You would be forgiven for thinking that Sick Sinus Syndrome affects a dog's respiratory system, but in truth the disorder negatively impacts a dog's heart function and is a very serious condition that Pomeranians are known to suffer from. The disorder causes an abnormal heart rhythm and although nobody knows why a dog develops the disease, there are very specific signs they could be suffering from sick sinus syndrome which means they need to be seen by a vet sooner rather than later.
As previously mentioned, when dogs develop sick sinus syndrome, their hearts are negatively impacted and why some Pomeranians as well as other dogs develop the condition remains unknown. The disorder affects the parts of the heart responsible for generating electrical impulses which are called sinuses. Because they are unable to function normally, a dog's heart is unable to keep a normal rhythm and as a result, their heart rate may be affected too which puts them in real danger.
Some dogs only suffer mild forms of the condition whereas others might develop a much more serious form of sick sinus syndrome which results in catastrophic heart failure. The reason being that vital blood is not being pumped through the heart. When a Pomeranian is diagnosed as having the more severe form of the disorder, it can be categorised in two types of abnormal heart rhythms with the first being dogs that have rhythms that are slow to fast which is referred to as bradycardia-tachycardia. The second is when the rhythm is slow, but occasionally stops altogether which is referred to as bradycardia and sinus arrest.
Apart from affecting Pomeranians, other breeds that have been identified as suffering from the condition include the following:
The symptoms associated with sick sinus syndrome include the following:
When a Pomeranian is diagnosed as suffering from a mild form of sick sinus syndrome, the vet would be able to recommend prescribing specific drugs, but in cases where the disorder is symptomatic, the only real treatment available is to have a dog fitted with a pacemaker which can be a very expensive surgery.
A vet would ideally need to have a dog's full medical history and would need to carry out specific tests to confirm a diagnosis which would include an ECG and a heart ultrasound which would help rule out any other underlying health issue or cardiac disease. The vet would typically suggest giving a dog some form of medication with the end goal being to speed up a dog's heart which would need to be done in a controlled environment.
You may find that your vet refers your dog to a veterinary cardiologist who would be in a better position when it comes to diagnosing the problem and then treating a dog when they suffer from the condition. It is worth noting that not all dogs are deemed candidates for any sort of treatment and that some Poms don’t need any form of treatment because their condition is mild. However, when a dog has been diagnosed as suffering from sick sinus syndrome, care should always be taken not to give them too much strenuous exercise and to avoid any stressful situations.
Because the cause of the disorder is unknown and why some Poms suffer from the condition whereas others do not, it is not known how or why sick sinus syndrome is inherited and there are not genetic tests available either. As such, any Pomeranians suffering from sick sinus syndrome should never be used for breeding purposes.