An Enlarged Heart

It’s been a rough week. I was excited to welcome Madeline, a previous foster, back to our house for dogsitting. The timing seemed perfect because Max was just about to hit the one-month mark after his heartworm treatment, meaning that he could begin to do a bit more activity. I thought everyone would have a great time playing together, and they did…for the first three days.

Then Max got sick again. His breathing was labored and he became lethargic. Back at the vet for examination and X-rays, it was reaffirmed that Max’s right ventricle was enlarged. X-rays from the previous month showed the same thing, but not being a vet myself, I thought that was a temporary condition from the worms. This time around the vet told me that it is permanent. They watched Max for the day and then sent him home to me, stating that he was doing much better. (Note: Look carefully in the X-ray image and you can also see his dislocated shoulder – it turns out it’s his shoulder and his elbow. So sad.)

That night, I noticed again that Max was breathing loudly with quick, shallow breaths. I stayed up with him all night (because I was concerned about him and I had caught a nasty cold that wouldn’t let me sleep anyway), and then again took him to the vet the next morning. That whole day was scary, as new X-rays revealed fluid in his lungs and I just didn’t know if he would make it. The second time the vet called I almost lost it, thinking that she was calling to deliver bad news. But to my pleasant surprise, she was just calling to say that she gave him Lasix (a diuretic) and that he responded to it very well.

Max came home, and he’s been happy with the limited activity I’ve allow him. He plays bitey-face with Bill and Madeline for short spurts and I allow him to walk around at the dog park for short periods (he’s got to be fenced in because he doesn’t yet know recall and he’s VERY fast for a three-legged, uncoordinated dog!). He does have congestive heart failure, as the vet said his heart valves are not opening and closing correctly. He’ll be visiting Colorado State University in a week to meet with a specialist.

I’m so glad he made it through those rocky few days. I feel completely responsible for his relapse, as he just seemed to be feeling so good, and I let him do too much activity. I would have been devastated to lose him. He’s such a loving, special, little guy, and he deserves the best life possible.