How Is Congenital Heart Disease in Dogs?

Q:

Can dogs have congenital heart disease?

A:

Yes. The most common congenital heart disease in dogs include patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), pulmonic stenosis (PS), and subaortic stenosis (SAS). These three diseases are all potentially inherited defects. It is recommended that affected dogs and their parents be removed from breeding programs.

A dog’s heart is anatomically similar to a human heart. There are four chambers, two on the right side, and two on the left. the upper chambers are called atria, and the lower chambers are called ventricles. In a normal functioning heart, blood enters the right atrium from the head, neck and abdomen and flow through the tricuspid valve to the right ventricle. From there it is pumped though the pulmonary valve into the pulmonary artery, then into the lungs where it receives oxygen. Blood re-enters the heart via the left atrium and travels though the mitral valve into the left ventricle. Finally, oxygenated blood exits the heart through the aortic valve into the aorta.

The congenital heart defect can occur as a malformation of any valve, chamber, or great vessel. A defect can also involve abnormal connections between the heart chambers. The most popular congenital heart disease are inherited defects. It is recommended that affected dogs and their parents be removed from breeding programs. Many patients do not survive beyond a year of age if this defect is not corrected. Mildly affected dogs can live a normal life span.

There are some certain signs of congenital heart disease. The most typical one is the dog’s murmur. Congenital heart disease in dogs is typically first identifies when a murmur is noted on physical examination during one of the first routine vaccination visits. A murmur is turbulent blood flow that creates vibrations which can be heard when a stethoscope is used to listen to the heart sounds. Innocent and physiologic murmurs are quiet while congenital heart defects typically produce loud murmurs that persist or become louder over time.

Patients with right-to-left shunting rarely live beyond 2-3 years of age, as surgical correction is not an option for these patients. Dogs with severe pulmonic stenosis or clinical signs of right-sided heart failure often benefit from balloon valvuloplasty performed during cardiac catheterization. The balloon valvuloplasty procedure carries an approximate 80% success rate in reducing the severity of pulmonic stenosis to mild or moderate, thus reducing the risk of clinical signs and returning the expected life span towards normal. However, there are some risks associated with surgery include a small amount of bruising or swelling at the surgery site. Additionally, it is possible for the pulmonic valves to develop scar tissue and narrow again, requiring a second balloon procedure.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.