On Friday, my dog Brandy started this odd coughing. It almost was like a gagging or choking - but the more I watched her do it, the more I thought it might be a collapsed windpipe or something to that effect. It wasn't getting any better, and so my vet (who comes to my house, love her!) came over yesterday to see her.
The long and the short of it is....Brandy has a Grade 5 (1 being least, 6 being worst) heart murmur on both sides of her heart. Her heart beat, which I listened to - doesn't sound like a heart beat, but more of a "whoosh whoosh". If you've ever heard a baby's heartbeat while inutero, you'd recognize the sound. It is muffled, and doesn't sound like a true heart beat, but yet has the rhythm of one. This cough, is her body's way of creating more oxygen for her. And the vet could tell what it was going to be prior to even listening to her heart, because her breath was an indicator of something not right (outside of needing a bad brushing!). This can not be reversed...and while we may be able to keep it at bay for a short time with medicine, she will eventually die from this - either by suffocation, organ failure or heart attack.
We're having an echocardiogram done Friday to see the severity and to confirm that it is as bad as it seems - or hopefully, to maybe see if it's not as bad as it seems. If it is though...and that is something I have to think about - I'm more inclined to put her down gracefully than to have my children potentially either come home to find her gone, or even worse - see it happen.
She's only 10, rather young for a Jack Russell. And it came on so very quickly. The vet said since she didn't have this murmur last year, she more than likely may already have an infection that triggered the cough. Just like in people, when you have a severe murmur you need to be on antibiotics because you are prone to infections. I hadn't been expecting this, I sort of thought it was going to be something rather benign, like she ate something she wasn't supposed to and it was lodged or something like that.
My head and my own heart still hurts from thinking about it.