Canine Heart Murmurs

Canine Heart Murmurs are a common form of heart disease. A murmur is simply an abnormal sound that is heard when listening to the heart with a stethoscope. These heart murmurs can range from mild to severe and can be caused by various factors such as congenital defects, tachycardia, valve abnormalities, or infection. In most cases, heart murmurs are not life-threatening and can be managed with medications and lifestyle changes. It’s important to have your pet evaluated by a veterinarian in order to determine the cause of the murmur and the best course of treatment.

Symptoms of Canine Heart Murmurs

The symptoms of heart murmurs can vary depending on the severity of their condition. Common signs include:

  • Decreased ability to exercise
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness

Dogs with more severe heart murmurs usually have an increased heart rate, blue gums or tongue due to lack of oxygen in the body, and fluid retention which can lead to swollen belly and legs. If you think that your pet has a heart murmur, it’s important to contact your veterinarian.

Diagnosing Canine Heart Murmurs

Diagnosing heart murmurs can be done through various tests such as x-rays, echocardiograms, blood tests, and cardiac ultrasound. X-rays and echocardiograms allow your veterinarian to assess the size and shape of their heart, the thickness of its walls, any abnormalities in structure or function, and the presence of fluid around the heart. Blood tests can be used to check for signs of infection or other underlying conditions. Finally, a cardiac ultrasound can show detailed images of their heart’s chambers and valves.

Stages of Canine Heart Murmurs

Heart murmurs are typically split into four stages.

Stage 1

Is considered mild, with the murmur only heard when a stethoscope is placed directly over their heart.

Stage 2

The murmur can still be heard through a stethoscope but is also audible from other locations on their body.

Stage 3

The murmur is loud enough to be heard without the use of a stethoscope

Stage 4

The murmur is considered very loud.

Treating Canine Heart Murmurs

Depending on the severity of the murmur, treatment can include medications to reduce inflammation and improve blood flow, as well as lifestyle changes such as reducing stress and limiting exercise. Surgery could be necessary in more serious cases. Ultimately, your veterinarian will be able to determine which course of treatment is best for your pet based on their evaluation.

Preventing Canine Heart Murmurs

There are several things you can do to minimize the risk of developing heart murmurs in your pet. Maintaining a healthy weight and providing regular exercise are important factors in keeping your dog’s heart healthy. Feeding your pet a balanced diet without too much fat or sodium can help keep their heart functioning properly. Finally, making sure your pet is up to date on vaccinations and receiving regular check-ups with your veterinarian can help identify any heart issues before they become more serious.