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Ventricular Septal Disease (VSD) in Dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

Ventricular septal disease aka VSD is a problem that can strike cats, dogs and humans!

But just because…

Your pet has a heart murmur or an irregular heartbeat doesn’t mean it’s VSD. This is why we decided to dedicate an article all about ventricular septal disease in dogs and cats so that if you suddenly find yourself the owner of a pet that develops this condition you’ll be better prepared for what to expect.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

What is Ventricular Septal Disease?

As you may know the heart is made up of the right and left ventricle as well as the right and left atrium. The ventricular septum is the wall between the two ventricles. The job of it is to help control the blood flow.

When there is…

A septal defect, there is a problem with the wall that impacts the blood flow. In dogs, the most common type of VSD is subaortic. This means basically that it happens below the aortic valve rather than above it.

Now it’s important to remember…

That there are a lot of different ways the heart’s blood flow can be obstructed. The disease name changes depending on where and how it is obstructed. Left ventricular obstruction is known as subaortic stenosis.

Clinical Signs & Symptoms of VSD

While it can happen to cats and dogs, it’s a bit more common in cats. The difficult thing is that many of them are asymptomatic. That basically means as an owner, you’re not going to notice a difference in your cat at all.

If there are…

Any symptoms it will be things like breathing problems, exercise intolerance, or maybe coughing. Breathing problems like this occur since a left ventricular problem like VSD can cause a problem with blood delivery to the lungs aka causing pulmonary problems.

Ventricular septal defects are most likely genetic.

Diagnosis of Ventricular Septal Defect in Pets

If you think that there is something wrong with your dog or cat, always take him or her to the vet for a diagnosis. Now’s a good time for us to mention – we are not vets or medical professionals. Our purpose here is only to provide information. None of this should be interpreted as a diagnosis, treatment or cure.

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 ventricular septal disease (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!

Okay, now that that’s out of the way…

A lot of animals get diagnosed for VSD almost accidentally (as we stated, there may not be signs). It could happen that the vet notices it during another test like a thoracic x-ray or complete blood profile, or a urinalysis.


It is of course possible that if you see symptoms, the vet can diagnose it using the same tests. If a pet has a holosystolic murmur, the vet may also look into VSD.

Treatment of VSD

Now that you know your dog has VSD, you are probably looking for a treatment option. There are a few options, all that require cardiopulmonary bypass or some kind of heart surgery.  It’s likely your pet will need a left-to-right shunt or a right-to-left shunt to help. He/she may also need artery banding.

Because the heart…

Is rather delicate and a lot of things are interrelated, your pet’s heart may have more than one problem. So, the treatment will vary based on this. Some dogs will additionally have congestive heart failure (which you probably know is a big deal), while others will suffer from tetralogy of fallot or another problem. The exact treatment will vary depending on this.

Cost of Treatment
Some people choose not to treat their dog, or to just give him or her palliative care. This is certainly the cheapest option, but your dog is not going to live as long. If you choose to go with surgery, it’s likely to be $1500-6000, depending on the exact heart surgery that’s needed.

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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