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What is Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia?

The tricuspid valve is supposed to be a one-way valve that shuts tightly, so not to allow backflow.  If the valve is malformed it allows blood to flow backwards.  This disorder causes the heart to have to work much harder.  As the dysplasia continues the heart becomes enlarged. If left untreated, tricuspid valve dysplasia can be fatal.

Tricuspid valve dysplasia can be seen in any breed but it is more commonly diagnosed in large breeds such as German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Irish Setters, Old English Sheepdogs, and Great Danes.  Males dogs are more predisposed to TVD.

Tricuspid valve dysplasia is a very uncommon heart condition in dogs. The tricuspid valve regulates the flow of blood from the right atrium to the right ventricle.  The congenital malformation of the tricuspid valve can cause a backflow of blood (regurgitation) back into the right atrium.

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Symptoms of Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia in Dogs

Symptoms will depend on the severity of tricuspid valve dysplasia.  Mild cases of tricuspid valve dysplasia may not show any visual signs. 

  • Distended stomach due to fluid accumulation (ascites)
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Dyspnea due to lack of oxygen in the bloodstream
  • Heart murmur
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Weakness

Causes of Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia in Dogs

Tricuspid valve dysplasia (TVD) is an inherited congenital cardiac condition that causes abnormalities to the tricuspid valve.  This means that tricuspid valve dysplasia occurred during fetal development.   The dog is born with the heart condition.  Dogs diagnosed with tricuspid valve dysplasia should not be bred.

Diagnosis of Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia in Dogs

The initial veterinary examination may include taking the patient’s weight, temperature, blood pressure and pulse.  He may palpate the patient’s abdomen to check for fluid build up and to evaluate the muscle tone.  The veterinarian will also want to listen to your dog’s heart and lungs.  If the veterinarian hears a heart murmur (irregular sound in the heart) he may suggest a few diagnostic tests, such as an electrocardiogram, chest and abdominal x-rays, and an endocardiogram. These tests can help determine the cause of the irregular sound and the severity of the condition.  A heart murmur is usually an indication of a problem with the blood flow within the heart.

The EKG can detect abnormal heart rhythm due to the heart being enlarged.  Chest x-rays can visualize the shape of the heart and can determine if the lungs have fluid.  The abdominal x-rays can confirm ascites (fluid accumulation). The endocardiogram uses sound waves to check on the heart’s contractions and can determine how much cardio blood is being pumped.

Treatment of Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia in Dogs

If the patient has a large quantity of fluid in his abdomen the veterinarian may remove the fluid performing an abdominocentesis. Patients with tricuspid valve dysplasia will need to be on low salt diets.  Overweight dogs will have their diets charged, to encourage weight loss.  Extreme exertion should be avoided; limited moderate exercise will be permitted. Supplements and vitamins may be suggested such as Vitamin E, coenzyme CoQ10, and Omega 3. 

The veterinarian may prescribe digoxin, furosemide and an angiotensin enzyme inhibitor. Diuretics may help with fluid retention. Vasodilators drugs can help the heart have better blood flow. The treatment plan may improve the patient’s quality of life.  Patients that are not responding to the treatment plan may be referred to a cardiac veterinarian specialist.  Surgery may be recommended to replace the valve, if the dog is strong enough to undergo the procedure. Replacement of the tricuspid valve is a high risk surgery.

Recovery of Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia in Dogs

The treatment plan for tricuspid valve dysplasia will be a lifetime commitment.  Follow-up visits will be needed to monitor the patient’s progress. The veterinarian may want an electrocardiogram, x-rays and an endocardiogram to be repeated every few months. The removal of the abdominal fluids will need to be done periodically.  Medication side effects must be monitored.  Treatment of tricuspid valve dysplasia does not cure the condition; it makes the dog more comfortable. Dogs that are not responding to the treatment plan and for whom surgery is not an option may need to be humanely euthanized.  Patients that underwent surgery will have post-operative instruction provided once the dog is released from the hospital.

Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Ziggy
Saluki
24 Months
Serious condition
1 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

none

We have a 2yo saluki collie cross who's currently not showing any symptoms, however has severely enlarged upper and lower chambers of the right heart due to tricuspid dysplacia. We understand tricuspid valve replacement is high-risk and probably not worthwhile as long as he is symptom-free, but wondering if it could still be an option once he develops heart failure?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. I am not a cardiologist, but it would seem to me that once he goes ito heart failure, valve replacement may be a fruitless option. Since he does have a fairly specific and complicated heart condition, it would be a good idea to follow you with your cardiologist, to get more information on the risks of surgery, the expected prognosis for him, and whether there are any other options. I hope that everything goes well for him.

Thank you, Dr. King. Just adding a follow up note in case it's helpful to others. We are based in the UK and took Ziggy to the RVC, which is an excellent University Veterinary Hospital, and they do perform valve repair surgeries. However, due to the risks of open heart surgery, they only recommend this option once a dog has developed heart failure. It's been really reassuring to learn that there are options.

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Ellie
Goldendoodle
1 Year
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Heart Murmur

Medication Used

Vetmedin
Vetmedin Enalapril

Hi. My one year old Goldendoodle was diagnosed by a cardiology specialist a month ago with Tricuspid valve dysplasia. The only visible symptom is a heart murmur grade 4. The murmur wasn’t detected until her 1 year checkup. It wasn’t noticed or not there when she was spayed at 8 months either. She acts like a normal puppy and as of now has no idea anything is wrong. An x ray showed enlarged right side of heart. No fluid buildup to indicate CHF. Would you suggest a 2nd opinion on this mainly because of how rare this disease is besides in Labrador Retrievers. She takes Vetmedin and Enalapril twice a day.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
It is always best to get a second opinion if you are having doubts so you can ease your mind or be confident that the diagnosis is correct; you can also discuss treatment and management options when you visit for a second opinion so that you know the right course of action is being taken. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Sky
Border Collie
10 Months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Is the tricuspid valve replacement widely performed in US. what is the prognosis? and how much can the surgery costs? he has a heart murmur 6/6 at 7 weeks and according to last cardio consult done 1n 12/12/17 was 5/6

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Tricuspid valve replacement in dogs is not as successful as in humans with the procedure normally performed in a University Veterinary Hospital; as far as any cost is concerned, I have no information on any cost but I would recommend you consult with a University Hospital to discuss Sky’s condition and to see if there are any other management options available for her. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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