East Lincoln Animal Hospital

7555 Highway 73 East
Denver, NC 28037



"Shada" - PDA - Case of the month

Shada is now an eleven month old Newfoundland puppy who was born with a congenital heart defect called a Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA). PDA is the abnormal existence in an adult animal of a normal fetal structure. A PDA is a connection between the aorta and the pulmonary artery that is present when the puppy is in the uterus. This connection in the puppy shunts blood around the nonfunctional pulmonary (lung) circulation by connecting the pulmonary artery to the aorta. This connection usually closes when the puppy is born. When this connection does not close, it is called a Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA). It is one of the most common congenital heart defects in dogs.

Without treatment 2/3 of affected puppies will die before reaching an age of one year.

Shada did not have any signs of heart disease when this was discovered. She had a heart murmur that was picked up when she had a physical examination at 6 weeks of age. Her heart murmur was the characteristic heart murmur of a PDA. She had a continuous machinery type murmur (sounds like wind blowing through a tunnel) that could even be felt when you placed your hand on her chest. Since a ductus should close soon after birth, it is abnormal to hear a murmur of this type in a pup older than 1-2 weeks of age.

If untreated, A PDA can cause symptoms such as a cough, decreased exercise tolerance, poor growth, failure to thrive, and fluid back up in the lungs (pulmonary edema). Heart failure can develop as well as arrythmias and ultimately, death.

Shada needed surgery to ligate the ductus so that her circulation would be restored back to normal. In her current state, her lungs were being overcirculated and the left side of her heart would weaken and enlarge since it was pumping a unusually large volume of blood.  Click here to read more about PDA and see diagrams of the abnormal circulation.

Shada had chest x-rays taken which helped to confirm the diagnosis. She had the characteristic enlargement of the aorta (ductal aneurysm) and enlargement of the left side of the heart where the extra blood volume is contained.

Shada's owner had 10 other puppies at home. She could not afford the recommended ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis and then the cost of surgery performed by a cardiologist. She had recently had another dog who had required an ultrasound and her budget was tapped. She was considering euthanasia when she asked if we would be willing to attempt the surgery. She knew that it was a difficult surgery and that we had never performed this surgery before. We discussed the possible complications and risks (infection, the possibility that the ductus could not be ligated, death, and the possibility that another defect might be present since no ultrasound examination had been performed) and scheduled her surgery.

 Shada had her surgery when she was 16 weeks old. Her ductus was successfully ligated and she had no complications after her surgery. In fact, she was bouncing around only 2 days after her procedure. It was hard to keep her quiet. Not long after her procedure, she went to her new home on a farm in Virginia.

Shada is the case of the month because:
1) She was a sweetie the whole time she was in the hospital and captured everyone's hearts with her soulful sagging eyes!
2) She came through her surgery with stamina and strength. She can live a full normal life now.

 Shada in a recent photo - almost all grown up!

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Here is another pup, Pumpkin, who was born with a PDA. She had surgery at ELAH to correct the defect and recovered with flying colors! Here she is with her proud owners.