Jack is a very cute 7 month old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. At his 8 week old puppy check up and vaccination it was noted that Jack had a very loud heart murmur. The murmur sounded consistent with a problem called a Patent Ductus Arteriosis (PDA). This is a congenital problem where a small blood vesel between the aorta and pulmonary artery does not close, as it should, when a dog is born. Left untreated a PDA will eventually cause life threathening changes to the heart.
Jack had a heart ultrasound to confirm the cause of his murmur, then we needed to decide what treatment was going to be best for him. Traditionally a PDA was fixed via open chest surgery to visualise the blood vessel and tie it off with a suture. Jack had a newer type of treatment done for his PDA, by Dr Richard Woolley, a pet heart specialist. This procedure involved Jack having a general anaesthetic. A small catheter was placed into his femoral artery and, with fluorpscopy guidance, a small plug was placed in the PDA.
Jack was back to his normal crazy self the next day, with only a few stitches in his leg to show that he had had surgery done.
Heart murmurs are not an uncommon finding in puppies. Luckily most murmurs are what we call "innocent" murmurs, meaning they disappear as a dog grows and never cause a problem. However, there are other murmurs, such as Jack's PDA, that require intervention to keep a patient as healthy as possible.