Atrial Septal Defect in Labradors is the same also with infants born with congenital heart disease. A dog’s heart is just like a human heart with four chambers and two sides. In this special defect, the right and left atrium are the ones affected. While in the stomach of the mother dog, the puppy’s heart has an opening between the left and right atrium to shunt the blood back and forth which facilitates circulation and emits higher pressure. The increased pressure is necessary at this point of their life because the lungs haven’t developed to take on the job of taking in oxygen yet. And when the puppy is born, a wall should have formed between the two atria and stop the shunting of the blood, but for dogs with ASD, this does not happen. Hence, where there should be a wall, an interatrial cavity, or in layman’s terms a “hole” develops inside the heart of the puppy.
When Atrial Septal Defect in Labradors occurs, the blood will recirculate into the heart instead of going out towards the body. It can cause an overflow of blood into one atrium of the heart from the other. Also, the pressure would increase resulting to hypertension and other respiratory and circulatory problems.
Causes of Atrial Septal Defect in Labradors
How\ specifically dogs acquire this defect, is still unknown, but there are several studies that showed that there might be some genetic loading to ASD. Although dogs, especially Labradors, affected with ASD account for a very small percentage of the population – just about 1%.
When do you have to worry about ASD in your Labradors?
For some dogs with ASD, it is hardly noticeable probably also because of the hardly noticeable size of the cavity between the left and right atria of their hearts. These lucky dogs, they will go on to live their normal lives as usual.
But when the interatrial cavity has significant damage, it could lead to congenital heart failure where the heart basically drowns from having too much blood pumped within its walls and blood to circulate. Your Labrador may also experience breathing problems, fainting, coughs, heart murmurs, fluid build-up on either side of the abdomen, and lack of energy from his or her usual physical activities.
Detection and prevention of Atrial Septal Defect in Labradors
Early detection of Atrial Septal Defect in Labradors can be done during the first medical examination if the doctor hears any heart murmurs from the puppy’s chest, but it’s often not conclusive, especially for puppies. When these symptoms persist with your pet, it would be best to take him or her to the veterinarian immediately. Prepare a background medical history of your dog, especially on when the symptoms started to occur. The vet should perform a complete physical exam including x-rays and cardiograms to see the damage to the heart, lungs, and other surrounding organs. Echocardiography is also used to see the extent of the blood flow from one of the atriums to check how big the cavity is in your pet’s heart.
Most dogs with ASD often go untreated because of the risky and very expensive procedures it would take to heal the hole within. If the hole is small enough, a dog will still be able to cope and live happily even with ASD. Dogs with worse cases, are often admitted to a veterinary hospital where there are oral medications that can be administered to stabilize their heart rate and pain if present. Consult with your veterinarian on the best and most affordable way to approach this problem with your dog. Dogs with ASD should be monitored in their daily activities and check if there are any abnormalities that arise from the defect or preexisting ones that can worsen the situation.
Living a normal life
No matter the defect, these dogs should still be treated to normal life and should still get enough play or physical activity, just not too much. As owners, you should be prepared to take responsibility for providing the best life for your dog and that could mean some sacrifice on your part. As a Labrador owner, there is very little to worry about as these cases are very rare. There are breeds that are predisposed to this defect, a Labrador is not one of them, such as the sheepdog, Doberman, and Samoyed.