The Lhasa Apso is a small longhaired dog from the Kennel Club’s utility grouping, and is a versatile and amenable choice of dog for people from all walks of life. Lhasa Apsos have beautiful long flowing coats that require a significant amount of care and grooming, and they are loving, personable and generally considered to be adaptive and amenable to training and learning new skills.
Originating from the mountains of Tibet, the recorded history of the Lhasa Apso is a long one, and the breed is popular today all over the world, including within the UK. The Lhasa Apso is the UK’s 29th most popular dog breed overall, and they are in great demand with puppy buyers.
There’s a lot to recommend the Lhasa Apso as a pet and companion, for both experienced dog owners and first-timers alike. However, like virtually all pedigree dog breeds, there are a few hereditary health problems that can affect dogs of the breed, which can be passed on from parent dogs to their litters.
One of these is called patent ductus arteriosus or PDA, and this is a congenital heart defect that results in the ductus arteriosus (a vital blood vessel that connects the main pulmonary vein to the proximal descending aorta) failing to close up as it should after birth.
This is a potentially acute and serious health condition that can lead to heart failure and death in affected pups, and so patent ductus arteriosus is one health condition that all prospective Lhasa Apso puppy buyers should learn a little about before they start looking around for the perfect pup.
In this article we will look at patent ductus arteriosus in the Lhasa Apso in more detail, to provide a basic grounding in the condition and what it means. Read on to learn more.
The ductus arteriosus in a blood vessel within the dog’s heart, which connects the aorta to the pulmonary artery as part of the process of blood circulation and oxygenation. Before a puppy is born, most of the blood that their heart pumps is circulated via the ductus arteriosus, bypassing the lungs as the pups’ bodies are oxygenated in utero by their umbilical supply.
When the pup is born and the umbilical cord is cut, terminating this circulatory connection, blood no longer needs to flow through the ductus arteriosus, and in normal, healthy pups, the ductus shrivels up and closes itself off entirely within a day or two of birth.
However, in pups with patent ductus arteriosus, the ductus arteriosus doesn’t close up as it should after birth, which results in blood being recirculated unnecessarily through the heart, placing it under a heavier strain than it should carry.
This in turn can lead to heart failure if left unchecked, although patent ductus arteriosus can vary a lot in terms of its severity, so this is not always the case.
Female pups are three times more prone to patent ductus arteriosus than males, although Lhasa Apsos of both sexes are at potential risk of the condition.
It is really important that new litters of pups are examined by the vet within a few days of birth, and this examination can potentially pick up on the signature heart sounds that indicate the presence of patent ductus arteriosus. However, this is not always the case, and so a formal diagnosis may not occur until later check ups when the pup is older.
Generally, the signature sounds of a heart murmur will be present in pups with the condition, which your vet can identify with a stethoscope. When your vet hears this, they will need to run some more tests to confirm the root cause of the problem. This may involve a chest x-ray and potentially an echocardiogram, which can identify the presence of patent ductus arteriosus itself and if relevant, if the condition is having a wider impact on the pup’s lungs and the rest of their heart too.
This information helps your vet to build up a complete picture of the problem and how it affects your dog, and this is important in order to establish what happens next.
The preferred treatment method for patent ductus arteriosus in Lhasa Apsos is surgery, in order to close the duct’s opening and correct the route of blood flow through the heart. Ideally surgery is performed while the pup is still young, and assuming that this is successful, most pups will go on to make a full recovery and lead a normal life.
Not all dogs with patent ductus arteriosus will require surgery; around 2% of all presentations don’t come accompanied by a murmur and so, are not hugely harmful or risky for the dog.
However, for dogs that do require surgery, this is usually the only way to correct the defect and allow the dog to live a full, happy life.
Because patent ductus arteriosus is a hereditary health condition, dogs that have the condition should not be bred from, even if their case was able to be corrected surgically. Prospective Lhasa Apso puppy buyers are advised to ask lots of questions of the breeder that they are considering buying from before committing to a purchase, to give themselves the best possible chance of choosing a healthy puppy.