Cardiac Disease Screening


Depending on the condition your breed is predisposed to, you may clear by auscultation or echocardiogram; some breeds also require either an EKG or a 24-Holter monitor. The echocardiogram is considered the most definitive method of screening for structurally problems. All animals should be atleast 6 months of age to screen and 1 year or older for OFA purposes. Ideally, we recommend all animals be a minimum of 1 year of age for screening purposes. See below for guidance as to what method your animal should be screened with.

ARVC (Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy)

Boxer ARVC is an adult onset heart muscle disease that can lead to sudden death or the development of congestive heart failure. This is an inherited disease and the average age of development of clinical signs is 6 years. However, onset can vary greatly.

Boxers should have a 24 Holter monitor performed annually beginning at 3 years of age. A single normal holter reading does not mean your dog is not going to develop ARVC; only that s/he does not have it at this time.

Breed: Boxer

DCM (Dilated Cardiomyopathy)

Afghan Hounds
Doberman Pinschers
Great Danes
Great Pyrenees
Irish Wolfhounds
Scottish Deerhounds
Cocker Spaniels
English Cocker Spaniels

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Breeds: American Shorthairs, Maine Coons, Norwegian Forest Cat, Ragdolls, and Sphynx.

Mitral Valve Disease

Mitral valve disease is a condition whereby the mitral valve thickens and degrades overtime. A leak in the valve also develops as the valve can no longer close properly. While this is a common older age disease, there are certain breeds which are predisposed to developing it at a higher rate and younger age.

Breeds predisposed to mitral valve disease are typically screened by auscultation and should be ausculted at least annually if not every 6 months.

Breeds: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahuas, and Norfolk Terrier.

SAS (Sub Aortic Stenosis)

Subaortic stenosis (SAS) refers to a narrowing of the area below the aortic valve due to an abnormal fibrous band of tissue. This fibrous band can be present at birth or develop over the first year of life. SAS ranges in severity from mild, moderate to severe. For more information, go to Cardiac Disease Reference

Breeds predisposed to SAS should be screened by echocardiogram. Because the lesion reaches its full severity by 2 years of age it is advised to have an echocardiogram done at 18-24 months of age.

Breeds: Bernese Mountain Dog, Boxer, Bouvier, Bull Terrier, Bulldogs, German Shepherd Dog, German Shorthaired Pointer, Great Dane, Golden Retriever, Newfoundland, Samoyeds, and Rottweiler.

Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia

The valve consists of 3 irregular shaped flaps. During fetal development these flaps are attached to the septum. As the fetus matures these bonds, which hold the flaps open, degrade leading to a functioning valve which closes tightly when the right ventricle contracts. Failure of these bonds to degrade commonly causes tricuspid valve dysplasia to occur.

Breeds predisposed to this should be screened by echocardiogram.

Breeds: Borzoi, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Labrador Retriever, and Weimaraner.