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Congenital Heart Diseases of Puppies and Kittens

      Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a defined as a morphologic defect of the heart or associated great vessels present at birth. Abnormalities are caused by alterations or arrests in particular phases of embryonic development of the fetal heart. The term congenital does not imply that the defect was inherited, and the defect may have occurred spontaneously or secondary to a drug or toxin. By studying families of animals with specific CHDs, many defects have also been shown to be heritable. Additionally, if the defect was caused by a spontaneous de novo mutation, that individual has the potential to transmit the mutation to offspring. The diagnosis of CHD is important not only to the health of the patient but to eliminate affected individuals from the breeding pool.
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