A patent ductus arteriosus, or PDA, is considered the most common congenital heart defect in dogs. This defect occurs due to failure of the ductus arteriosus, a normal blood vessel present in the developing fetus, close to or just after birth. As a result, the ductus arteriosus remains open, or ‘patent.’ This results in significantly increased blood volume traveling between the main great vessels that exit the heart, the aorta, and the pulmonary artery. This ultimately causes increased blood flow through the lungs and back to the left side of the heart.
If uncorrected, this defect typically results in left-sided congestive heart failure within 12 - 18 months of age, with associated symptoms of labored breathing, coughing, and/or collapse. With appropriate recognition and intervention, however, most patients with a treated PDA live a normal lifespan.
Whenever your pet is showing signs of a health issue your first step is to contact your primary care veterinarian. If it is indicated that your pet may suffer from patent ductus arteriosus or another serious condition, a veterinary specialist is available at an ExpertVet certified or affiliated hospital.