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Sick Sinus Syndrome in Dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

Have you heard of sick sinus syndrome in dogs but aren’t quite sure what it is or what the prognosis of such a disease will be? This is the place to start. This article will tell you everything you need to know about this disease. Hint: it’s not just a runny nose (isn’t that the first thing you think of when you hear ‘sinus’).

What is Sick Sinus Syndrome?

Well, to start, there is more than one “sinus” in the body. In this disease, the word refers to a node in the heart called the sinoatrial node. That’s why sometimes this is called heart disease of the sinus.

What happens?

It might be the first time you’re hearing of it, but the sinoatrial node (sa node, sinus node or SAN) has a specific job necessary for the heart to work. It actually makes the heart beat with electrical charges by communicating with the AV node (atrioventricular node). So, when a dog has sick sinus syndrome it means the impulses are all out of whack. Something known as sinus arrest might happen – this is when the electrical impulse stops.

Here are some other things that can happen to dogs or cats with sick sinus syndrome:

  • Atrial fibrillation, which is irregular heartbeat from the atria, can be caused by SSS.
  • Tachycardia-bradycardia syndrome or a slower then faster heartbeat,
  • Sinus Bradycardia which is a slow beat,
  • Coronary heart disease which is the result of high blood pressure,
  • Tachycardias or a rapid heartbeat,

Pets at risk for developing Sick Sinus syndrome

Both cats and dogs can get sick sinus syndrome. Among dogs, there are some dog breeds that are more at risk such as cocker spaniels.

Symptoms or Clinical Signs of Sick Sinus Syndrome

If you think that your dog or cat has sick sinus syndrome you may or may not see symptoms. If you do see symptoms, they can include things such as:

  • Changes in heartbeat (you may not notice this unless you have a stethoscope),
  • Long pauses between heart beats,
  • Panting,
  • Collapse or fainting/ syncope (when the brain doesn’t get enough blood),
  • Loss of appetite, general weakness,
  • Sometimes (but rarely) sudden death,

Diagnosis of sick sinus syndrome

If you think your dog or cat has sick sinus syndrome then you should take him or her to the vet immediately. Only a veterinarian can do a proper diagnosis. He/she will probably test your dog. Possible tests could include:

  • Urinalysis,
  • CBC (complete blood count),
  • ECG,
  • Taking the pet’s medical history (including family),

Your vet may also ask that you make your dog wear a holter monitor for 1-2 days to see the results. A holter monitor shows the heartbeats throughout the day so that your vet can see if there are any irregularities, and if so, what kind. This is one of the best ways to see what’s going on in your dog’s heart.

Treatment Options

Some vets may recommend an artificial pacemaker implantation for your dog or cat. This will help regulate heartbeats. However, this is definitely a very costly solution and may not work.

Plus…

Dog patients will need to be in the hospital for a number of days during the surgery. You need to consult your vet for the right advice to decide if a permanent pacemaker will work for your pet.

Or your vet…

Might prescribe some medications to treat the symptoms, but not to cure sick sinus syndrome. One of those could be propantheline bromide, which can help your dog from sweating and cramping.

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 sick sinus syndrome (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!

Because…

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

How much is this all going to cost? Well, it’s not going to be cheap, especially if you decide to get a pacemaker for your dog. It could cost as low as $200 (if you only go for diagnosis and decide you don’t need treatment) and it could be as expensive as $3000 or more if you get an implant for the heart.

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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