Heart problems with the dog (in general) we see quite often nowadays. As well, this may occur with our American Staffordshire Terrier.
There are many different heart defects. We can roughly subdivide this into two groups:
- The congenital heart defects. These conditions are present from birth and the symptoms often only occur at a later age.
- And the non-congenital heart defects. These conditions are not present at birth, but originate at a later stage.
Another way of classification can be made and this is depending on where the problem is in the specific part of the heart:
- Heart muscle disorders called cardiomyopathy. The cause of the problem is in the heart muscle itself. For example, the muscle may become too thick, too stiff or too weak.
- Heart valve problems. The cause of the problem can be that the valve is to narrow or it can be a poorly closing heart valve.
Because there can be several different heart problems with the dog, not each dog will show the same symptoms. Most animals show a combination of one or more of the following symptoms: anguish, coughing, weak rear legs, fainting, sudden paralysis, high blood pressure. In some cases, the symptoms develop gradually (over a period of months), in some patients this can be much faster.
Normally, a routine examination is done during each vet visit. One of the things they do is listen to the heart. Heart noise or an irregular heartbeat may be a signal that there is a heart problem. If this is the case, we will advise you to further examine in the form of making a heart film / heart echo. Unfortunately, not all heart problems will start with noise or give irregularities, so if there are no abnormalities in the physical examination, it won’t be a guarantee that your dog will not have a heart problem in the future.
Depending on the symptoms and physical examination, a specific follow-up examination will be chosen. You can think here of an X-ray of the chest cavity, a heart muscle film, heart echo and / or blood pressure measurements.
Some heart defects do not need to be treated. There are some mild heart defects which the dog can have from when its born, but won´t give the dog any major problems.
But there is still a small number of heart problems that can be solved. These include congenital heart defects where a small hole in the heart is present or where there is a blood vessel open (PDAB). Through an operation, the hole or blood vessel can be closed, if this operation is successful, the heart will not experience any further problems. However, most cardiac disorders cannot be resolved. Although, nowadays medicines can reduce the symptoms.
A number of heart (muscle) disorders are:
- Heart failure
- MI (mitral insufficiency)
- DCM, PDAB (persistent ductus arteriosus Botalli)
- Pericard overfill
As we are not veterinarians, we will refer you to the vet for specific questions.
All our puppies are checked by the vet for any heart defects and normally this happens during their first vaccination.