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Congenital Heart Disease

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in Dogs

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Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart diseases start during the development of the fetus and are due to inherited defects, genetic mutations or a developmental accident. They represent ~5% of heart diseases and test breeding and pedigree studies indicate there are inheritable with higher incidences in some breeds and line. They are common in dogs vs. cats and are usually detected when the pet presents for its initial examination. The most common defects are a patent ductus arteriosus, pulmonic stenosis, aortic stenosis, and ventricular septal defect. We will only discuss a PDA today.

Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

The ductus arteriosus connects the aorta to the pulmonary artery in the fetus, this is a normal structure. Normally it closes shortly after birth and becomes a ligament. When the duct remain open it is called a PDA. When this structure stays open blood is shunted from the aorta to the pulmonary artery causing volume overload of the left side of the heart. This can lead to thickening of the muscle of the left side of the heart and eventually heart failure. If the duct is very large over circulation of the lungs may occur leading to changes in vascular resistance and cause the right side of the heart to fail.

This type of congenital defect is most commonly seen in Toy and Miniature Poodles and German Shepherds. It is also see in Collies, Pomeranians, Shetland Sheep Dogs, Maltese Poodles, Spaniels, Keeshonds, Yorkshire Terriers, Chihuahuas, and mixed breed dogs. It is also more common in females (3:1).

Most puppies do not show signs of being sick and the abnormalities is found on the puppies first exam. When the heart is listened to there is a continuous machinery murmur and bounding femoral pulses. If they right side of the heart is already affected and the lungs are over circulated you can see purple/blue tissue of the prepuce and vulva which the mucous membranes of the head are normal in color.

There are a number of testing modalities than can be done to support the diagnosis (x-rays, blood gases, etc.) but ultimately referral to a veterinary cardiologist is best.

Surgical correction is the only way to correct the problem and prevent further changes to the heart itself and eventual heart failure. The duct can either be tied closed or closed by coil occlusion (preferred method). Surgery should be performed as soon as possible but if the puppy is in heart failure (usually prior to 16 weeks of age) it should be stabilized first with medications. If the puppy survives surgery the long term prognosis is excellent.

When the right side of the heart is involved surgery cannot be done. And puppies are treated with medication and very low activity levels. Long term prognosis is very poor.[/vc_column_text][/trx_section][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1533135180690{margin-top: 40px !important;}”][vc_column css=”.vc_custom_1533134942241{background-color: #d9ae4c !important;}”][trx_title type=”2″ align=”left” color=”#f6f2e4″ left=”20″ right=”20″]About Dr. Eileen Savier[/trx_title][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1533135315368{padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 30px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;}”]Dr. Eileen SavierBarks & Recreation is proud to feature Dr. Eileen Savier CVA, CVCH as our Veterinary Blogger in our “From the Vet” Series. Currently part of the team of doctors at Keystone Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Savier is a 2012 Graduate of the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, She completed her clinical experience at The Ohio State University and after veterinary school she pursued further education and certification in Veterinary Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, and Fear Free veterinary visits. Dr. Savier has a special interest in integrative medicine, animal behavior, and internal medicine and is committed to improving animal health care by integrating Eastern and Western philosophies. She enjoys working with fearful & aggressive dogs and cats and she has had additional training in low stress handling techniques and encourages positive reinforcement during exams and procedures. Her clinical interests include pain management, animal behavior, geriatric patient care, and internal medicine. Dr. Savier is a member of the following associations:

Dr. Savier shares her home with two (soon to be three) dogs, two cats, and a toddler. She lovingly refers to her two dogs as Coconut Retrievers as they were rescue dogs she brought home from the island of St. Kitts. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, going to the beach, and planning her next Disney vacation.

Join us every month for Dr. Savier’s “From the Vet” series to get more information related to the health and welfare of your furry family members![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]