An American Staffordshire Terrier is not one of the most healthy and hearty of dog breeds, and unfortunately the dog has a propensity to suffer from some congenital health conditions. Some of the medical conditions were not known to cause serious health problems until recently. Veterinary medicine has discovered that the American Staffordshire Terrier is prone to suffer from certain congenital conditions which are classified under heart disease, particularly congenital heart disease. The condition is referred to as CHD, is present from the time the puppy is born; it differs from Acquired Heart disease which is a condition that develops later on in life. While CHD is a rarity, it can lead to serious heart failure and death in the dog.
Heart failure is a result of when the heart is unable to meet the body’s demands for blood because it cannot pump normally. The problem with pumping can result in a backing up of blood to other vital organs of the body and can include the lungs and heart as well. Blood vessels are constricted and commonly the dog experiences an increased blood pressure. When there is pressure from blood in the vessels, fluid can leak and accumulate in body tissues and the lungs can become congested, which can also happen in the liver. Signs of CHD can be difficult to pinpoint particularly when presenting in the early stages. Dogs can become inactive and can cough after a period of strenuous activity; these can be warning signs of CHD. A dog may also become lethargic, lose weight, may faint, pant rapidly and exhibit a swollen abdomen when suffering from CHD. Sometimes CHD can cause a fluctuation in the blood flow through the heart and a vet can hear noises of turbulence when listening to the dogs’ chest area with a stethoscope.
A septal defect is a condition in which there is a hole in the heart, which means there is a passageway between the heart chambers which failed to close after the dog was born. There are a large number of other types of congenital defects that can affect an American Staffordshire Terrier, which can lead to fatality. If a heart condition is suspected, the dog should be taken to the veterinarian immediately for examination. An owner should be aware of the fact that an American Staffordshire Terrier can also die without having shown any outward signs of CHD or other congenital heart conditions. Regular veterinary check-ups should always be done to monitor or detect any hidden defects the dog may have and can result in the dogs’ life being saved.
There are a variety of conditions that are considered to be CHD. One example is a condition called Patent Ductus Arteriosus, which happens when small blood vessels which connect two major arteries in the heart do not close after the dog is born. The small blood vessel is imperative during fetal development because it bypasses the immature lungs which are not yet able to oxygenate the blood properly. When the vessel stays open after the dog is born, the condition prohibits the blood from circulating normally. Another condition is called Pulmonary Stenosis, which results in the blood from the right side of the heart being unable to flow normally to the lungs due to narrowing. Perhaps the most common canine condition of all CHD defects would be Aortic Stenosis, which occurs when blood from the left side of the heart cannot reach the rest of the body.
While CHD cannot be prevented, with due diligence and regular veterinary care, the condition can be detected earlier and possibly treated. CHD does not have to result in the death of the dog and some forms can be corrected through early medical intervention. You should never take any of the warning signs of CHD for granted and always make sure your pet has the best veterinary care possible.