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Saddle Thrombus (or aortic thromboembolism) in Dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

As a pet owner, its pretty safe to say that if your speaking with your vet about the health of your animal, you generally don’t want to have the word “aortic” come into play.

Which is why…

We wanted to take a moment and discuss what to expect if you ever find yourself in a situation.  Which could happen especially because if you noticed, even though we’ve titled this article as “Saddle Thrombus in Dogs”, aortic thromboembolism is something that can happen to dogs, cats, or even in us humans too!


Now that we’ve probably gained your attention, let’s dive right into the topic and see if we can’t answer some of the questions you may have about this condition.

What is Saddle Thrombus?

Saddle thrombus is a condition that goes by many names.  Names such as:

  • Saddle thrombus,
  • Aortic thromboembolism.

As well as the more common name, which is a heart blood clot.  Now regardless of which name you prefer, one this is for sure is that this is a serious medical condition.

This is because…

It is a condition that describes when a blood clot in the aorta “breaks free” and starts to move throughout once cardio vascular system potentially causing “problems” along the way.

This is known as…

Aortic thromboembolism and could be life threatening. You see, the aorta delivers oxygen to most of the major regions of the body and the last thing that you want to have happen if for a piece of “plaque” or other “obstruction” interfere with the proper flow of blood throughout your body… right?

Who is at risk?

It’s by far more common for cats to have aortic thromboembolisms than for dogs to suffer from it. This is called feline aortic thromboembolism and more often happens in the left atrium than the right. Cats usually have a type of thromboembolism that goes all the way to the iliac arteries. These are the arteries that reach the cat’s stomach region.


There is also some evidence that among dogs, those with canine immune-mediated hemolytic anemia are at a higher risk of developing a thromboembolism than dogs that do not have IMHA.

Symptoms of aortic thromboembolism

It’s tricky, to know such a serious thing is happening, but you will definitely see some major clinical signs and symptoms in your cat if it is. He/she will demonstrate a lot of pain, particularly in the rear legs. Other symptoms that will show up with arterial thromboembolism include:

  • Blue paws or nail beds,
  • Problem breathing,
  • Overall difficulty in moving. May appear to have a gait,
  • Sudden paralysis,
  • Unwillingness to move,
  • Vomiting,
  • Strange temperament,
  • And excessive sweating.

These are all serious signs that could indicate clots or another heart condition such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Whenever you see such symptoms, you should immediately take your dog or cat to the veterinarian for further investigation.

Diagnosis of aortic thromboembolism

The vet will see the dog or cat’s current condition and listen to his or her healthy history.  From there, it is likely that the vet will want the animal to undergo a series of tests and studies such as a urinalysis or chest x-ray.

Your pet may also…

Have to have an MRI, blood tests, blood pressure check, and other such things to help with the diagnosis process and to identify the condition.

Your dog…

Could also be suffering from a pulmonary embolism which basically means the clot or embolism has moved from the arteries to the lungs. This is why it’s important to get to the vet right away rather than trying to diagnose your dog or cat online.

Treatment of aortic thromboembolism in dogs and or cats

If your dog or cat suffers from saddle thrombus, he/she will probably have to be put in animal ICU immediately; otherwise he or she may not survive.  From there your vet will make the determination of whether or not surgery may be needed in order to remove the clot or clot dissolving medications might do the trick!

Prognosis of aortic thromboembolism in dogs and or cats

Fortunately, there are treatment options for pets that do end up acquiring a aortic thromboembolism, and for many who are diagnosed early and don’t suffer significant symptoms right away, a full recovery is possible.

The problem is…

That once this problem has occurred once, your pet will remain at an increase risk for it to happen again.  Which can really place a burden on an owners heart strings as well as his or her wallet!

Which brings us to…

Were we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who just happen to be passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.

This is why…

If you feel like your pet may have saddle thrombus (or any other health issue for that matter) the first thing that you’re going to want to do is have him or her check out by a vet ASAP!


The truth is, an early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering him or her, but beyond that diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs!

Cost of Treatment

This is not an easy thing to deal with, and like we mentioned, your dog or cat is going to have routine checkups for the rest of his or her life – even if he/she is healthy. Leaving the cost of treatment aside, this is going to be at least $100 every six or eight months.


The cost of a single x-ray would be on average $250 (could be more) and other diagnostic tests will be expensive too. It could cost as much as $700 just to get a diagnosis. Then, the actual costs of putting your dog or cat in intensive care. It all really adds up. You might spend as much as $3000 on getting treatment for your pet.

This is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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