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Objective—To determine whether dobutamine stress tests (DST) can be used to detect cardiac dysfunction in dogs with early left ventricular dysfunction (ELVD) induced by rapid right ventricular pacing (RRVP).

Animals—7 adult male Beagles.

Procedure—A pacemaker was surgically implanted in each dog at the level of the right ventricular apex. Electrocardiography, Doppler sphygmomanometry, and Doppler echocardiography were performed before and during a DST prior to activation of the pacemaker and every 3 to 4 days during the period of RRVP. Dobutamine stress tests were performed by infusing dobutamine at incremental dosages ranging from 12.5 to 42.5 µg/kg of body weight/min.

Results—Clinical signs of congestive heart failure were not observed during the pacing period. However, all dogs developed ELVD associated with significant changes in values for most Doppler echocardiographic variables obtained prior to DST. Adverse cardiac effects were not detected during DST. Most Doppler echocardiographic indices of cardiac function were significantly altered in response to dobutamine infusion during the pacing period, compared with prepacing values. However, a dobutamine-induced 2-fold increase in cardiac output was maintained.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Dobutamine stress tests can be safely performed in dogs with experimentally induced ELVD. Dobutamine stress tests may be a sensitive, noninvasive diagnostic method, complementary to standard clinical examinations, for detection of early cardiac dysfunction in dogs asymptomatic for dilated cardiomyopathy. (Am J Vet Res 2001;62:448–455)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research