How to Treat a Dog with Pericardia Disease


Look for pericardial disease symptoms in your canine. Dogs who suffer from pericardia disease may lose their appetite, have pale gums and become unexpectedly weak with shortness of breath. Write down the symptoms you observe in your canine and contact the vet for an exam.

Treatment varies on the type and severity of pericardial disease. Treatments may include the following:

  • For most cases of peritoneo pericardial diaphragmatic hernia, no treatment is necessary since most dogs are clinically unaffected. If a dog with a hernia of this type becomes ill and has difficulty breathing, surgery must be performed to repair the hernia.

  • The treatment for pericardial effusion involves removal of the fluid and treatment of the underlying cause. Once a significant amount of fluid is removed with a catheter or needle, additional therapy can be administered. Sometimes, repeated removal of fluid may be needed.
  • Medical therapy for treatment of pericardial effusion is not commonly recommended. If an affected dog has collapsed with profoundly low blood pressure, intravenous fluids may be indicated for resuscitation. Furosemide or other medications designed to reduce fluid accumulation in the pericardium have not been shown to be effective.
  • Surgery may be necessary for successful management of pericardial disease. Removal of the pericardial sac may be needed in recurrent hemorrhagic effusion of unknown cause, especially in younger dogs. The treatment for infective pericardial disease involves catheter drainage of the pericardium, subsequent surgical removal and drainage of the pericardial space (to prevent constriction), and specific antibiotic therapy based on culture.
  • Surgery is also indicated if constrictive pericardial disease is diagnosed or highly suspected. If a tumor is suspected but not confirmed on ultrasound, surgery may be needed to determine whether the tumor is present and, if present, to facilitate its removal. In some cases of hemorrhagic pericardial effusion caused by tumors, a small window may be cut into the pericardium to allow the blood to leak out of the sac and into the chest cavity, where it can be absorbed.
  • After treatment, affected dogs should be closely monitored for up to a year. Repeated X-rays and ultrasound should be performed at intervals to monitor the response to therapy and to check for recurrence/deterioration. Repeated blood work is recommended if initial results revealed abnormalities. Dogs with pericardial disease can deteriorate rapidly. In particular, dogs with pericardial disease caused by tumors often succumb to the disease process shortly after diagnosis.
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About the Author: Fred Goodson has a passion for pets and animals. He has 4 dogs and is planning to have another one. He is also a blogger who writes about pets and animals. Currently, he is living in New Jersey.

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