Issue Description Heart valve dysplasia is a congenital heart
defect which in dogs and cats affects the aortic, pulmonary, mitral,
and tricuspid heart valves.
Causes The cause is unknown, but genetics play a large
Symptoms The disease and symptoms are similar to
progression of acquired valve disease in older dogs. Valve leakage
leads to heart enlargement, arrhythmias, and congestive heart failure.
Heart valve dysplasia can be tolerated for years or progress to heart
failure in the first year of life. Diagnosis is with an
echocardiogram. There is a poor prognosis with significant heart
Diagnosis Your veterinarian may detect a heart murmur
before your dog is showing any signs associated with mitral valve
disease. Further investigation by radiographs and electrocardiogram
may reveal some of the changes that occur in the heart over time, as
it works harder to compensate for the insufficiency of the valve.
These changes may include enlargement of the sides of the heart
affected, enlargement of blood vessels in the lungs, and cardiac
Treatment It may be many years before heart disease
develops. If and when it does, your veterinarian can recommend several
medical therapies to ease life for your dog. Depending on the stage of
heart disease, these may include a special sodium-restricted diet,
exercise restriction, diuretics to reduce fluid build-up, and
medication to support the failing heart.