Inherited Sudden Cardiac Death

Ventricular arrhythmia is one of the most common cardiac arrhythmias seen in dogs. In most cases there is either a structural abnormality within the heart such as the change in cardiac muscle structure which occurs in cardiomyopathy, or there is a systemic problem affecting the heart's performance.

The irregular rhythm is usually detected during routine physical examination in young dogs from four to twelve months of age. Most dogs are outwardly normal before they die suddenly and there is usually no history of exercise intolerance or feinting. Death most often occurs between the age of four to eight months, and often during sleep or a resting period after exercise.

In North America, a syndrome of inherited sudden cardiac arrest and death has been reported to occur in German Shepherd Dogs. Genetic inheritance has been confirmed but the precise mechanism has not.


Note: This section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website is intended as a source of information only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional care. Always consult with your Veterinarian about health related matters.