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Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The heart of the problem is the cost

Our dog Molly, a cross-breed we adopted from a rescue place about eight years ago when she was reckoned to be four or five years old, has recently been diagnosed with a heart murmur. This came about after she’d been on a much longer than normal walk. At one point on the walk she just lay down on her side for a minute or two, and then got up and carried on as usual. The same thing happened a few days later during a normal walk, but hasn’t happened since.
She has been on her usual walks regularly since, walks lasting between 30 and 60 minutes, with much of the time off the lead in the woods where she sniffs about and probably walks twice as far as me as a result.
We took her to the vet after the two “collapses” and she prescribed Vetmedin (3 tablets a day) plus Frusecare (1 a day).
When I took her back two weeks later I was told she’d have to stay on these meds for the rest of her days, Vetmedin to “keep her heart going” and Frusecare as she “seems to have fluid in her lungs”.
The diagnosis was made by listening with a stethoscope. The Vetmedin cost £56 for 2 weeks supply! We don’t have pet insurance.
I know several people with heart murmurs who don’t have medication and who seem to be very active, so I wonder why Molly has to have medication, and what would happen if she came off it altogether or had a very reduced dose which we could afford. If she hadn’t had the two episodes, would the “fluid in her lungs” have become a problem in itself if left undiagnosed?
Lesley McEwen


  1. I would get a second opinion if it were me ... my dog's epilepsy and hypothyroid were initially diagnosed as a heart problem (his fits in the early days were just collapses, incidentally - although he would go wobbly then crumple, not just lie on his side)

    If you're open to alternatives, a holistic/homoeopathic vet would be great - you have the cost of the intial consultation (which is usually up to an hour) then the homoeopathic tablets are really cheap compared to drugs. You may be interested to read a case history from homoeopathic vet Chris Day's website of a lurcher with a heart murmur: (I believe Chris Day's surgery can put you in touch with homoeopathic vets closer to where you live if he's too far)

  2. Richard Allport3 May 2011 at 04:40

    Lesley – without knowing the severity of the heart murmur it’s impossible to say if Molly needs to be on long term Vetmedin and Frusecare or not. If it is advisable, you can buy Vetmedin from reputable internet veterinary pharmacies for about 80p per tablet or even less, though you will need to instruct your vets to write a prescription, which they must do but will charge for. It may be worth asking your vet to refer Molly to a cardiac specialist to assess the need for medication and the long term future of her condition – without doubt a more accurate diagnosis and assessment will then be available as more investigations such as X rays, ultrasound and electrocardiograms will be carried out.

    Almost all cases of heart murmurs will be helped by supplements such as Coenzyme Q10, Vitamin E, the amino acid L carnitine, natural herbal diuretics such as Dandelion leaves and herbal heart supports such as Hawthorn together with homoeopathic medicines such as Crataegus, Digitalis, Convallaria and others. As well as requesting a referral to a cardiologist, a referral to a vet specialising in natural medicines will also be beneficial.

    Good luck with Molly

    Richard Allport