the heart. It will slow the progression of the murmor. It also somewhat helps the heart pump more effiently.

The furosemide is a diuretic (water pill) that helps remove any fluid build up in the lungs. Because of the poor circulation, fluid can build up in the lungs. If your dog has coughing or gasping spells the furosemide will help, but it can be hard on the kidneys. In early stages of heart murmurs you use the furosemide on an as needed basis for a few days after an episode. As the disease progress you use it daily every day and sometimes twice a day. Your dog will pee much more often when on this drug.

There are two other drugs that can be used. They sometimes use digoxin, another heart med that improves heart function. It is normally only used in the later stages. None of my 3 dogs had this. There is also a drug that until recently we could only get it in Canada, but now is available in the US. The name escapes me at the moment. It is very expensive, but does show results. My last dog had this one.

I would do the x-ray but not the echo. X-ray will show how enlarged the heart has become due the murmur. My dogs all had very large hearts in the end. The hearts were so large thay it would pinch the breathing and eating tubes.

Reba (the daughter) only lived for 3 months after 1st symptoms. She was healthy as could be then one day she had an episode. She was gone 3 monthls later.

Chico (the dad) lived for about 6 month after 1st symptoms.

Carmel (the mom) did the best. She lived for 15 month after she showed symptoms.


I rather doubt you are in stage 5 with the symptoms you are having, but the x-ray will help determine the stage and medications to use.

With proper care, you dog can live along time. Please post back with any more info.
 

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Thank you MrFiero for that excellent and informative post!!
 

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Yes Zippy that is the one!

It can be useful when all other measures have been tried. It is expensive, but our little dogs are worth it. The give us
unconditional love for their entire lives and it's now are turn when they need
medical attention.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I can relate to your situation with the heart murmurs. Back in the late 1990's I purchased 3 long hair chihuahuas. Mon, dad and daughter. It turned out they all had issues with heart murmurs (genetically). They lived 11,12 and 14 years. I went through this with each dog. I am also a pharmacist an can give you advice about the medications.

A few observations. It is possible that your dog is not having seizures. The vet expalined to me that more than likely the dog passes out because the heart is not able to pump enough blood to the brain. My dogs would do this after they ran up the steps. They would be out cold. 5 minutes later, you would never know that there was a problem.

Normally they start the enalapril once a day every day for the rest of the dogs life. If the dog contiues to have more frequent problems, they bump the enalapril up to twice a day. This is a heart med that reduces the preload pressure on the heart. It will slow the progression of the murmor. It also somewhat helps the heart pump more effiently.

The furosemide is a diuretic (water pill) that helps remove any fluid build up in the lungs. Because of the poor circulation, fluid can build up in the lungs. If your dog has coughing or gasping spells the furosemide will help, but it can be hard on the kidneys. In early stages of heart murmurs you use the furosemide on an as needed basis for a few days after an episode. As the disease progress you use it daily every day and sometimes twice a day. Your dog will pee much more often when on this drug.

There are two other drugs that can be used. They sometimes use digoxin, another heart med that improves heart function. It is normally only used in the later stages. None of my 3 dogs had this. There is also a drug that until recently we could only get it in Canada, but now is available in the US. The name escapes me at the moment. It is very expensive, but does show results. My last dog had this one.

I would do the x-ray but not the echo. X-ray will show how enlarged the heart has become due the murmur. My dogs all had very large hearts in the end. The hearts were so large thay it would pinch the breathing and eating tubes.

Reba (the daughter) only lived for 3 months after 1st symptoms. She was healthy as could be then one day she had an episode. She was gone 3 monthls later.

Chico (the dad) lived for about 6 month after 1st symptoms.

Carmel (the mom) did the best. She lived for 15 month after she showed symptoms.


I rather doubt you are in stage 5 with the symptoms you are having, but the x-ray will help determine the stage and medications to use.

With proper care, you dog can live along time. Please post back with any more info.
Thanks for the response. I don't think Paco is passing out. He has always been laying down when he has one. Right before one starts he lets out a very loud very sad cry. Its the kind of cry you hear when you accidently step on one of a dogs paws.
 

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Very good info. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

I can relate to your situation with the heart murmurs. Back in the late 1990's I purchased 3 long hair chihuahuas. Mon, dad and daughter. It turned out they all had issues with heart murmurs (genetically). They lived 11,12 and 14 years. I went through this with each dog. I am also a pharmacist an can give you advice about the medications.

A few observations. It is possible that your dog is not having seizures. The vet expalined to me that more than likely the dog passes out because the heart is not able to pump enough blood to the brain. My dogs would do this after they ran up the steps. They would be out cold. 5 minutes later, you would never know that there was a problem.

Normally they start the enalapril once a day every day for the rest of the dogs life. If the dog contiues to have more frequent problems, they bump the enalapril up to twice a day. This is a heart med that reduces the preload pressure on the heart. It will slow the progression of the murmor. It also somewhat helps the heart pump more effiently.

The furosemide is a diuretic (water pill) that helps remove any fluid build up in the lungs. Because of the poor circulation, fluid can build up in the lungs. If your dog has coughing or gasping spells the furosemide will help, but it can be hard on the kidneys. In early stages of heart murmurs you use the furosemide on an as needed basis for a few days after an episode. As the disease progress you use it daily every day and sometimes twice a day. Your dog will pee much more often when on this drug.

There are two other drugs that can be used. They sometimes use digoxin, another heart med that improves heart function. It is normally only used in the later stages. None of my 3 dogs had this. There is also a drug that until recently we could only get it in Canada, but now is available in the US. The name escapes me at the moment. It is very expensive, but does show results. My last dog had this one.

I would do the x-ray but not the echo. X-ray will show how enlarged the heart has become due the murmur. My dogs all had very large hearts in the end. The hearts were so large thay it would pinch the breathing and eating tubes.

Reba (the daughter) only lived for 3 months after 1st symptoms. She was healthy as could be then one day she had an episode. She was gone 3 monthls later.

Chico (the dad) lived for about 6 month after 1st symptoms.

Carmel (the mom) did the best. She lived for 15 month after she showed symptoms.


I rather doubt you are in stage 5 with the symptoms you are having, but the x-ray will help determine the stage and medications to use.

With proper care, you dog can live along time. Please post back with any more info.
 

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The vet explained to me that if the body is stiff during an episode that it is more than likely a seizure. If the body is limp, than the dog fainted.
So it does sound like Paco is having a seizure.

Please keep us informed. I wish you luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks everybody. I was home all day becuase of the weather and we got to enjoy Paco all day. He is the happiest dog you could ever see. Running around the house, wagging his tail, barking at the snow outside, playing with our other chi Luckydog.
Except for the 3 minor siezures he has had in the last 2 weeks he shows absolutely no signs of being sick or having any illness at all. Thats what makes it so sad and hard to deal with. His X-Ray is tomorrow and we are praying we don't get really bad news.
 

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Please keeep us posted, Sending good vibes for good news.......
 

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We dropped him off at the vet this morning at 8:00am. No response from the vet yet but they told my wife that they would give him the X-Ray and then decide what medication to put him on.
The think that I notice that I am doing is constantly watching Paco and listening to him because I am so worried that he is going to have another seizure. I am literally a nervous wreck. Hopefully the vet won't give us horrible news.
 
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