PeeWee was referred to our cardiologist for evaluation of labored breathing and a heart murmur. An echocardiogram found that he had Mitral valve degeneration, the most common acquired heart disease in small breed dogs which typically progresses slowly over time. In PeeWee’s case, this also resulted in Congestive Heart Failure. He was hospitalized overnight for treatment and monitoring, his breathing normalized, and he was able to go home the next afternoon. PeeWee also became a participant in our diuretic clinical study, so we have been able to see him frequently for check-ups! This handsome boy has come so far in the last few weeks and it is such a pleasure to see him and his owners every time, so we have named him the February Patient of the Month.

To commemorate this award, we interviewed PeeWee’s owner, Raquel, to learn more about PeeWee’s life!

Peewee is an apple head chihuahua we got about 8 years ago from my mom. She couldn’t keep him anymore, so we thought it would be perfect for him to join our pack. All our dogs were either rescued from a terrible home or just weren’t wanted. We can say he is the feistiest of the group, but naturally chihuahua’s are. It probably helped a little that he grew up around 2 pit bulls (Capone and Bear), a dachshund Jack Russell mix (Oscar), a miniature poodle (Pucci) and 5 cats (Bella, Stripe, Pricilla, Elvis and Knight). Our two pit bulls have passed, so he recently became the leader of the pack.

He’s been the best big brother to our newest chihuahua (Odi) we recently found in our back yard. He follows him around and does everything he does. If it weren’t for PeeWee, I don’t think Odi’s transition would have been as smooth. PeeWee has had a big impact on him, especially when it comes to Bella. She can be a little territorial so when he first came into the house he was terrified of her. Now he watches Peewee and imitates some of his behaviors.

He has these little beady eyes that will tell you everything he’s feeling. He looks up at you and you instantly see the love. You know it’s love because of his tongue. He is well known for having his tongue out on a regular basis. No matter what’s going on, you can expect that thing to be popping out. The more relaxed and comfortable he is the more it comes out.

Some of his favorite hobbies are basking in the sun, hanging out with his brothers and sisters in the window and dressing up in cool costumes his mom makes him wear.

He enjoys sleeping, eating, and hanging out with our loving mama cat Bella. They seem to have a special little bond, which is cute to see. When he greets her his tail wags a million miles an hour as he gives her a big smell and licks her ear. She seems to give the same love in return, even grooming him as if he were one of her own kids. He’s definitely a lady’s man.

He has been doing well since his last visit. He seems to have a little more of what I like to call a “pep in his step.” He’s a little more playful and has enough energy to sit up on his hind legs to get love and attention. He’s sleeping through the night again and doesn’t seem to be breathing as heavy.

Our story of PeeWee’s health journey:

He has been doing well since his last visit. He seems to have a little more of what I like to call a “pep in his step.” He’s a little more playful and has enough energy to sit up on his hind legs to get love and attention. He’s sleeping through the night again and doesn’t seem to be breathing as heavy.

PeeWee has been an overall healthy boy until about 2 months ago, when we started to notice him wobbly, disoriented, and off-balance. We knew he had been experiencing some teeth issues, so our first thought was that his teeth were affecting his inner ear/equilibrium or in some sense “dog vertigo.” We made an appointment at our local vet where she told us he had a 3/6 heart murmur and severe dental disease. We scheduled his dental appointment the following week. 15 minutes after we dropped him off, they called us back and said his heart murmur was a 6/6 and the surgery would be more detrimental to him than beneficial.

We were told he needed to get an Echo done on his heart which could be done at Evolution Veterinary Specialists. Unfortunately, that couldn’t be scheduled until the following week. We took him home and noticed him panting and breathing heavily, which obviously wasn’t normal for him. We immediately called EVS and described his symptoms. Kelley was so nice and helpful when talking to us on the phone, she urged us to bring him in since it sounded like he was having trouble breathing. When we arrived, the staff took him back to the oxygen chamber, where he stayed for the next couple hours until Dr. Geri Lake-Bakaar got there. They ended up telling us he has congestive heart failure and the reason he was having trouble breathing is because he has fluid on his lungs. They wanted to keep him on oxygen for 24 hours, but we couldn’t afford it. We recently applied for care credit, which was the only way we were able to afford his recent vet visits. Now, with the card maxed out we were left with no options. We thought, “This is it. We’re going to take him home and make him comfortable for his last days.”

That is until Nicole came back and said he might be able to qualify for their diuretic study. The study would help pay for the majority of the treatments he need during his treatment for the next 3 months. At this point, it was all dependent on how well Peewee did outside of the oxygen chamber. Over the next 16 hours he was slowly weaned off of oxygen, which meant he now qualified for the study and could be given the first dose of the study medicine.

Fast forward one month later… He is doing well, back to his peppy self, eating, sleeping and breathing just fine. He takes a diuretic, heart medicine to help with blood flow, and eats a special cardiac diet.

This has been an amazing experience for all of us, and we couldn’t have done it without the support of the Evolution Veterinary Specialists team. I am terrible with remembering names unless I say them enough, but I want to make sure everyone who was involved with Peewee’s journey can be thanked. Kelley, Kerry, and Kaitlyn who helped at the front and on the phone. Nicole and Gianna who are helping us throughout the study. Dr. Luanne Strom who was the ER doctor who initially saw us when we first arrived at EVS. Michael Lake-Bakaar who held Peewee during his overnight stay, comforting my husband to know he was being well taken care of. Lastly, Dr. Lake-Bakaar who is our savior. Without the help of all of you, Peewee wouldn’t still be alive, so we truly are thankful and grateful for everyone on the team (sorry if I missed anyone)!