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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 33288
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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Hi thereOn Sunday, my little girl (9year old Bichon) started

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Hi there
On Sunday, my little girl (9year old Bichon) started with a little cough.... On Wednesday we took her to the vet as it was getting worse and she had started to become lethargic. They booked her in for an X-ray on Thursday and gave her an antibiotic injection, and another to pass fluid. They could hear some fluid on her chest.
Thursdays X-rays showed "something" either an enlarged heart ( heart failure ) or a tumour.... Or worse case scenario, both.....
They cannot decide which it is and have booked us to go back on Monday when they have a specialist vet in who specialises in heart/chest drags and diagnosis...
Today is only Friday - I can't cope with not knowing ......
They said if it's heart disease she could go any day now or have medication and have longer, if it's a tumour there's nothing they can do.....
We had to carry her to bed last night, she has no energy or desire to move, and if she does it starts off her hacking cough.....even laid still she attacks of rapid shallow breathing..... She doesn't seem in pain, but is very sad and lethargic.
I'm so scared. I don't know what to do.
I can't just sit and wait, I feel I should be doing something to help her.
Any advice?
Aloha! You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin
I'm sorry for the delay in responding to you. Your question came in late at night when few vets are available. Pebbles should be prescribed a diuretic such as furosemide to be given orally until she can be seen on Monday. The diuretic was one of the injections given on Wednesday. Furosemide will be helpful irrespective of the cause of the fluid retention and could potentially be life-saving with little downside to its administration. I'm surprised that it wasn't prescribed yesterday. Please call Pebbles's vet and insist upon Pebble's being placed on furosemide at this time. Dosing should approximate 1mg/kg every 8 hours.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Because I didn't hear back, I asked for the X-rays to be sent to a specialist - he says Pebbles has pneumonia ( aspiration?) and have put her on 3 weeks worth of antibiotics, he said there was only minimal fluid on her chest - after the 3 weeks of antibiotics, he wants fresh xrays - he says the blur on the X-rays ( from the pneumonia ) is affecting the view of the mass - but he thinks the mass isn't a tumour - maybe heart failure or an uneven heart shape - now I have the worry of will she survive the pneumonia? X

Thank you for the additional information. Yes, pneumonia - particularly an aspiration pneumonia - is always worrisome. Antibiotic therapy is the cornerstone of treatment for pneumonias and as long as the antibiotics are continued for at least 1 week beyond radiographic resolution of infection, her prognosis is generally good. Repeating thoracic radiographs approximately 1 week after cessation of antibiotics may demonstrate focal primary diseases (e.g., neoplasia) not evident on initial radiographs. I'm on the same page as the specialist.

Please continue our conversation if you wish.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you so much - is it a high survival rate?

Pebbles is 10 next week and always been in good health, is a tad overweight and a little lazy, but otherwise has never been ill before .


Today is day 3 of her antibiotics, there's still no real change, her breathing is still rapid and she's coughing a lot still.......


I am just so worried about her.... Also, we have her brother, but pneumonia isn't contagious is it?


Thanks so much x

Survival is predicated upon the etiology of the pneumonia. If her antibiotics are going to work, you should see a nice improvement within the first week of their administration. If not, the choice of antibiotic should be re-evaluated.

Contagion is possible if an infectious agent present in her pneumonia is known to be contagious. If she suffers an aspiration pneumonia, however, the bacteria associated with that kind of pneumonia aren't expected to be contagious to her brother.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I've read survival rate is 16% but also read its 90% - I know you can't believe everything you read, but obviously the low percentage is worrying me silly...

If I'm reading you right - and other things I've read - I'm guessing it means if we successful rid the pneumonia we then have to find out what caused it, and that is when we know the real future?

thanks again x

Those percentages are meaningless because we haven't clarified why her pneumonia appeared. Yes, once the lungs clear, we should be able to visualize the underlying problem. It sounds as if the specialist is concerned about Pebbles having aspirated food into her lungs, a heart condition, and possibly a tumor. Each of those disorders has its own prognosis.

You're welcome.
Dr. Michael Salkin and other Vet Specialists are ready to help you
Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it.

I'm going to check back with you in a week for an update. Feel free to return to our conversation - even after rating - prior to my contacting you if you wish.

Please disregard the info request.
May I have an update on Pebbles, please?