What is Patent Ductus Arteriosus In Dogs?

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Patent Ductus Arteriosus In Dogs-PDA

Patent ductus arteriosus* is the most common congenital heart defect in dogs in the United States. It is inherited in toy and miniature Poodles, and seen commonly in Pomeranians, Bichon Frises, and the Maltese Breed.

Signs include cough and exercise intolerance and poor weight gain.

PDA is a congenital disorder in the heart wherein a neonate’s ductus arteriosus fails to close after birth. Although early symptoms are uncommon, but left untreated, age may lead to congestive heart failure.

The ductus arteriosus is a normal fetal blood vessel that closes soon after birth, in a PDA, the vessel does not close and remains “patent” (open) resulting in irregular transmission of blood between two of the most important arteries close to the heart, the aorta and the pulmonary artery.

The PDA allows a portion of the oxygenated blood from the left heart to flow back to the lungs by flowing from the aorta, which has higher pressure to the pulmonary artery. And the neonate becomes short of breath, the additional fluid returning to the lungs increases lung pressure to the point that the neonate has greater difficulty inflating the lungs.

This process uses more calories than normal, which causes your dog to be under weight.

Once a newborn has begun breathing on its own, the pulmonary artery opens to allow blood to flow from the right of the heart into the lungs to be oxygenated, and the ductus arteriosus closes. But in PDA the connection remains open and therefore the blood is shunted or diverted in abnormal patterns in the heart.

Signs and symptoms

• Respiratory problems

• Shortness of breath

• Stunted growth

• Tachycardia (unregularly heart beat, rhythm)

• Cardiomegaly- enlarged heart

Right to left shunting PDA

Weakened hind legs

Blood is thicker than normal, causing irregular heartbeat, pink, or bluish gums, and bluish skin around the anus or vulva.

Possible left sided congestive heart failure

Rapid irregular heart beat

Stunted growth.


Genetic predisposition e.g. birth defect.


Because this condition is genetically transmitted, dogs with PDA should not be bred with this trait. The only way to avoid this is to have your dog spayed or neutered, and know your dog’s hereditary history.





June 2018
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