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Cardiomyopathy in Boxer Dogs

Ventricular Arrhythmia in Boxer Dogs

Cardiomyopathy is most commonly characterized by an irregular heartbeat. Fainting or even sudden heart failure can occur, and some patients can develop congestive heart failure. Cardiomyopathy is specific to the boxer; however, similar symptoms have also been seen in English bulldogs. It tends to occur in dogs that are at least two years old, although symptoms in dogs as young as six months have been reported. At the same time, some patients don’t demonstrate symptoms until they are older than ten years.

Symptoms and Types

  • Veterinarian may notice an irregular heartbeat in a routine exam
  • Fainting (syncope)
  • Coughing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen
  • Sudden death

Causes

Believed to be inherited, but a genetic defect has not been identified.

Diagnosis

You will need to provide a thorough history of your pet's health leading up to the onset of symptoms, including any information you have on your dog's familial background.

Your veterinarian will want to rule out the following possible causes of the symptoms before determining a congenital cause of this condition. An electrocardiogram ECG and an ultrasound of the heart and/or abdomen may be used in the screening process.

  • Aortic stenosis
  • Other cardiac disease
  • Blockage of the aorta
  • Cardiac disease
  • Abdominal disease

Blood tests will be ordered, but not a urinalysis in this case because it would not reveal relevant information. A thoracic radiograph (chest x-ray) might help to determine whether there is enlargement of the heart, or any other evidence of heart failure. If your veterinarian suspects cardiac disease, a heart monitor may be placed on your dog to determine the severity and complexity of the arrhythmia. This will also give a baseline for comparison once treatment is started.

 

 
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