Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How do you mend a broken heart?

First off - it is not my heart or Bizzy's that's broken.  The heart in question belongs to our little friend Truffles.  Let's take a step back.

I first met Truffles last year when I first entered into my search for a dog. I had a list of possibly hypoallergenic dogs and had made several unsuccessful trips to the vet.  Running into my friend Barb at the library she told me she knew someone who had a Shih Tzu rescue and would see if they had dogs to place.  A few days later I got an email about Truffles.  He was an 8 lb, 10 year old Shih Tzu purebred.  His owner was going into a nursing home and he could not go. He had been living with her daughter for the last six months but she was a Chihuahua breeder and did not want him.  So he was being taken to a Shih Tzu Rescue group but they agreed to stop by so I could meet him. I let my landlords Isabelle and Kelvin know he was coming since I wanted him to meet my dogs.

Truffles arrived and he really had no interest in me at all. He did let me hold him, but he never relaxed and in fact stood rigidly on my leg the whole time.  And boy did he set off my allergies.  Sadly I knew I could not keep him.  Isabelle and Kelvin came out and Truffles left me and marched up to Isabelle and that was that.  He was her dog.

Fast forward to the last few weeks.  Truffles was acting very listless a few months ago and was diagnosed with an enlarged heart.  Isabelle was told he had a year or two to live.  She tried a bunch of homeopathic treatments and he did seem to perk up. 

Then the cough started. First it was an infrequent cough but incredibly loud for such a tiny dog.  And it grew progressively worse and worse, more and more frequent.  Soon every step he took was accompanied by a wheeze or a cough. 

In reading about enlarged hearts I read they could put pressure on the lungs which can cause the cough.  We all talked about it and after much googling and searching Isabelle decided to take Truffles to see Dr. Waxman at the Sage Group.

Now, back to our question on How do you mend a broken heart? If you are a dog in the Bay Area the answer is Dr. Waxman.  Why you may ask?  Because he is the ONLY animal cardiologist in the entire Bay Area.  The next closest is at UC Davis Vet School.  Surreal.  Dr. Waxman is also a fairly new doctor - finishing his training two years ago.  He has a nurse also specialized in cardiology and the two of them are amazingly busy.  But the most amazing part - they are about 2 miles from the house tops.  We got so lucky.

Isabelle took Truffles in this morning and we went together to pick him up this afternoon.  I had a big list of questions for the doctor that I'd written down so he talked us through the diagnosis. 

It seems Truffles has not one condition but two. He has an enlarged heart which is getting bigger - thus putting pressure on his lungs and the heart does not pump efficiently. But on top he has the scourge that all toy dog owners must fear - a collapsed trachea.  Truffles trachea is collapsed very deep down which is bad since there is a repair for the higher up kind. 

So where do we go from here?  Truffles now has to take 3 different pills. One is for the trachea - it is a cough suppressant with codeine. That will enable Truffles to not be as irritated and feel less pain in his chest.  And two heart medications to help him reduce his fluids and reduce the size of his heart. This will also reduce pressure on his trachea and help his heart work more efficiently.

So how do you mend a broken heart?  You go see Dr. Waxman and get some meds.  The good news is that the intervention does not require surgery. The bad news is that Truffles can no longer go for walks, is on bed rest and we have to see how the meds work.  So we have a couple of weeks to see how things are working out then back to the vet.

I will, of course, keep you all posted.   Here is a photo of Truffles in his sweater.

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