Saturday, August 31

Heart Dogs

coraplie5.jpgIn this photo, you can see FBRN newcomer Coraline playing with FBRN old-timer Paulie Walnuts. They have more than just their brindle-pied coloring in common.

Both have serious heart defects.

Just about this time last year, Paulie Walnuts' foster mom became his forever mom. She has experience monitoring his heart problems and she has an excellent cardiac veterinary specialist for him. When we got the call about Coraline, a very young puppy with pulmonic stenosis, our volunteers swung into action; Coraline flew with a volunteer who works as a flight attendant across a big swath of country, then made a short road trip to her new home.

coratest.jpgCoraline's vet visit revealed that she has a set of serious problems, including severe pulmonic stenosis, a condition that causes thickening of the heart muscle as the heart works hard to push blood through a too-narrow opening. She will have to take medication. She will have to limit her playtime and excitement. She will probably not live as long as most Frenchies, and there is a risk that she could succumb suddenly. She'll be a hospice dog for several months until she has grown enough that the doctors can better see the architecture of her heart and know whether she is a candidate for a surgery that might help prolong her life.

Bulldogs and boxers suffer pulmonic stenosis (PS) fairly frequently, as do a few other dog breeds, including Westies, labs, and Chihuahuas. It is often discovered during an early vet visit, but many dogs with mild PS are undiagnosed and have no symptoms. Dogs with moderate to severe PS may experience exercise intolerance, fatigue, and fainting as some of the symptoms of the condition. Some dogs can undergo corrective surgery involving a balloon catheter to enlarge the narrow opening. In Coraline's case, there may be further structural defects in the heart and coronary artery that would take that option off the table. In a few months when she has grown a bit, we'll do another echocardiogram to see whether she is a candidate. If not, she'll remain in hospice care with Paulie Walnuts.

coraplie1.jpgPulmonic stenosis is not a death sentence for most dogs. It can often be mild, requiring no medication or treatment, and moderate cases can be managed with medications like Atenolol, a heart medication for people and dogs that helps the heart pump efficiently, and they can benefit from daily supplements of fish oil. Regularly scheduled check ups with a specialist can help identify whether a dog with PS is maintaining or perhaps could benefit from medication, a change in daily activity, or treatment.

Please keep a good thought for Coraline as she grows. Her future is uncertain, but FBRN volunteers and our supporters know that our foster mom (and Paulie Walnuts!) will work hard to be sure that every day will be a good day for Coraline.

She may be but a mite but she's a mighty mite observes

The Frog Princess

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