Ailments common among Labrador, Dobermann, Spitz, Pomeranian, Great Dane, Dachshund and Boxer breeds
Thamma, a one-and-a-half-year-old Caravan Hound, was resting near its pet parent, Lakshmi, on a sofa after lunch. All of a sudden, it gave a howl and fell off the sofa. The dog, which remained unresponsive, was rushed to the Madras Veterinary College (MVC) Hospital in Vepery, where the clinician said it had died of a cardiac arrest.
“The death could have been due to arrhythmia caused by an abnormal rhythm of the heart. In the case of Thamma, it could have been congenital,” explained S. Balasubramanian, director of clinics, Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (Tanuvas).
The most common heart disease afflicting dogs is degenerative mitral valve disease, followed by dilated cardiomyopathy, pericardial disease, congenital heart disease and cardiac neoplasm.
‘Increase with age’
“Five to 10% of dogs have heart diseases, and this increases with age. Do not breed a dog which has heart disease, as there is a possibility of the ailment getting passed on to the next generation,” said K. Jeyaraja, professor of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, MVC.
He said that if a dog frequently faints at a young age, the pet owner should consult a veterinarian to rule out life-threatening arrhythmias or congenital heart disease.
Clinicians at the Madras Veterinary College Hospital have found that degenerative mitral valve disease is common in breeds like the Pomeranian, Spitz and Dachshund, and usually occurs during old age.
Dr. Jeyaraja said the common symptoms of a heart disease were persistent cough, exercise intolerance, breathing difficulty and abdominal distension.
“If the cough does not subside in a few days, pet owners should consult a veterinarian. A dog with an advanced heart disease would have difficulty breathing while resting and would prefer to sit or stand. It may exhibit a reluctance to walk or engage in regular exercise,” he said.
Clinicians advise cardiac screening for dogs above six years of age. “Besides thorough physical examination, electrocardiography, radiography and echocardiography would help us narrow it down to the underlying cause and the disease,” said S. Kavitha, head of the Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, MVC, Chennai.
Dr. Balasubramanian said medical management would improve the quality of life of the dogs.
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