Life-threatening heart arrhythmia’s in dogs

Although it is rare, some dogs, often Labrador Retrievers, suffer from life-threatening, arrhythmia caused by atrioventricular accessory pathways (APs).

APs are abnormal electrical circuits in the heart that can become activated and overcome the heart’s normal current pathways, severely impairing the heart’s ability to pump.

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Accessory atrioventricular pathways are atypical muscle bundles that connect the atrium to a ventricle outside of the regular atrioventricular system. The traditional treatment is life-long medications and frequent trips to the veterinarian. However, Dr. Kathy N. Wright and her colleagues at MedVet, a family of emergency and specialty veterinary hospitals around the United States have used a technique that is successful in humans, to treat dogs.

What she has demonstrated is that radiofrequency catheter ablation is a safe and highly effective alternative to successfully treat dogs. RFCA uses radiofrequencies to destroy those rogue circuits and allow the heart’s normal function to resume. In her study, dogs were cured with one or two treatments.

Again, this is a case of human medicine benefitting dogs. It is encouraging to think that veterinarians and human doctors will continue to work together to make all of us healthier.

Puppies born in the summer are at a greater risk of heart disease

Puppies born June through August have the highest risk of developing heart disease says a study by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. They feel that air pollution may be the cause. Their study showed that breeds that are already prone to heart disease were not affected by their birth month but breeds that are not prone to heart disease were affected.

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Puppies born in July had the highest risk, at 74%. The researchers found that the risk for heart disease existed for both dogs and humans. Outside air pollution during pregnancy and at the time of birth appears to play a role in later development of heart disease. They coordinated their findings with research that had been conducted on people and found similarities. While the connection between outside air pollution is suspect, it has not been completely proven to be the cause but is a strong suspect.

I would like to see further research to see if the risk is greater in cities and countries where there is greater or less air pollution and compare it with the current findings. In the meantime, for those dogs born within the suspected time-frame, it would benefit dog owners to make sure that they take their dogs for annual checkups and watch for signs of heart issues. Also, diligent breeders could avoid having puppies born in the summer.