Heart Problems

The dachshund is prone to several forms of heart disease, most of which develop later in life. Prompt diagnosis is very important with heart disease. Early treatment can greatly improve symptoms to improve your dachsie's quality of life and comfort, and in some cases surgery may be able to correct the problem.

Endocardiosis or Myxomatous Valve Degeneration (MVD)

Nearly all canine heart disease cases — 70 to 80 percent — are due to leaky heart valves. The specific condition that dachshunds are prone to is called endocardiosis, or myxomatous valve degeneration (MVD). With MVD, over a period of many years, the edges of the mitral valves gradually thicken and deform, causing them to close improperly with the potential to cause congestive heart failure over time.

Symptoms of this disease include weakness, syncope (passing out), exercise intolerance, a cough, lethargy or listlessness, and shortness of breath. In an exam, the veterinarian will hear a murmur or arrhythmia (irregular heart beat).

There are no preventive measures that can halt the onset of MVD. Mild cases of the disease do not require anything other than careful monitoring to make sure it is not progressing. If the dachshund's MVD worsens, your veterinarian may recommend specific dietary changes as well as prescribe medications that can make her more comfortable.

Congenital Heart Disease

The most common form of congenital heart defects found in all breeds of dogs is patent ductus arteriosus, or PDA. PDA is an inherited defect in which a partition between the lungs and the aorta (the major artery that carries blood to the body) does not close properly in the developing fetus, leaving a hole. The lungs are flooded with blood while the rest of the body doesn't get enough. According to research, dachshunds are 2.5 times more likely to develop PDA than many other breeds.

A congenital defect is one that is formed during the growth of the fetus in the womb and is present in the newborn puppy. A congenital defect is not necessarily hereditary, though it can be.

The disease is often discovered at the pup's eight-week veterinary examination. The puppy may have pale pink gums and lips, a sign of poor blood flow, and a heart murmur. Fortunately, surgery can correct the problem.

Cardiac Arrhythmias

Older dachshunds have been noted as being at increased risk (over the general dog population) of developing sick sinus syndrome (SSS) or an atrioventricular (AV) block. These heart diseases affect the rhythm of the dog's heart, which either beats too fast or abnormally slow.

Symptoms of these diseases are initially vague, but they can include lethargy, listlessness, confusion, exercise intolerance, or an abnormally low heart rate after exercise. The dog may pass out if blood flow is too low. Treatment includes medications or surgical implantation of a canine pacemaker. The cost of implanting a pacemaker into a dachshund is $1,200 or more. Be sure to keep adding to that emergency dachsie fund!

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