Arrhythmia in dogs is a heart rhythm disorder. During normal heart function, electrical impulses along the heart muscle (myocardium) are coordinated.
Because of this, cuts occur in the correct sequence. Breaking this rhythm is called arrhythmia.
Causes of Arrhythmia in Dogs
Most often the arrhythmia is secondary, arising as a complication of the underlying disease. Often this is a disease of the heart itself, although it is also not rare that an arrhythmia occurs in other pathologies: diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, lungs, and cancer of the chest.
Also, arrhythmia is a constant companion of diseases that are accompanied by diarrhea and vomiting, anemia and blood loss. Also, the heart rate may be disturbed in response to pain and stress. Critical conditions such as prolonged lack of water and hunger, hypothermia, or heat stroke can also lead to disruption of the electrical activity of the heart muscle.
Often accompanied by arrhythmia acute surgical pathology (diaphragmatic hernia, torsion of the stomach), various injuries and injuries of the chest. At the same time, arrhythmia significantly worsens the course of the underlying disease, since it can lead to a decrease in cardiac output, and this disrupts the blood circulation process.
As a result, organs and tissues receive less oxygen, and metabolic products accumulate in the cells, causing poisoning of the body. Also, heart rhythm disturbances can cause a sudden death of a dog. There are also breed predispositions for arrhythmias. Most often, the disease with an indispensable companion-arrhythmia is found in boxers and Dobermans.
This is dilated cardiomyopathy. Dogs of these breeds as a preventive measure need to undergo an annual cardiac examination.
Symptoms of arrhythmia
The danger of arrhythmia is that it can be completely asymptomatic. Often, it is accidentally discovered when a dog is examined by a cardiologist or a general practitioner.
The following clinical signs may indicate arrhythmia:
- intermittent dyspnea
- decrease in tolerance of usual physical activities for dogs.
However, many dog breeders do not immediately pay attention to such signs. And they should serve as a reason for an urgent appeal to the veterinarian and various diagnostic tests.
Diagnosis of arrhythmia in dogs
The veterinarian needs not only to recognize the arrhythmia, but also to find its cause. To do this, the doctor examines the dog, listens to its heart and removes the electrocardiogram (ECG). It is the ECG that makes it possible to determine the type of arrhythmia, assess its danger and select the appropriate therapy.
To determine the cause of arrhythmia, blood tests (biochemical and clinical) will be needed. To determine the stage of the disease and possible pathologies that accompany it, a chest X-ray may be required. If a disease of the cardiovascular system is suspected, then for an accurate diagnosis a dog may be examined by cardiology, an echocardiography can be done - an ultrasound of the heart.
If the arrhythmia is not constant, then Holter monitoring is carried out to identify its causes: a small device is attached to the dog, which writes a cardiogram for several hours. The dog lives an ordinary life. After that, the data from the device is transferred to a computer and the doctor analyzes them.
For the treatment of arrhythmia, it is necessary to identify the primary problem of its development and try to eliminate it. There are also special drugs - antiarrhythmics, which are prescribed to eliminate the symptoms of arrhythmia. An ECG is reused to test their effectiveness.
Usually, drug therapy removes well the main cause of the disease and the attack of arrhythmia can be stopped, and new attacks - to control. However, in some cases persistent heart rhythm disturbances occur that threaten the life of the animal.
Then the doctor selects an effective antiarrhythmic drug, which the dog will have to use for life or recommend installing an pacemaker for the animal, which will control the heart rhythm.