Freddie Needs Your Help to Heal His Broken Heart
Freddie, a 12-week-old Hound/Labrador Retriever mix, arrived recently at North Shore Animal League America’s Port Washington, New York campus on a Mobile Rescue Unit from a shelter partner in Tennessee. He looked just like the other puppies, but he was different…Freddie was lucky to be alive.
“As soon as we touched little Freddie, we could feel the vibrations in his chest,” said Dr. Verdino, Senior Vice President and Chief of Veterinary Staff. “He has a very, very substantial heart murmur—a grade of six and that’s as loud as it gets. We had a cardiologist do an echocardiogram and he was diagnosed with a Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA).”
The ductus arteriosus is a short blood vessel that connects the aorta and the pulmonary artery when a puppy is still in its mother’s womb. This vessel allows blood to bypass the lungs because the puppy is already receiving blood with oxygen from its mother. When a puppy is born, this vessel should close up within a few days.
“Freddie’s ductus arteriosus vessel is still open now and non-oxygenated blood is shooting through this vessel into the side of the vascular system that should be oxygenated,” said Dr. Verdino. “Normally puppies can tolerate this pretty well when they are very little, but as they grow it gets worse and worse. They will eventually go into left-sided heart failure.”
Freddie needs lifesaving surgery as soon as possible. The cardiologist said that the opening in the arteriosus vessel is still so large that he will need a surgeon to go into his chest and manually tie off the vessel to stop the blood flowing through it. For right now, he has been put on several cardiac medications to get his heart working a little bit better and more efficiently.
If the surgery is successful, the prognosis afterwards is very good and usually any changes seen in the heart will reverse. Right now, we have to keep a close eye on him because he can’t run and play like the other puppies as he won’t be able to breathe properly.