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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, i guess i'm not looking for advice so much as i just need to rant a little bit. But of course any advice would be welcome, too.

Kiley turned 13 this year and we're still battling a bunch of health problems. Recently (i would say within the past two months) her coughing has taken a turn for the worst. It's at the point where she's almost constantly coughing, wheezing, huffing, etc.The episodes last for a minute or more at a time (as opposed to the usual couple of rough hacks and then be done for a bit) and she's usually worn out at the end. She's definitely breathing harder, even at rest, and the coughing bouts happen at any time (even when she's asleep - they wake us all up).

She has a heart murmur (grade 4 or 5 depending on which vet you talk to on which day) and a lung tumor that's pretty much taken up her entire right lung. The vet does not suspect heart failure at this point, there is no fluid build up in her chest or lungs, but the tumor HAS grown a bit for the first time since we found it last November. The coughing could be because of either of those but the vet hasn't really figured out how to find out which or given us much advice on how to reduce it.

I'm waiting to hear back from them about getting her in to see the cardiologist and/or a specialist for the lung tumor, but getting in to see them may not be possible right now due to COVID and/or financial restrictions. At this point i'm not looking for treatment/cure, i just want to see if we can't get a better handle on the coughing. She eats, she drinks, she tries to play (brings me toys, rolls on her back, etc)... she goes for walks and wants to keep going..... she just coughs the whole time. I don't think she's ready to let go (and i'm not either) but she needs some relief from the coughing.....

If anyone is interested i do have her most recent x-rays that i can post, and i could get a video of the coughing if you think you can tell if it's from the murmur, tumor, or other....

She also has vestibular disease, but she's mostly recovered from that episode - she has a mild head tilt and a little bit of wobbliness (which could also be from any number of other things to be honest) but that's it. She's partially blind and starting to lose her hearing. She's got mammary tumors, too. Poor old girl.
 

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I wonder if there are medications to blunt the cough reflex in dogs like there are for humans? Your darling pup sounds like she would benefit from a palliative care approach: keep her comfortable and avoid painful medical interventions that are unlikely to provide her with increased longevity or life quality. Reducing the cough sounds like it would improve her life... warm thoughts to you both.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Vet hasn't mentioned an enlarged heart, no. Her heart has always "looked and sounded fine" during exams, bar the murmur of course. We've been keeping a close eye on it and it's only been this past year that the murmur has worsened (she's had the murmur for as long as i've had Dublin - four years now).

The ER vet at one point asked why we didn't consult a cardiologist about putting her under to remove the lung tumor - that it was probably do-able, though the prognosis was extremely guarded, and i was like.... she's 13 and her regular vet said it wasn't even an option they would consider. I'm not putting her through what sounds like major surgery just to squeeze possibly another year or two out of her. She would have one lung and a bad heart IF she survived. Big IF, there, too.

When i talk to the vet next i'm going to ask about the coughing - at this point, yeah, palliative care is what we're focusing on and reducing that cough would go a long way towards making her more comfortable. She still eats, drinks, plays, gets excited to see people, and loves to go for short walks so she's got a lot left in her... that cough though!
 

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I wish I had some suggestions for you. I can only extend virtual hugs as I understand what it's like trying to keep our senior pets comfortable.

I think breathlessness or struggling to breathe ranks high on the suffering scale, even as it doesn't always manifest dramatically. With Gracie it was just panting, likely due to heart failure. But, as with you, I didn't want to torture her with invasive procedures.

It's such a delicate balance.
 

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Newport had some great thoughts! There are several "human" medications that can be used on pets with veterinary approval of course. Maybe ask your vet about using Robitussin (dextromethorphan) it can be used to help suppress dry unproductive coughing. Most of the time my vet would caution pet owners about giving honey to soothe throats for similar reasons doctors don't recommend giving it to infants, however in this situation it may help her.
 

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My Eddie (italian greyhound mix) came to me with heart problems. We had several good years but I finally had to let him go because of the cough from heart failure. He was so exhausted all the time. He couldn't walk 2 steps without another coughing spell. I agree with Peggy that the coughing really is suffering. I'm sorry you're going through this.
 

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When was the last time a chest x-ray was done? This is my memory talking but for my Noel, our vet at the time, took views in which even I could see that her trachea was being impinged on, and her heart had enlarged from the previous xray.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
She had X-rays done May 1, then again more recently September 11. I do have them - since we can't go in with the dog thanks to COVID i've been having the vet email me all the x-rays they do so i can see them for myself. Mostly so i can see the tumor.

May 1

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Sept 11

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For whatever reason, they either didn't take a left side on the 11th or just didn't send it to me. The tumor is on her right side.
 

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This link has an xray which shows what the compression may look like.
It's stated that the dog is not necessarily in heart failure for the compression to be a problem.
 
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