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Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) in dogs.

Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) in dogs.

Atrial septal defect (ASD) in dogs is a congenital heart defect that occurs in utero whereby the affected patient’s heart fails to form correctly.  Specifically, the wall within the heart that separates the left and right atrium from each other does not create altogether leaving a small “hole” whereby oxygen-rich blood from the right atrium can flow “backward” to the oxygen-poor blood contained in the left atrium (AKA right-to-left shunt).

Affected hearts…

It will have what is referred to as a “hole” between the upper two chambers (left atrium and right atrium).  This “hole” then allows oxygen-rich blood to leak into the oxygen-poor blood chambers of the heart.

As a result, the affected heart runs the risk of potentially delivering “under-oxygenated” blood from the heart to the rest of the body.  This in turn can force the heart to work harder to lead to a whole series of medical conditions that significantly affect the overall wellbeing of your loved one.

Symptoms that may indicate that your dog suffers from atrial septal defect may include:

  • Failure to thrive or develop normally,
  • General fatigue,
  • Shortness of breath after exercise,
  • Fainting after exercise,
  • Stroke and or heart failure.

Clinical signs your veterinarian will likely look for may include:

  • An irregular heart rate,
  • Pulmonary over circulation,
  • Murmurs,
  • And/or palpitations.

Fortunately, while atrial septal defect is a “potentially” severe heart disease, for most affected dogs, the condition will not prevent them from being able to live an every day and symptom-free life. This is mainly because, in most cases, the size of the “defect” is small enough that its effect doesn’t cause the affected individual to suffer from any outward symptoms.


There will be some dogs where the atrial septal defect creates significant medical problems which may need to be treated for your pet’s lifespan.  In cases like these, it’s not uncommon for the atrial septal defect to be a part of some larger “spectrum” of congenital disabilities such as Tetralogy of Fallot, subaortic stenosis, or ventricle septal defects (VSD).

Treatment of atrial septal defect in dogs

Treatment of atrial septal defect in dogs will typically depend on the severity of the actual defect itself.  As noted before, most dogs suffering from atrial septal defect will remain asymptomatic, so little if any care will be necessary.

Now for those that…

Suffer from more severe cases; it is “theoretically” possible to have the septal defect repaired surgically via open-heart surgery.  However, long-term studies have shown poor results when this is performed, so at this point, the “general” wisdom among the “veterinarian” world seems to suggest that heart disease medications are usually the best bet in treating dogs with atrial-severe septal defects.

This is usually…

This a good time and place to remind our readers that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not medical professionals and are certainly not veterinarians.  All we are is a bunch of folks who are passionate about animals.  So, if you think you have a pet that may be suffering from atrial septal defect or may be suffering from any medical condition, have them looked at by a professional for goodness’ sake!

We only chose to…

Write about medical conditions such as an atrial septal defect because we know that when someone is trying to get a “general” understanding of a medical condition, doctors tend to make things unintelligible with all of their knowledge (which isn’t a problem for folks like us!)

Plus, we also like to remind folks that if they are thinking about adopting a pet, they need to take this “idea” seriously because if you do choose to adopt a pet, you are “choosing” to become responsible for anything that happens to that pet, which includes suffering from any medical condition that could require you to have to pay some serious medical bills in the future.

This is why…

We also like to recommend that anyone thinking about adopting a pet also take a moment and consider possibly purchasing pet insurance policy so that if heavens forbid, your furry family member were to become sick or injured, you wouldn’t have to burden the cost of their care all on your own.

For more information, please visit our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.

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