SubAortic Stenosis (SAS)


Larger dogs, including but certainly not limited to Golden Retrievers, tend to have a high incidence of an abnormal heart sound, or murmur, caused by Subaortic stenosis (SAS). When you use an ordinary garden hose (without a nozzle) the water flows out quietly; when you cover part of the hose with your finger, it causes a disruption of the water flow and a lot of noise. If the heart is working normally, there are few sounds (except the pumping sound) but if something causes a disruption of the blood flow, a murmur occurs. A narrowing of the heart, a stenosis, just below the aortic valve, results in an abnormal sound, the murmur. SAS is the second most common congenital heart defect in the dog, and the Rottweiler has a higher occurrence than most other breeds. It is a clue to a veterinarian that there is something wrong. This condition is heritable and should be addressed, with the following information in mind. Heart murmurs are graded on a scale of 1 to 6, with one being very mild and six being very serious Murmurs can exist due to a large number of heart problems ( infection, trauma, anemia, etc.) and some murmurs are innocent, meaning that no cardiac pathology exists. Mild heart murmurs in puppies less than 20 weeks of age are to be noted only and are not an immediate cause for concern. Some of these will be innocent, some may be a result of a minor problem, and some of these can and do disappear with age. A serious murmur in a young pup is definitely significant and a murmur which persists past 20 weeks of age should then become a cause for concern. The health status of the puppy and the advice of the veterinarian may warrant investigative procedures in order to give a prognosis. Auscultation of the heart (with a stethescope) in an adult dog over the correct area of the chest could lead to a presumptive diagnosis of SAS, if a murmur were present. The problem with SAS is that a dog can be a carrier and never be diagnosed even with the current available veterinary techniques.

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