Heart Disease and Canine Pulmonic Stenosis
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Heart Disease and Canine Pulmonic Stenosis

Pulmonic stenosis is a common heart ailment for dogs and with proper knowledge of the signs, you can help your dog through early symptoms of the disease. Help is available for your dog to provide a longer happy life . . .

Heart disease in dogs is not uncommon. Without knowing the signs and symptoms, it may be hard to recognize the distress your dog could be going through while suffering from a heart ailment. But early signs and disagnosis can be a matter of life and death for your dog. Pulmonic Stenosis (PS) is the most common heart ailment in dogs. The blood is pumped from the heart to the lungs to be oxygenated. The blood is then returned to the heart through arteries in the body in order to redistribute it to other necessary parts of the body. When these arteries are obstructed or partially obstructed, it is usually due to a malformed pulmonic valve. This is a congenital defect with an abnormal heart development which affects the fetus and is present since birth. In serious cases, dogs can develop congestive heart failure.

Dogs usually only suffer from a mild case of the canine PS, where there is only a slight obstruction in the pulmonary valve. Certain breeds of dogs seem to be more susceptible to the condition such as the Mastiff, English bulldog, Beagle, Scottish terrier, Airedale terrier, Cocker Spaniel, Boykin Spaniel, Samoyed, Miniature Schnauzer, Wire Haired Fox Terrier, Chihuahuas and West Highland Terrier. Some dogs can have a larger obstruction which results in the heart working much harder, causing gradual heart damage that worsens with age. Serious cases of PS can cause lethargy, fainting spells, respiratory problems and abdominal swelling in your dog which can be fatal.

An early diagnosis is crucial to successful treatment. Young dogs are usually affected. A first sign of any heart defect will be detected as a heart murmur through a usual physical exam by your veterinarian.

In order to diagnose the problem, your veterinarian will do diagnostic testing such as x-rays, an electrocardiogram and a cardiac ultrasound. A Continuous Wave Doppler Echocardiography can determine the grade of severity in order to know what treatment is necessary.

For mild to moderate Pulmonic Stenosis, your doctor will just monitor the dog. There is no further treatment necessary unless further clinical signs develop.

Surgery is the process of normal treatment to remedy the obstruction of the pulmonary valve. Techniques can be used to widen the valve or by-pass it. However, the balloon valvuloplasty is the preferred treatment. A balloon valvuloplasty is when a balloon is positioned across the obstruction and inflated with fluid under pressure. This stretches or breaks the obstructing tissue allowing blood to flow again more easily and reducing the pressure between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery.

Prognosis for dogs with mild cases of PS is excellent. If a dog has a severe case of this heart condition, surgery would be necessary with a usual 90% success rate. If you have a dog with PS, it is advisable not to breed the dog for fear of passing on the heart condition to the puppies.


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