For many years I have had the hearts on my dogs checked by our vet. They are checked when they have their first rabies shot at 4 months and then again when they get their second one at 16 months. Once again when they are OFA certified at 2. At any sign of a murmur those dogs were taken to a local cardiologist.
About 3 years ago, Pam Perdue, discovered one of her bitches had Sub Aortic Stenosis. When asking around she was told other people in this breed had had this problem before and it was not uncommon. Because of this finding we started taking dogs to Heart Clinics with the local Cardiologist when it was convenient. These Clinics were few and far between so I talked to the local Cardiologist and he offered to come to the kennel and do the whole kennel for $1000. That seemed like a good offer since we had 50 dogs to check so I started saving for this to be done. A few months later I called to schedule the appointment and he had died.
In the meantime, my vet in whom I have great faith bought an extra strong stethoscope. When calling around to get prices on checking the whole kennel from other cardiologists I could not find one that was willing to come to the house much less that would charge a price reasonable enough to enable me to get all the dogs checked. I talked to my vet and she agreed to do the checking instead. She said she could not tell me what was causing a murmur but could find one and then I could make other arrangements to have the dogs checked if they had a murmur.
In the last year she checked my whole kennel and found 3 bitches with murmurs. I took two of them down to the vet school in Raleigh, NC to be checked and was told they had S.A.S. They also told me the murmurs were much louder than my vet had detected.
Worried that she might have missed someone else I called OFA and got a list of all the cardiologists that were within a 4-hour drive. I called them and found 2 that were willing to come to the house and check the whole kennel for $30 a dog. They did that on April 5th, 2003. We checked 43 dogs. That was the amount that was over a year in our kennel. Two of them had been checked by a cardiologist 2 years previously and cardiac cleared. One of those had a murmur, which upon getting a Doppler a few weeks later turned out to be SAS. Of the 43 checked 28 had heart murmurs. My vet had checked 20 of those and not found any murmurs.
So far I have had 11 dopplered and three were cleared of having Heart Disease with the Doppler. Of the others 7 had SAS and one a defective Mitral Valve which is also hereditary. The good news, on the ones having SAS, is they have such a mild version it won't kill them so they can be spayed/neutered. The other good news is that most of them had never been bred. The bad news is they cannot be bred without passing it. I will probably check another 9 of the other 18 with murmurs. So far I have placed quite a few spayed/neutered.
When I took the first 7 in I took in 3 that were equivocal, 2 that were abnormal 1-2 murmurs, and 2 that were grade 3 murmurs. Only one of the grade 3 murmurs ended up clear and was downgraded to a grade 2 murmur. On checking with dopplers recently another grade 3/6 murmur cleared of heart disease.
The way this has been explained to me is if they have SAS and you breed them to a clear dog at least 50% of the pups will be affected. If you breed 2 that have SAS together it doubles in strength and you will get pups that will die early in life.
(Do note that, since environment can affect, even though both parents are clear, SAS can exist. Also since SAS is passed similarly to Hip Dysplasia, multigene, it can skip so both parents can be clear and throw and affected pup.
To prevent any more harm from this disease I have taken the following steps. All older pups with affected parents were given away spayed/neutered unless they were cleared. No puppies will be sold breedable from Storytime Kennel until I know a Cardiologist has cleared both parents. Once I know I am breeding clear to clear all breedable pups will be co-owned until they pass their hip and heart tests.
All people that have bought breedable dogs from us in the past 8 years have been sent a letter and asked to have their dogs tested if they are using them for breeding. If they find this I have asked them to then notify any puppy buyers that were sold breedable dogs.
If anyone has any more suggestions on how to contain and eradicate this problem please email me and let me know.
I have set up this site with information on Heart Disease and links to breeders who are testing with a cardiologist. Please be aware that while some of these dogs are clear of heart disease they may not be clear of other problems such as hip dysplasia. I have a numerical and alphabetical list for both of these tests on this site so please check both before breeding and do both tests on your dog also and make sure they are clear of both. There is another problem coming up in our breed called Ataxia that I think we all need to be aware of. I am posting information on this also. Waiting until your breeding stock is 4 or 5 years of age to breed it would probably rule out this problem. They suggest you recheck hearts at this age also as very mild forms of SAS can show up much later than one. One of the dogs we had was cleared at 4 and tested positive at 6.
If we all work together we should be able to get rid of most of these problems in our breed.
FOR THOSE OF YOU THAT HAVE BOUGHT BREEDABLE DOGS FROM US PLEASE READ THIS!!!
ALL DOGS THAT ARE OUT OF DOGS I KNOW HAVE HEART DISEASE WILL BE LISTED UNTIL YOU SEND ME PROOF THEY HAVE CARDIAC CLEARED BY A CARDIOLOGIST.
FOR THOSE OF YOU THAT HAVE GOTTEN YOUR OFA NUMBERS BY A CARDIOLOGIST I WILL BE GIVING YOU A DIRECT LINK FROM THEIR NAME ON THE OFA CARDIOLOGY LIST TO YOUR SITE. IF THEY DOPPLERED CLEAR AND YOU ARE WILLING TO POST THE DOPPLER REPORT YOU CAN ALSO BE ON A LIST AND HAVE A LINK. YOU MUST POST A PEDIGREE WITH EACH DOG.
PLEASE EMAIL ME AT:
© 1997 firstname.lastname@example.org
with the information for the links.