Aortic Stenosis is a narrowing of the outflow channel between the left ventricle and the main artery of the body, the aorta. This can occur at the level of the aortic valve (valvular); above the aortic valve, in the aorta (supravalvular); or below the aortic valve, in the ventricle (subvalvular) — this is the most common. The cause of Aortic Stenosis is believed to be genetically inherited.
Symptoms can vary from no signs at all to sudden death. Dogs with mild stenosis will generally show no clinical effects and have a normal life expectancy. In most cases, an abnormal sound of the heart (a systolic murmur), detected by stethoscope, is the only finding. With moderate to severe stenosis, signs may vary. Some dogs may show signs of exercise intolerance or fainting. As the condition progresses, symptoms may include difficulty in breathing, coughing, abnormal heart rythms, and sudden death.
Congenital aortic stenosis is one of the most common heart defects seen in large breed dogs. Newfoundland Dogs have the highest risk for this disorder. It is also seen in the Golden Retriever, Rottweiler, and Boxer. The German Shepherd, German Short-Haired Pointer, Great Dane, Samoyed, and Bulldog are also at higher risk of the disease.
Note: This section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website is intended as a source of information only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional care. Always consult with your Veterinarian about health related matters.