Just had another interesting case I wanted to share. The patient is Cleo, a female Old English Sheep dog/Poodle Cross, who is now a healthy 16-month-old. Cleo had a heart murmur when she was in for her 1st puppy visit at 8 weeks old. A heart murmur is an abnormal ‘whoosh’ type sound to the heart when it beats. Many heart murmurs are quiet and not a worry to a pet’s health. Other murmurs are louder and can mean serious heart disease is present.
Cleo’s murmur was loud enough that I was concerned that there was something significant with her heart. However, Cleo was a bouncy happy puppy who was growing normally, able to run around fine and showed no clinical signs. We decided to monitor her heart murmur closely as she grew and came in for her puppy vaccine visits. She did not grow out of the murmur over the coming months, in fact, it started to sound louder to me. Finally before her spay, at 6 months of age, the owners and I decided it was best to have an ultrasound of her heart performed.
The ultrasound or echocardiogram of her heart showed a defect called a Patent Ductus Arteriosus (or PDA). This is a heart defect that Cleo would have been born with. The ductus is a hole or communication between the artery and venous circulation of the heart and should close within hours of birth. In Cleo’s case, it stayed open and the normal pattern of blood flow through the heart was disrupted causing the murmur sound I was hearing. If this defect was left untreated, she would eventually go into heart failure and 50% of dogs will die within the first year!
Luckily in Edmonton, we have a team of surgical specialists with extra training to fix complicated problems like Cleo’s heart defect. I was able to refer Cleo over to Guardian Veterinary Centre and she had open heart surgery to close the defect and was also spayed. She came through without any complications and was able to go home the very next day!
3 months later, she had another ultrasound of her heart and the defect was 90-95% closed and her heart looked normal. She is expected to live a completely normal life now. The advances in veterinary medicine and surgery are truly remarkable these days. Cleo and her owners were so fortunate to have access to this specialty care and expertise!
Written by Dr. Jessica Wilson