Experienced and professional animal trainer provide their insights in answering this question :
A. You may be referring to Vetmedin (pimobendan) which in recent studies showed more benefits over Enalapril in long term use in dogs with heart disease. In is worth to mention that these drugs can be used together to have hopefully even more beneficial effect in cardiac patients.

How to Identify Common Pet Problems ?

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Grade 6: The most severe grade, a Grade 6 heart murmur, is extremely loud and can be heard without a stethoscope touching the chest. This grade suggests a critical underlying heart condition that typically requires immediate and aggressive treatment to manage and alleviate its effects on the dog`s overall health.
Many dogs live a long time after being diagnosed with a heart murmur, and some can even live years after being diagnosed with heart failure. If you have any questions or concerns about murmurs, please contact your veterinarian.
How Long Can Dogs Live with Congestive Heart Failure? In general, dogs that are diagnosed with congestive heart failure can live anywhere from 6 months to 1 1/2 to 2 years.
Some dogs with DCM do well with treatment for a period of time; however, some dogs will never resume a normal lifestyle. Doberman Pinschers have been shown to live as little as 3 months once diagnosed. Other dogs have been known to live between 6-24 months if they respond well to treatment.
The good news is that many dogs live a good, healthy life with a heart murmur, as long as they are getting the correct treatment and lifestyle changes have been made if needed. Early detection is a key success factor for a better prognosis with heart conditions.
However, some murmurs caused by a structural abnormalities in the heart may be present for the rest of the dog`s life. Older dogs with mitral valve disease will always have a heart murmur that gets louder over time.
Some pups can live their entire life with a murmur and experience no issues, but if the condition is associated with underlying heart disease, it can be fatal. In fact, the dog is at risk for developing congestive heart failure if the disease becomes severe.
If your dog has a heart murmur and you see coughing, congestion, change in breath sounds or rapid breathing, exercise intolerance, weakness or “fainting,” gray or blue gums, abdominal distention, or lethargy, you should most certainly seek medical attention.
End-of-life symptoms in your Shih Tzu might include depression and loss of coordination, odd breathing, excessive lethargy, and changes in appetite, as well as issues in the digestive system. If you notice these signs in your Shih Tzu, get them to your vet asap.
5. Shih Tzu. A Shih Tzu dog – famous for its distinct long-haired coat — will live to approximately 12 to 16 years. It`s thought the oldest living Shih Tzu was a dog from Florida called Smokey who lived to be 23-years-old.
Stress to the heart is more likely to cause a possibly fatal heart attack in animals whose hearts are enlarged. If you see your dog start to slow down or try and sit down, it is time to take a break or cut the walk short for the day.
The following are some of the most common symptoms of an enlarged heart: Lethargy. Anorexia. Labored breathing.
How long can dogs live with congestive heart failure? Once congestive heart failure develops, survival time in dogs is expected to be between 6 to 14 months at stage C. Early detection and proper medical care are keys to improving a dog`s prognosis.
There is a wide range of conditions and diseases that can cause a heart murmur in dogs. Most commonly, heart murmurs in small dogs are caused by a leaky mitral valve (the heart valve in between the left atrium and left ventricle).
The prognosis ranges from excellent to grave, depending on the cause of the murmur. If the murmur is physiologic, no treatment is required and the prognosis is generally good to excellent. If the murmur is caused by extracardiac disease or a functional problem that can be treated, the murmur may resolve over time.
Grade 5 – Very loud and can be heard even when the stethoscope is barely touching the chest. They can also be felt by holding a hand against the chest. Grade 6 – Like a grade 5, these murmurs are very loud and can be felt by touching the chest; they are also the most severe.
Stage 4: CHF is in its final stage. Breathing becomes difficult to even when at rest. Fluid can accumulate in various parts of the body, causing swollen legs or belly, making it difficult to walk. It can even cause vomiting.
From the time a murmur develops, it may be a few months to several years until heart failure occurs. A heart murmur does not mean that heart failure is imminent, but congestive heart failure can occur with time. Dogs with a heart murmur, however, do have an increased risk of sudden death.
Heart murmurs are graded on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being mild, and 5 being very loud and easily detected. They can lead to congestive heart failure, but that`s largely dependent upon the dog`s overall heart efficiency and how you handle the diagnosis and management.
If you or your child has an innocent heart murmur, you can live a completely normal life. It will not cause you any problems and is not a sign of an issue with your heart.
Sadly, the life expectancy in most cases of enlarged heart in dogs is poor. Your vet will advise you on your dog`s expected prognosis, taking into account the progression of the disease at the time of diagnosis. Generally, the life expectancy is from six to 24 months.
The last few days before your dog passes you may notice: extreme weight loss, a distant look in their eyes, a lack of interest in anything, restlessness or unusual stillness, a change in the way that your dog smells, and a changed temperament.
With the Shih Tzu, the average life span is 13 years, though this can range from 12 years to 16 years; for this reason, Shih Tzu dogs are considered to be seniors by the 10 year mark. If a Shih Tzu has certain health issues, the veterinarian may make this declaration a year or two early, at the 8 to 9-year mark.
Signs Your Dog May Be Ready to Say Goodbye

Labored breathing. Lack of appetite. Lack of Mobility or Extreme Lethargy. Crying or intense whining.

Relevant Questions and Answers :

the most relevant questions and answers related to your specific issue

Q. We have a 13 year old Shih Tzu, with a stage 6 heart murmur. I heard there was as a newer, better medication than Enapril to extend her life
ANSWER : A. You may be referring to Vetmedin (pimobendan) which in recent studies showed more benefits over Enalapril in long term use in dogs with heart disease. In is worth to mention that these drugs can be used together to have hopefully even more beneficial effect in cardiac patients.

Q. I have a 13 1/2 year old Shih Tzu. How old is he in dog years?
ANSWER : A. It’s used to be that dog years were 7 years to every 1. Now it normally around 5 years to every year as long as your dog is healthy and kept up with vaccines. So he’s about 68ish in dog years.

Read Full Q/A … : Shih Tzu Age

Q. Does a 2 yr old dog have to be tested two times a year for heart worms when the first test was good
ANSWER : A. The heart worm test does need to be repeated if your dog was not on heart worm medication consistently every month through out the year. If your dog had it’s heart worm medication every month without fail, it may not be important to do bi-annual heart worm screenings unless you are concerned about Lyme disease. (The heart worm test will also test for Lyme and a few other tick borne diseases)

Q. I am fostering a 4 yo Chihuaha and he has recently been diagnosed with a heart murmur graded 5 of 6. What treatment do you recomend? Is it fatal?
ANSWER : A. It depends if the dog is in heart failure or not. There is no clear benefit of treating dog with heart murmur which is not in heart failure yet. Pimobendan is one of the medications which may be helpful. If the dog is already in heart failure which means he has fluid build up in his lungs then there is a list of medications that should be used e.g. furusemide, ACE inhibitor, Pimobendan, Spironolactone

Q. Why should I buy cat food according to my cat’s life stage?
ANSWER : A. The nutritional needs for your cat vary depending on their life stage. Kittens should follow a diet that is higher in protein and calories to meet their growth requirements (without consuming excess). For adult cats, it’s important to remember that an “all life stage” cat food may seem like a good idea, but may have an adverse effect for some adult and senior cats due to excess nutrients. If you’re tempted to feed your kitten an “all life stage” food this may result in health concerns as well. “All life stage” cat food must meet or exceed requirements needed for growth and when fed to a kitten the food may have a harmful effect on their health and weight. As always, it’s best to consult a veterinarian so he or she can help you make an educated decision about what type of food is best for your cat’s individual needs.

Q. My chihuahua is 17 years old and was diagnosed with heart murmur,is it too late
ANSWER : A. Not necessarily. A heart murmur is not an indication of function. It is caused by an abnormal flow of blood through the heart. To work it up and determine its significance will require chest xrays, an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) and possibly bloodwork before starting medication if indicated. Discuss diagnostics and treatment options in detail with your vet or a veterinary cardiologist.

Q. My 9 year old lab has tested positive for heart worms. A feed store owner told me I could use Noromectin (ivermectin) to get rid of them? Is it safe?
ANSWER : A. The feed store owner is taking about the “slow kill” method for adult heartworms. This method is the considered an alternate method that has the following disadvantages over the normal immiticide treatment:
1) Takes years (often-times up to 2-4 years) to completely rid heartworms vs immiticide treatment which takes at most 3 months
2) Slowly kills baby worms only in the bloodstream, does not kill adult worms in the heart. Immiticide kills the adult worms that are in the heart directly which is why it is so effective.
3) Higher risk of thromboembolism (clots in the lung artery) than Immiticide treatment.
4) Adult worms will stay in the heart for years and can impede blood flow.
So that is the gist of doing the slow kill method for baby heartworms instead of the fast kill method with Immiticide for adult heartworms. Which is why most veterinarians will recommend the fast kill method as the best choice for your pets care.

Q. Does an indoor cat need to be vaccinated every year?
ANSWER : A. In practice, I recommend a feline combo vaccine every year, but will generally start administering every 3 years once they have had their kitten vaccines and 2 additional yearly vaccines. Rabies, is required yearly by law, and if kept up to date can be good for up to three years also. Based on the age of your cat I would give a yearly feline combo and rabies, and then boost the combo again next year.