Heart defect in dogs: symptoms, treatment and prevention


When a dog exhibits congenital heart disease or congenital heart disease, this means that he is affected as soon as he comes into the world. But these heart defects are not always passed on to the puppy from one of its parents. They are therefore not necessarily hereditary. Let’s see together what can be heart defects in a dog, what they cause and if the animal can be treated.

Heart defect in dogs: symptoms of congenital heart disease

There are different types of heart defects in canines. Some, for example, lead to abnormal communications :

  • Between the two atria of the heart following an anomaly in embryonic development,
  • Between non-oxygenated blood and oxygenated blood,
  • Between the left heart which receives oxygenated blood and the right heart which, for its part, receives blood from the body and which is therefore loaded with carbon dioxide so that after its passage through the lungs, it is loaded with oxygen . We speak in this case of interventricular communication.

In some cases the dog may develop heart failure due to abnormal communication.

Other malformations are located at the heart valves which may be incorrectly positioned or have an abnormal shape so that they do not allow the blood flow to be correctly sent through the vessels during the contractions of the heart muscle. In this category of malformations, we find:

  • The mitral dysplasia: uncommon, this cardiac malformation is located at the level of the mitral valve,
  • The tricuspid dysplasia: a rare abnormality identifiable with abnormal heart rhythms, dilation of the ventricle or atrium (right),
  • Of strictures, which is quite common. It could be :
    • From aortic stenosis,
    • Pulmonary stenosis: the circulation of the blood is impeded, which in the dog leads to fatigue on exertion, an abdominal effusion, that is to say an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen (we then speak ofascites), syncope.

Finally, some puppies have a combination of heart defects. This is the case with tetralogy of Fallot which combines:

  • A bad position of the aorta,
  • Hypertrophy of the right ventricle,
  • Pulmonary stenosis,
  • Interventricular communication.

This congenital heart disease is extremely complex.

A puppy with a heart defect has a heart murmur noticeable from birth.

Congenital heart diseases: diagnosis and treatment

The diagnosis of congenital heart disease is based on the clinical examination of the dog, the analysis of the symptoms described by the owner of the animal, their intensity, their age, and necessarily involves a echocardiography with doppler. If the veterinarian specializing in cardiology deems it necessary, he can perform various additional examinations depending on the case that presents itself.

The treatment usually involves a surgery since the dog has a malformation. However, the veterinarian may decide not to resort to it if the technicality of the necessary act is extreme, especially since in this type of situation, the cost that this represents is not always bearable by the owner of the animal. . If the dog is not covered by an animal health insurance contract, all costs are the responsibility of its owner. But apart from this financial question, you should know that any surgery performed on a dog with a heart defect is always risky.

Be careful, risky does not mean that it will not lead to good results. Fortunately, many dogs with congenital heart disease are operated on and recover. This is particularly the case with the persistence of the ductus arteriosus. This can be treated in 100% of cases as soon as the dog is operated on early. The cure is then total and there is no risk of relapse. The animal does not need either to take treatment following the intervention which makes it possible to treat this type of malformation.

On the other hand, the treatment of an interventricular communication is again surgical, but even if the operation is carried out early enough, success is not obtained in all the cases treated.

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