Overview Of Congenital Heart Defects In Dogs

Congenital anomalies that affect the cardiovascular system are irregularities that an animal is born with. They can happen due to a number of reasons, such as; genetic abnormalities, environmental circumstances, infections, poisonous material, drugs taken by the mother, or improper maternal diet. In particular situations, it is a combination of factors that bring about the deformity. There are specific defects that are always associated with genetic factors, and these inherited factors are dependent on the dog breed. There are breeding studies that have shown that less than 1% of dogs are afflicted by congenital heart disease.

Apart from the usual congenital heart abnormalities, there exist numerous other cardiovascular disorders that have been proven, or are assumed, to have a genetic disposition. Conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy and degenerative valve disease of tiny dog breeds all bear a considerable genetic element.

It had been stated earlier that very few dogs are actually born with heart disease. The most common defects that afflict such doge are aortic stenosis, persistent right aortic arch, pulmonic stenosis, ventricular septal defect, and patent ductus arteriosus. There are some cardiac conditions that are even less common, occurring in less than 5% of cases. These are tricuspid dysplasia, tetralogy of Fallot, persistent left cranial vena cava, atrial septal defect, Cor Triatriatum Dexter, and mitral valve dysplasia. It must be noted that there are distinct regional categorisations of each of these diseases, with prevalence rates varying from place to place. Congenital canine heart defects that may be common in the United States are different from those identified in the United Kingdom, and those found in the UK may also be at variance from those in other countries in Europe.

Diagnosing Congenital Heart Defects In Dogs

The key to dealing with any form of hereditary heart ailment is early detection. There are particular defects that can be fixed with surgery, and they should obviously be treated before the defect results in congestive heart failure or permanent heart damage. In case you have recently purchased a dog and discovered that it has a heart defect, you could take it back for a refund. Pets that suffer from congenital heart defects tend to suffer premature deaths, resulting in undue emotional trauma. Another reason why early detection is vital is that the owner can avoid breeding dogs with genetic defects, thus putting a stop to the defective gene in a breeding line.

The diagnosis and evaluation of any animal with a congenital heart defect may involve certain procedures, such as a physical examination, echocardiography (ultrasonography), electrocardiography (measuring cardiac electrical activity), and x-rays. These procedures enable diagnosis and measurement of the severity of the disease.

Each particular hereditary heart defect will generally produce specific signs that are linked to the type of heart failure involved. Probable symptoms include shortness of breath or breathing problems, coughing, loss of consciousness, weakness, or a build-up of fluid in the lungs or abdomen.

Prognosis And Treatment

The mode of treatment of a congenital heart disease typically relies on the particular defect and how severe it is. Dogs that are only mildly affected may not show any symptoms and may end up enjoying a normal life. On the other hand, defects that cause considerable damage to the circulatory system tend to cause death in newborn (and unborn) puppies. It is the animals that suffer from moderate congenital heart defects that are most likely to undergo and have successful surgical treatment. Surgical rectification is recommended for most affected dogs, provided there are no other ailments or abnormalities present that create complications with anaesthesia or surgery.

Innocent Murmurs

Understanding heart murmurs is very important, as there are cases where a heart murmur doesn’t indicate the presence of a heart condition. For example, a heart murmur in a young puppy might not be due to a congenital heart defect, as most puppies have a minor systolic murmur that is not linked to a congenital heart defect. Such murmurs tend to disappear by 6 months of age. On the other hand, noisy systolic murmurs and diastolic murmurs are indicative of cardiac disease and require rapid examination by your veterinarian.

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