Diseases & Conditions
Ventricular Septal Defect
What is a ventricular septal defect?
A ventricular septal defect (VSD) is a hole or tear in the septum of the muscular wall which separates the two lower chambers of the heart known as the right and left ventricles. These defects occur during the embryonic development of the heart, and are present at birth. The size of severity of the defect varies from case to case as will the severity of the symptoms. In very severe cases, a ventricular septal defect can result in death.
What will a ventricular septal defect look like in my dog?
The symptoms of a ventricular septal defect are the general symptoms of a heart condition. These include difficulty breathing, lack of energy and grayish gums. In severe cases, a ventricular septal defect may result in death. These symptoms may become apparent shortly after birth, but, in some cases, take years to develop.
How does my dog get a ventricular septal defect?
A ventricular septal defect is an inherited condition that may be found in all dogs. However, a higher incidence of this condition has been observed in certain breeds such as Bulldogs.
How is a ventricular septal defect diagnosed?
A ventricular septal defect will usually first be detected by your vet in the course of routine physical examination. By listening to your dog’s heart with a stethoscope, your vet will be able to hear a heart murmur. Further testing will include x-rays, ultrasound and an electrocardiogram.
How is a ventricular septal defect treated?
Minor ventricular septal defects may be treated by addressing the symptoms. Medications will be prescribed to ease breathing problems and support the heart. Your dog will have to maintain proper weight and his exercise will have to be restricted. More severe causes require the septum to be surgically repaired.
How is ventricular septal defect prevented?
Since it is an inherited condition, dogs with a family history of a ventricular septal defects should not be bred. Likewise, you should not acquire a dog with a family history of this condition.
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) is a non-profit
organization dedicating to reducing the incidence of genetic and
orthopedic diseases. The OFA has an open access database you can access
online that grades the general cardiac health (by whether or not the
dog has a heart murmur) of registered dogs used for breeding. Before
acquiring a dog, you should check this database to see if your
prospective dog's family has a history of cardiac health. If your
prospective dog's family is not listed, you should inquire with the
breeder as to why this is so. This is an important safeguard. Click here to visit the OFA website.
Can I get a ventricular septal defect from my dog?
No, you cannot contract ventricular septal defect from your dog.