Nav: Home

Researchers pioneer use of new method to treat life-threatening heart arrhythmias in dogs

December 10, 2018

Morris Animal Foundation-funded researchers have developed a new treatment for dogs with a rare, but life-threatening, arrhythmia caused by atrioventricular accessory pathways (APs). The minimally invasive technique, which uses radiofrequencies, is modified from a human cardiology procedure and has a more than 95 percent success rate in treating dogs with this type of arrhythmia.

The technique, radiofrequency catheter ablation (RFCA), was adapted by Dr. Kathy N. Wright and her colleagues at MedVet, a family of emergency and specialty veterinary hospitals around the United States. The team published their findings in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

"Accessory atrioventricular pathways are one of the more common causes of rapid heart rhythms in young dogs and we were pleased to prove they are curable with radiofrequency catheter ablation," said Dr. Wright. "The dogs can then go on to have their hearts recover and be off all heart drugs within a period of three months, and then go on to live normal lives."

APs are abnormal electrical circuits in the heart that can become activated and overcome the heart's normal current pathways, severely impairing its ability to pump. RFCA uses radiofrequencies to destroy those rogue circuits and allow the heart's normal function to resume.

"Dr. Wright's study demonstrated that radiofrequency catheter ablation is a safe and highly effective alternative to lifelong medications and repeated veterinary visits for dogs," said Dr. Kelly Diehl, Interim Vice President of Scientific Programs at Morris Animal Foundation. "Even better is that it's a long-term solution for a problem that can be fatal if left untreated."

In this study, the team used RFCA to treat 89 dogs with AP-related arrhythmia. While 23 breeds were represented, more than half of the patients were Labrador retrievers, as APs are more prevalent in that breed. The researchers threaded a catheter into each dog's heart and then delivered radio waves toward the APs.

Each dog was monitored with telemetry for at least 16 hours after the procedure and before they were discharged. Within two months, the dogs' heart activity was measured to determine the procedure's effectiveness. In all but three dogs, initial treatment with RFCA cured the arrhythmia. The remaining dogs were cured with a second treatment.

Once considered relatively harmless rhythm disturbances, APs are now known to cause rapid heart rhythms that can result in congestive heart failure or sudden death. Symptoms can include extreme fatigue and gastrointestinal distress, including lack of appetite and vomiting. These symptoms are similar to other common health problems in dogs, making the condition difficult to diagnose. It's not known how APs are created.
-end-
About Morris Animal Foundation

Morris Animal Foundation's mission is to bridge science and resources to advance the health of animals. Founded by a veterinarian in 1948, we fund and conduct critical health studies for the benefit of all animals. Learn more at morrisanimalfoundation.org.

Morris Animal Foundation

Related Dogs Articles:

Sensitivity to inequity is in wolves' and dogs' blood
Not only dogs but also wolves react to inequity -- similar to humans or primates.
Pet dogs could help older owners be more active
Owning a dog may help older adults to meet physical activity levels recommended by the World Health Organisation, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Public Health.
Dogs help in breast carcinoma research
Cancer of the mammary glands in dogs is very similar to human breast carcinoma.
Breathtaking gene discovery in Dalmatian dogs
University of Helsinki researchers have uncovered a novel gene associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome in dogs.
Dogs, toddlers show similarities in social intelligence
University of Arizona researcher Evan MacLean, director of the Arizona Canine Cognition Center, found that dogs and 2-year-old children show similar patterns in social intelligence, much more so than human children and one of their closest relatives: chimpanzees.
Using dogs to find cats
Investigators are using specially-trained detection dogs to determine the numbers and distribution of cheetah in a region of Western Zambia.
Significant epilepsy gene discovery in dogs
Researh groups from the University of Helsinki, the LMU Munich and the University of Guelph have described in collaboration a novel myoclonic epilepsy in dogs and identified its genetic cause.
Empathetic people experience dogs' expressions more strongly
A study by the University of Helsinki and Aalto University explored how empathy and other psychological factors affect people's assessments of the facial images of dogs and humans.
Dogs share food with other dogs even in complex situations
Dogs also share their food, albeit mainly with four-legged friends rather than strangers.
C-P.A.W.W. to study health effects that walking shelter dogs has on veterans and dogs
Veterans will walk shelter dogs in an intervention aimed at reducing stress levels and improving psychological outcomes.

Related Dogs Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...