Inherited Heart Issues - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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Old 11-09-2016, 09:12 PM Thread Starter
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Inherited Heart Issues

Does anyone know about the genetics of inherited (or not inherited) dilated cardiomyopathy?

I am especially curious about this condition affecting young, healthy-looking dogs with sudden death. Is this a condition seen in the GSD? Is it common to certain lines of GSD?

I know I am probably grasping at straws, but I am hoping some of the breeders might know about this condition and chime in. Or anyone else who has seen this condition in their dogs.

Any information would be useful. Thanks!
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Old 11-09-2016, 09:55 PM
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I had a Border Collie, Ben, with it years ago. He was put on meds and I lost him at six years old. I'm afraid I can't tell you much about it though. I did find this:
Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
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Old 11-09-2016, 10:04 PM
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I work for a veterinary cardiologist. Can't see we see this frequently(I have never) in a young GSD.

Can't speak to lineage that would carry this.

Is your dog affected? Have you been to a cardiologist?
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Old 11-09-2016, 10:22 PM Thread Starter
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The reason I'm looking into it is I lost a young dog to either a freak accident (she ran into a tree and broke her neck) or something like a heart issue or random stroke or some sudden but never detected ailment along those lines. I did not see it actually happen, I did not see her hit a tree or drop, but was there immediately after. I have not done a necropsy yet, but heart issues may be present in the grand-sire's lines. I am curious what kind of heart issue might cause sudden death (if any) in an otherwise completely healthy young dog.

Trying to find some closure, and I have three related dogs, who seem healthy, but if this is genetic, it would be important to know. I know freak accidents happen. And that could be it. But again, if it could be genetic, I will do more testing on my related dogs.
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Old 11-09-2016, 10:33 PM
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Aahhh ok. I actually remember your thread about that. So sorry.

Do you know what kind of heart issues are in the line? Again, DCM is not a common disease in GSD. But DCM can cause an arrhythmia that can cause sudden death, but it's in a later stage of the disease process. And generally you would have seen signs before hand. Weakness on occasion, stumbling. Though they can cone on and happen quickly as well. I have seen a young Great Dane die from this suddenly, he was 10 months old.

However a pulmonic or subaortic stenosis can cause sudden death in young dogs. I would have expected a murmur to be heard on physical exam though. Both of those are more common in young GSD than early onset DCM.

I would be curious to know what runs in his lines.

I know it's hard to think about, but a necropsy will tell you what happened and help you move forward.
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Old 11-10-2016, 11:34 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you. I still have that option and am considering it. I think when a young dog drops, sometimes people never know.
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Old 11-10-2016, 12:01 PM
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Thank you. I still have that option and am considering it. I think when a young dog drops, sometimes people never know.

If you know there are some health concerns in dogs in your dogs lines, and you have others from those lines, I think, personally, I would do a necropsy just to be sure. I'm so sorry you're going through this.
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Old 11-10-2016, 12:27 PM Thread Starter
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It could have been trauma, she was fast and it was dark and she might have slipped on the leaves and hit a tree. Nothing is going to replace her, but knowing why, would help. I never saw any sign of heart issues in her and she ran often, fast and far.

An 18 year old mountain runner I knew simply dropped of a heart condition during a race (Knoya Ridge). That was just horrible. And there was a marathoner at the Olympic trials who just dropped dead, suddenly. He was an elite (human) athlete with presumably better and more health testing than most dogs ever see. One of my friends dropped from a heart condition in a high school race and only survived because paramedics were right there with a defibrillator (that was electrical heart issues). And another runner friend needed heart surgery - he didn't die but it was very serious. So, when I think of it, I do actually know or know of a few people who have died of a heart condition that was never detected prior.

I believe I read an article saying there was actually a risk to being highly athletic (humans), in that a congenital heart condition that may never have caused an issue, will crop up when you participate in athletic training that strengthens and uses the heart. Maybe the same is true in dogs.
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Old 11-10-2016, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Muskeg View Post
It could have been trauma, she was fast and it was dark and she might have slipped on the leaves and hit a tree. Nothing is going to replace her, but knowing why, would help. I never saw any sign of heart issues in her and she ran often, fast and far.

An 18 year old mountain runner I knew simply dropped of a heart condition during a race (Knoya Ridge). That was just horrible. And there was a marathoner at the Olympic trials who just dropped dead, suddenly. He was an elite (human) athlete with presumably better and more health testing than most dogs ever see. One of my friends dropped from a heart condition in a high school race and only survived because paramedics were right there with a defibrillator (that was electrical heart issues). And another runner friend needed heart surgery - he didn't die but it was very serious. So, when I think of it, I do actually know or know of a few people who have died of a heart condition that was never detected prior.

I believe I read an article saying there was actually a risk to being highly athletic (humans), in that a congenital heart condition that may never have caused an issue, will crop up when you participate in athletic training that strengthens and uses the heart. Maybe the same is true in dogs.
I have nothing to offer, but so sorry to hear about your dog. What a tragedy. May she rest in peace and I am sending healing thoughts your way.
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Old 11-10-2016, 02:02 PM
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So very sorry Muskeg.What a shock.

Terri

Samson Blk/Slvr GSD. RN
Misty Husky Mix
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