Atrial Fibrillation In Dogs (AF): Signs, Symptoms and Treatments

November 26, 2010 | Dog Health | Leave a Comment |

Atrial Fibrillation In Dogs is heart condition in which it affects the electrical impulses of the heart. In this case, the heart no longer has definite contractions. It will instead beat rapidly and randomly. Atrial Fibrillation in Dogs reduces heart function.

What Dogs are affected?

  • Larger breed dogs (e.g. Saint Bernard, Irish Wolfhound)
  • Dogs with thyroid problems and taking thyroid supplements
  • Dogs with previously diagnosed heart problems

AF can also happen to any dog, even if they do not fall into the above categories.

Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

The symptoms of this condition are often non-specific, but they are following can be observed:

  • Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Arrhythmia (Irregular Heart Beat)
  • Reduced Exercise Tolerance
  • Fluid Accumulation in Chest Area

How Is It Diagnosed?

  • Physical Examination
  • Study of Dog’s Medical History
  • Asucltation With a Stethoscope
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Chest Radiographs
  • Blood Tests
  • Kidney Function Tests
  • Thyroid function tests

A Heartworm Antigen may also be requested, but it only applies to certain geographic locations.

Treatment for Atrial Fibrillation in Dogs

Treating AF involves treating the underlying heart condition that is causing the electrical misfiring of the heart. The condition has to be managed medically.

  • Furosemide – A diuretic that is used to reduce congestion in Congestive Heart Failure (CHF).
  • Nitrate – Dilates the Blood Vessels
  • Oxygen – Administered when blood oxygen levels are low
  • Digoxin – Decreases heart rate and improves heart function
  • Thoracocentisis – A process where excess fluid in the chest is removed. This helps to relieve congestion in CHF.
  • Beta-blockers and Calcium Channel Blockers – Helps lower heart rate
  • Restriction of dietary sodium – Prevents blood vessel constriction

Lab tests after may be conducted after treatment, this helps to check progress.

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