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Draining fluid for heart failure.

Species: Dog
Breed: Chihuahua
Age: More than 15 ye
My dog has Congestive Heart Failure. He is under the care of a veterinarian and cardiologist. Leading up to the last six weeks, he has been doing well. The last few weeks have been bad. He has mitral valve disease on both ventricles. Six weeks ago he entered into right-sided heart failure. He felt bad, looked bad and I did not think he would make it.

His doctors pulled a miracle. They rearranged his medications (Sildenafil, Pimobendan, Spironolactone, Benazapril and Lasix) and he seems to be responding. The have been able to reverse his pulmonary hypertension, anorexia, and azotemia. The only lingering problem is ascites in his belly region. I have had to take him to the clinic 5 times to have him tapped. My question is in regards to ascites. Could you offer me some guidance as to when tapping is medically necessary?

Each tapping is about $500 and I would like to hold to my money for the tougher fight down the road. Of the five times, in two his belly was broader than his chest so taking him to the clinic was a no brainer. The other three, he had a pot belly but did not look that bad and it was having little impact on his condition (no impact on respiration, appetite, or spirit). In you opinion, when should ascites be treated. What are the risks one takes by not treating it?

Your insight would be greatly appreciated.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh dear. It really sounds like your little guy is going through some tough times. As serious as this situation is, I did smile a little at the thought of Lazarus being saved from death by his doctors. :)

I don't know that there is any rule of thumb when it comes to treating ascites in a case like this.

Most likely, if this were my case, I would be draining the ascites when it is obviously uncomfortable for Lazarus. The ascites itself is not life threatening. However, the fact that he is producing this fluid and we can't get it under control is the biggest concern.

Really, your vets are the best guides to knowing when the fluid should be drained. Perhaps, with them, you can set up some criteria to help you decide when the draining should happen. If Lazarus is not showing any signs of discomfort then one thing you could ask them about is seeing what happens if you wait perhaps an extra week or two and then doing the drain.

Ultimately though, the fact that there is fluid being produced by this is not a good sign, but I think that you are probably aware of this.

I hope he continues to do ok. Heart failure is a very difficult thing to deal with.

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.