Objective: To determine the feasibility for use of a 6-minute walk test (6-MWT) in dogs with congestive heart failure (CHF) and document that the distance walked in 6 minutes decreases when a dog has CHF.
Animals: 16 young mature male hound-crossbred dogs weighing between 25 and 37 kg.
Procedure: An unobstructed path (22.73 m) was measured in a hallway. Each dog was walked on a leash for 6 minutes; each dog was allowed to set its own pace. At the end of 6 minutes (as measured by use of a stopwatch), the total distance walked was measured. Heart rate (HR) obtained by auscultation and mean systemic arterial pressure (MAP) obtained by oscillometry were recorded before and after the 6-MWT. Heart failure was induced by use of rapid ventricular pacing. Mean of the distance walked, HR, and MAP before and after the 6-MWT were compared between the control period and after dogs developed induced CHF.
Results: Dogs with CHF had a significant increase in resting HR, significant decrease in MAP, and a significant decrease in the distance walked in 6 minutes. The MAP increased slightly after exercise during the control period but decreased slightly after exercise during the CHF period. Fractional shortening decreased significantly when dogs had CHF.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: Analysis of these results indicated that the distance walked in 6 minutes decreased significantly when a dog had CHF. The 6-MWT requires little time, space, or equipment and may replace the treadmill exercise test.