Dear Daisy Dog
We took Jake, our new golden retriever puppy, to the veterinarian, who heard a heart murmur. She is concerned that Jake may have subaortic stenosis, and she referred him to a veterinary cardiologist for an echocardiogram.
What can you tell us about subaortic stenosis?
Subaortic stenosis (SAS) is a congenital heart defect, a malformation present at birth. It is the second most common congenital heart defect in dogs.
It occurs most frequently in golden retrievers, Newfoundlands, Rottweilers, boxers and German shepherds.
SAS is a narrowing (stenosis) of the heart’s left ventricle near the aortic valve. This obstruction impedes the flow of blood as it leaves the heart and moves into the aorta, the large artery that distributes blood to the body.
As your veterinarian told you, SAS is diagnosed by echocardiogram, a painless ultrasound examination that evaluates the inside of the heart.
Dogs with mild to moderate SAS usually show no clinical signs, but dogs with severe disease may tire and even collapse during exercise or excitement.
SAS worsens as the puppy grows, but it progresses very little after the dog reaches mature body weight. You can help Jake by keeping him lean and giving any medications your cardiologist prescribes.
It’s important, too, that you keep Jake’s teeth and gums healthy. Bacteria from dental disease can infect the heart, causing endocarditis, particularly in dogs with SAS.