Heart Sac Inflammation (Pericarditis) in Dogs


What is Heart Sac Inflammation (Pericarditis)?

The pericardium is the external sac that surrounds the heart. It is comprised of 2 layers: the fragile inner membrane called the visceral pericardium, or epicardium, and the more fibrous external layer called the parietal pericardium. There is a little area in between these 2 layers that is filled with about 0.2-0.3 milliliters of fluid for each kg of your canine’s weight. The precise function of the pericardium is unidentified, however it might assist to secure the heart and keep its regular positioning in the thorax. Inflammation of the pericardium, called pericarditis, triggers fluid to build up in the pericardial sac (pericardial effusion). Excess fluid increases pressure within the pericardium. If outdoors pressure ends up being higher than the regular pressure within the heart, a hazardous condition called heart tamponade can develop. With heart tamponade, the increased pressure makes it challenging for the heart to agreement, and cardiac arrest can occur rapidly. Pericardiectomy, surgical elimination of the whole pericardium, can be alleviative depending upon the condition that is triggering the issue. Main idiopathic pericardial effusion is the most typical reason for pericarditis in dogs, accountable for about 20-70% of cases. With main pericarditis, the inflammation of the pericardial sac and subsequent pleural effusion does not appear to have a cause. Other kinds of pericarditis can be triggered by fungal or bacterial infection, however this is unusual in dogs. Heart conditions that trigger pericardial illness through fluid build-up have comparable signs to inflammatory pericarditis. Of these, cancer is the most typical in dogs, representing 70-80% of the cases of heart tamponade from extreme pericardial effusion. Some acquired problems, tearing or injury to the mitral valve on the left side of the heart, and hardly ever heart disease can likewise be accountable for pericardial illness These conditions are equivalent symptomatically from inflammatory pericarditis given that they all trigger pericardial effusion.

Inflammation of the heart sac, the pericardium, triggers fluid to build up in between the inner and external layers. In dogs, this is called pericarditis. If the pressure inside the pericardium ends up being higher than the pressure inside the heart, this can be extremely hazardous.

Signs of Heart Sac Inflammation (Pericarditis) in Dogs

  • Muffled heart noises
  • Stomach distension (ascites)
  • Extending jugular veins
  • Sleepiness
  • Weak Point
  • Weight-loss
  • Workout intolerance
  • Fainting (syncope)
  • Throwing Up
  • Weak pulse
  • Fast breathing
  • Paleness
  • Cold extremities


These are the various kinds of pericardial illness

  • Pericarditis (inflammation of the pericardium triggers pericardial effusion)
  • Main pericarditis (idiopathic)
  • Contagious pericarditis (triggered by a bacterial or fungal infection)
  • Other kinds of pericardial illness (pericardial effusion is secondary to another heart disease, like cancer)
  • Severe (heart tamponade is the most extreme type of pericardial illness in which compression from fluid build-up makes it challenging to the heart muscles to agreement)

Reasons For Heart Sac Inflammation (Pericarditis) in Dogs

These are the primary reasons for pericarditis in dogs.

  • Idiopathic hemorrhagic pericardial effusion (more typical in big dogs)
  • Contagious pericarditis (bacterial or fungal infection such as tuberculosis, Coccidioidomycosis, actinomycosis, nocardiosis, Pasteurella types, infection continued a foreign body such as a porcupine quill or yard awn)
  • Constrictive pericarditis (unusual thickening of the pericardial sac)

Other heart disease might trigger non-inflammatory pericardial illness.

  • Malignant neoplasia in the heart (specifically hemangiosarcoma or aortic body growths) 
  • Peritoneopericardial diaphragmatic hernia (PPDH – an acquired condition in the stomach organs can trigger herniation into the pericardial sac, more typical in Weimaraner)
  • Tearing or injury to the mitral valve
  • Heart disease (unusual in dogs)

Medical Diagnosis of Heart Sac Inflammation (Pericarditis) in Dogs

The vet will physically analyze your canine and listen to his heart. The heart beat will normally sound smothered through a stethoscope if pericardial effusion exists. Breathing noises can be challenging to hear likewise, although the breathing rate is increased. Other signs, normal of right-side heart disease, will assist to verify the existence of pericardial effusion. Other diagnostic tests will be required for a conclusive medical diagnosis. Chest x rays might reveal an unusual heart shape with pericardial effusion, however echocardiography, an ultrasound of the heart, is normally a much better tool for determining the source of the issue. Lots of illness that are cause pericardial illness can be identified in this way, consisting of malignant growths, hereditary heart problems, and valve degeneration.  A medical diagnosis of idiopathic pericarditis is normally made by removing all the other elements which might trigger pericardial effusion, while transmittable pericarditis is recognized by analyzing a fluid sample from the heart with cytology and looking for the existence of germs or fungis. Constrictive pericarditis is not typical and it can be challenging to identify. Determining the pressure on both sides of the heart is the most trusted approach.

Treatment of Heart Sac Inflammation (Pericarditis) in Dogs

Heart tamponade is a really severe condition that will require instant encouraging treatment. Pericardiocentesis, insertion of a tube to syphon off the fluid, might be required conserve your canine’s life as constant raised intrapericardial pressure can be deadly after just 5 minutes. If your canine is on diuretic medication for heart disease, this will require to be ceased given that these medications can really make heart tamponade more extreme. If fluid build-up continues to be an issue, pericardiocentesis might be carried out numerous times. Dogs with idiopathic pericarditis might likewise be provided corticosteroid medication to minimize inflammation. If signs don’t enhance, pericardiectomy, surgical elimination of the pericardium might be bought. Dogs with transmittable pericarditis will be provided proper antibiotic or antifungal medication. Other treatments might be required if cancer, or an acquired problem like PPHD is triggering your canine’s pericardial effusion instead of inflammatory pericarditis.

Healing of Heart Sac Inflammation (Pericarditis) in Dogs

Dogs with idiopathic, main pericarditis normally have an excellent diagnosis. About 50% of cases react to pericardiocentesis alone, and pericardiectomy normally treatments those that don’t react. Constrictive pericarditis can likewise normally be dealt with by elimination of the thickened pericardium. Efficient treatment of transmittable pericarditis will depend upon removing the germs or fungis that are triggering the infection. The primary threat with all kinds of pericarditis is that heart tamponade can end up being deadly prior to treatment is possible. Talking about the condition with a vet prior to it ends up being extreme is the very best way of avoiding the issue.

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