Like many other breeds, Labrador Retrievers may also suffer from aortic stenosis. This occurs when there is malformation in the aorta—the largest artery in the body. Because the aorta serves as a blood vessel and passageway of blood distributed in the entire body, any malformation would prevent the proper flow of blood throughout the body. Aortic Stenosis in Labrador Retrievers is also characterized by a narrowed aortic valve which puts more pressure on the heart causing the muscle cells to grow in size and heart walls to thicken.
Aortic Stenosis in Labrador Retrievers is a form of congenital disease. It is common in large breeds including Labradors. It is also the second most common heart defect in large breed dogs. The manifestations of the effects of aortic stenosis depend largely on the degree of malformation or shrinking of the aorta. There are Labradors that only inherit the milder type of disease which is almost barely detectable but there are also some that inherit the more serious types.
Causes of Aortic Stenosis in Labrador Retrievers
Labrador Retrievers with aortic stenosis have acquired the disease at birth. However, there are also dogs who suffer from the disease as caused by inflammation on the lining of the heart.
Symptoms of Aortic Stenosis in Labrador Retrievers
The malformation of the aorta usually develops during the first months in life. Take note of the symptoms which usually become apparent as your dog grows. Depending on the severity of the defect, the symptoms may appear earlier or later as your dog matures. Some of the symptoms you need to watch out for include heart failure, unusual lung sounds and difficulty in breathing or gasping for air due to lack of oxygen.
There are also Labradors that do not appear to have these symptoms but they do suffer from other effects especially when the heart is forced to work hard to push blood on the narrow pathway. The heart is often overworked and this causes the heart to grow bigger through time. Labradors that suffer from this disease type show symptoms of coughing and cardiac arrhythmia. The latter is a result from the increasing size of the heart which intervenes with the heart’s normal activity. This is something that you should not take in lightly as death may follow when no action is taken.
A diagnosis could be made your veterinarian by examining the health history of your dog and taking note of the onset of the symptoms. Physical examinations will also be administered to see abnormal lung sounds or heart murmurs which may indicate a heart valve dysfunction. However, these sounds may also just be normal sounds that result from fever or excitement. Your vet will be able to distinguish normal murmurs from serious ones though. Lab tests such as CBC, urinalysis and gathering of biochemistry profile are necessary. An x-ray may also be used to see if there is an increase in heart size or defects in your dog’s lungs.
There is still an ongoing controversy regarding the right treatment or methods to cure aortic stenosis. However, it is agreed that treatments and therapies should focus more on reducing the complications that will worsen the effects of the existing defects. Often times, the situation may call for an open heart surgery to treat or replace the defective valve. But the prognosis may still not be worth the health benefit of your dog. On the other hand, the catherization or the widening of the vessels also gives the same prognosis and may not guarantee survival advantages. Dogs with this disease are provided with antibiotics to prevent the risk of developing heart infections.
Living with Labradors
As a loving pet owner, the best thing you can do for your Labrador Retriever is minimize the symptoms of Aortic Stenosis in Labrador Retrievers to prevent further complications and provide a better quality of life. Sometimes, regular activities may be limited to prevent possible complications that may arise as a result of having an overworked heart. You can also alter your dog’s diet to low sodium diet to lessen the effects brought about by heart failure. Labradors with this disease should also be neutered and restricted from breeding. Labradors who are affected with milder types of aortic stenosis are likely to have an average lifespan without having to undergo treatment. It is important that you keep an eye on your dog to see changes in their physical appearance, actions and behavior. Should there be an unusual or significant change, always inform your veterinarian.