What is Heart (Aortic) Blood Clot?
When a dog has a blood clot, or thrombus, in the aorta it is a very life-threatening condition. The blood clot is formed when the flow of blood is restricted by an obstruction in the vein or artery. Some of the clot may break apart and continue through the bloodstream where it then becomes an embolus and can become lodged in another narrow part of the bloodstream. When a blood vessel is blocked, it can be the result of a fatty substance that is built up over time, an air bubble, or bacteria being carried into the bloodstream. Blood clots, especially in the aortic section of the heart, must be treated immediately before a dire situation occurs. The aorta is the largest artery in the dog’s body and is vital in distributing healthy, oxygenated blood to many tissues and organs of the dog. When the oxygenated blood is not delivered, the dog’s kidneys, intestines, brain, and legs suffer the consequences. The dog’s health becomes in danger without immediate treatment. Thromboembolism is a disease of the cardiovascular system which is characterized by intravascular embolisms being formed. Aortic thromboembolism is specific; it is an aortic blood clot where a clot of blood lodges inside the aorta. This causes interruption of the blood flow to the many tissues that receive blood by that particular part of the aorta. Without oxygen from the blood, the tissues suffer, which leads to the dog’s suffering.
Heart (aortic) blood clot in dogs is a blood clot that forms in the largest artery of the dog’s body, resulting in a severe decrease of oxygenated blood flow.
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Symptoms of Heart (Aortic) Blood Clot in Dogs
Symptoms of this aortic blood clot can include:
- Leg pain
- Shortness of breath
- Overall fatigue
- Foot pads that are bluish in color
Dogs can develop blood clots not only in the heart, but in other parts of the body as well. A blood clot, no matter what part of the body, is very serious as it severely limits or even stops blood flow. Other types of blood clots include:
- Gastrointestinal tract
Causes of Heart (Aortic) Blood Clot in Dogs
There are several different causes of a blood clot forming in the aorta. Causes can include:
- Immune-mediated disorders
- Heartworm and heartworm treatment
- Renal disease, chronic
- Infectious diseases
- Catheter implants
- Deficiency in iron
- Sepsis, or infection in the bloodstream
Diagnosis of Heart (Aortic) Blood Clot in Dogs
If you see your dog behaving differently and suspect something is amiss, is important to make an appointment with your veterinarian. Once you take your dog to the veterinarian you will need to give your veterinarian a complete history of his health and will need to explain the symptoms and how long he has had them for. The veterinarian will begin by performing a complete physical examination, with a blood test, a biochemistry profile, and a urinalysis. The biochemistry profile may show some evidence of damage to the muscle if the creatinine kinase enzyme amounts are abnormally high. Another characteristic the veterinarian will be looking for is the level of aspartate aminotransferase (an enzyme) and alanine aminotransferase (another enzyme) in the blood.
There may also be high amounts of glucose in the bloodstream and possibly an increase in the blood urea nitrogen, as well as creatinine, as a result of a cardiac output that is too low. The dog may also have imbalances in his electrolytes. The veterinarian will order imaging for the chest to take a closer look at the heart and if any fluid has formed within the lungs in the cavity. Ultrasound technology will show the veterinarian if there is a clot, as well as the precise location of the clot. The ultrasound will also show an abnormally large heart, which is also characteristic of this disorder.
Treatment of Heart (Aortic) Blood Clot in Dogs
There are a few treatment options for this disorder, which in some dogs, maybe fatal. Your companion will need to be hospitalized in intensive care so he may be monitored very closely to prevent heart failure. Treatment methods include:
The dog will be given immediate oxygen therapy to help him with the breathing and to give him more oxygen for his blood.
There are medications that may help dissolve the blood clot known as thrombolytic medications. The dog will be on these medications throughout the hospital stay in the veterinarian will monitor the progress of the blood clot.
If the medications are not effective, then surgery is an option. Surgery requires the surgeon to go in and remove the blood clot. This is usually done in emergency situations and as a last resort. After surgery, your dog will be given painkillers to help with the pain of the surgery and healing.
Recovery of Heart (Aortic) Blood Clot in Dogs
An aortic blood clot can be life-threatening, and there are dogs that succumb to this condition. The prognosis can be anywhere from moderate to poor and every dog is different and every situation is unique. Some dogs respond to treatment better than others and it really depends on the severity of the blood clot, as well as the location of the blood clot. If you are able to bring your dog home from the hospital after the medication has helped, or after surgery, it is very important to listen to your veterinarian’s instructions on after-care. Dogs that are recovering from any heart procedure must be sure to rest, and responsible owners must give them support they need in terms of their medication and love. Your veterinarian will want to see the dog regularly to assess the condition and to see how the dog has healed. It is important to keep all appointments with the veterinarian, and if you see any changes in new symptoms or behaviors to contact the veterinarian immediately.