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Looking for some help please from those with experience of Stage 4 CHF

Jess Sergio’s Mum

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I hope this message finds you well. I’m here due to confusion with the changing symptoms of my boy Sergio. He was diagnosed with stage two mitral valve three years ago and recently the vet said he’d reached stage four, likely with days left. That was 3 weeks ago. For info he is nearly 14 years old (in a months time) and is a long haired chihuahua.

Im grateful for this but my boy has gone from severe panting, restlessness and refusal to eat, to more controlled breathing and now eating more normally (just a bit less). Some of his meds were increased and I’m wondering if this has helped.

I was told to prepare myself to need to reach a decision on his quality of life, as his back legs have really limited mobility now and all he’s doing is sleeping for the majority of the day. I told myself when he reaches a stage where he can’t control his bowels I would make a decision on his life but he’s not there yet. Im finding it hard to judge his quality of life. He’s doing very very little but I don’t feel in my gut that it’s time.

I would really like to hear from those with experience of this. I’m not sure what to expect from one day to the next.

Thanks for reading this far. All views are welcome, Sergio is my first dog and I just want what’s best for him.
It is such a difficult time :-(

There is a scale used to help assess quality of life, which can be found here: Table: The HHHHHMM Scale - MSD Veterinary Manual It won't give you a definite answer, but might help clarify your thoughts. Another thing to remember is that it's better a day too early than a day too late - one more day won't make much of a difference to Sergio, unless it's a day of pain.

If in doubt, though, go with your gut. And do post again if you want to talk about it more, or just to tell us about Sergio - we're always here to listen.
Having gone through this very recently with my first dog (who was also my best friend), I know how you feel and sympathise with you. My advice is to go with your gut and what you observe. If he is comfortable, eating and going to the toilet well enough, even if he sleeps all day, given the circumstances I'd say it sounds as though he is OK, but only you will know this. It's a really tough time, I know.

My dog was diagnosed with cancer of multiple organs, had a faulty heart valve, but enjoyed an excellent quality of life almost until his last day when he deteriorated. However, he did have some setbacks during this time which were caused by chemotherapy (weeing blood/clots) and when I spoke to a vet at the specialists we were referred to, he was adamant it was time to call it a day. Knowing my dog as I did, I knew he was generally OK (eating, getting out, etc.) and disagreed with this vet. We stopped his chemo, and lo and behold he was back to his old self again and lived with a great quality of life for several more months on less destructive medication. What I am trying to say is this - you will know your dog better than anyone, do not let a vet talk you in to going down a route that your dog is not yet ready for, but sadly there will be a time when this day comes.

My wife and I made a commitment not to end our dog's life out of convenience - we did as much as we could to keep him happy and comfortable for as long as we could. We did not want him to suffer and both miss him desperately.

Best wishes to you during this difficult time.
Knowing when the right time to say goodbye has come can be so difficult, my dog developed severe
heart disease and was given a maximum of 3 months to live,he only lasted a month,at first he went downhill
slowly,not wanting to walk as far, his interest in food declined and he couldnt play with his toys for long,
in the later stages he virtually stopped eating and the weight dropped off him so fast.
Every day I tried to deciede if the time was right,so hard when he was still greeting me in the mornings
with a waggy tail and taking a little food.Many people say a dog will tell you when the time has come
and in his case he really did,he got up on the last morning,didnt come to see me and hid himself away,
something he had never done, I knew it was the right time and took him on his last journey.
I was grateful in a way it happened like that, i didnt want to him to go downhill or suffer any more,
and he made the decision for me.I know it doesnt always happen like that, you may have to trust your
own instinct and assess his quality of life day to day,but I am sure that when you feel the time has come,
it will be the right decision.
Thank you so much to everyone who has replied. It’s been helpful to have your input and hear about your experience. Every day feels different and I go in and out of what I think is the right thing for him. I do think instinct will have a big part of my decision and I’m waiting for a sign from Sergio really. Some days he shows interest in being with the family and other times he wants to be left alone. I’ve got a review with the vet this week so I’ll take their opinion but as one person advised above, I’ll take this as just one bit of professional input and not feel pressured into anything. Thank you for taking the time to write back, I didn’t expect to hear anything so I’m really grateful

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