Aortic Stenosis in Dogs

Aortic stenosis or AS is a heart condition that is typically inherited in dogs, but may also occur in senior dogs due to aging. AS is a disease that occurs when the dog has a narrower passage above or bellow the aortic valve. This will cause an obstruction of the blood flow in the heart and to the other organs and blood vessels.

Causes of Aortic Stenosis

Most commonly AS is inherited, but the condition may occur later in life, in senior dogs, due to the weakening of the heart.

The reason for aortic stenosis is linked to the abnormal formation of nodules, which are tissues that cover the aorta.

AS is more frequently met in certain breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Boxers, Rottweilers or Newfoundlands.

Symptoms of Aortic Stenosis in Dogs

In most cases, the AS symptoms will be manifested in early puppyhood; the disease will not progress except in a few puppies.

The puppy will have a general state of weakness due to the lack of oxygenation of the brain and the other vital organs; the dog will be resistant to exercise, cough after performing exercise and may also faint due to lack of sufficient oxygen in the brain or other organs. Abnormal heart rate and heart murmur may also be present; however, in time, the dog's organism may compensate for the defect and the dog may have a normal heart rate.

In rare cases, aortic stenosis can lead to sudden death. However, in most cases, AS will be mild and may not affect the dog's life quality.

Detection of Aortic Stenosis

The aortic stenosis may be diagnosed through several tests. First of all, the vet will listen to the dog's heart beats to determine if there is a heart murmur present.

However, additional tests are required to confirm AS. An x-ray may identify if the heart chambers have a normal size.

Other tests that may be performed to determine AS include electrocardiography, ultrasounds and Doppler studies.

Treatment Options for Aortic Stenosis

The dog affected by aortic stenosis should avoid strenuous exercise, especially in warm days, when the heart can be overworked.

The dog should also have a special diet and you have to make sure he won't become overweight; an excess of weight will be a burden on the dog's heart and this will aggravate the dog's condition.

The vet may prescribe medications such as beta blockers; these drugs will reduce the workload of the heart and regularize the heart rhythm and will be recommended only if the condition is severe. If the condition is milder, the vet will not prescribe any drugs, but will monitor the dog's condition and recommend regular checkups.

Prevention of AS

Aortic stenosis is a genetic defect and it is not possible to predict which dogs will give birth to puppies with this defect, consequently AS cannot be prevented.

However dogs affected by AS should not be bred.