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Heart Murmur In Dogs: What to Expect

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Heart Murmur In Dogs: What to Expect
What to expect when your dog has a murmur

Taking care of our furry friends is a labor of love. Pets are a lot of work, and they are also a lot of joy in one furry little bundle. Thinking that something could be wrong with a special pet is a stressful experience, to say the least. Suspecting that your dog could have a heart murmur can be one of those tricky situations. Most likely, a veterinarian will tell you that they suspect your pet could have a heart murmur after listening to their chest. If that happens, it is important not to get too upset. Because, in many cases, a heart murmur can be lived with and managed in a way that lets your dog have a full, healthy life.

Heart Murmurs: What are they Exactly?

heart murmur is when your heart is pumping faster than it should be, it causes the heart to work harder and for the blood flow to become more often than it should. These sound like extra heartbeats and a trained veterinarian can hear the difference in a normal heartbeat and one that has a murmur.

The heart murmur could be a sign of other medical problems that have to do with cardiac health.

There are three distinct types of murmurs in dogs. We will go over the three types of heart murmurs that are commonly found in dogs.

Diastolic Heart Murmur

diastolic heart murmur is when the murmur occurs in between heartbeats.

Systolic Heart Murmur

The systolic murmur happens when the systole phase is occurring, and the blood is pumped out during heartbeats.

Continuous Murmur

continuous murmur can be heard during the normal heartbeat phase

 Your veterinarian will likely tell you the severity of the dog's murmur at the time of diagnosis. They range in severity from one to six levels. The veterinarian will explain to you which level your dog falls in and what you can expect having a pet with a heart murmur. Be sure and ask questions if you feel confused or want clarification about the diagnosis. It is vital to listen to their recommendations and advice to ensure that your furry friend can be as healthy as possible. 

What Are Dog Heart Murmur Symptoms?

Dog Anatomy for heart murmur symptoms

The symptoms of a dog heart murmur will vary. It will depend on the type of murmur if there are any other health problems and the severity of their diagnosis. For example, some dogs never show any outward signs that they have a heart murmur at all. They may seem perfectly fine all of the time. Dogs with more serious murmurs or underlying cardiac issues may show noticeable symptoms.

Dogs with (CHS) congestive Heart failure are at high risk of suffering symptoms that require a veterinary emergency visit. Pet parents that have a dog with a heart murmur diagnosis will need to keep an eye out for congestive heart failure symptoms as sometimes they have a connection. A pet that is coughing heavily and that has been diagnosed with a heart murmur will likely need to get assessed. This could be a sign of congestive heart failure. Other signs are fast breathing, fainting, difficulty in catching breath, and generalized weakness. They may lose interest in exercise and play, show lethargic symptoms, and have blue gums or gray gums. Dogs that are displaying these symptoms should see a veterinarian as soon as possible just to be on the safe side.

What Are The Causes of Dog Murmurs?

Congestive heart Failure in dogs

The causes of a heart murmur can be due to underlying health conditions, cardiac issues, and more. Generally, a murmur is an abnormal blow flow disturbance.

A blood flow disturbance can be caused by a valve disease in the heart or muscles and structures that affect the heart. It can also be caused by blockages in the arteries. Other things that can affect the blood flow are defects in the heart and muscles, heartworm disease, and deficiencies in the mitral valve. The veterinarian may mention heart diseases like cardiomyopathy or endocarditis. These are diseases that humans can get, too. They fall under the umbrella of cardiac illness and dogs can get it just as we can.

Many times, it is merely something that happens that no one can prevent. The good news is that many of these conditions are very treatable with the right care and treatment from a trusted vet.

Other Causes of Heart Murmurs

There can be structural defects in the heart that can cause dog heart murmurs. The heart is made up of the left atrium, the right atrium, the left ventricle, and the right ventricle. Blood flow moves through the heart, through the artery, and to the lungs. The oxygenation process occurs in the lungs, and then it flows to the left side of the heart and to the aortic valve. The heart then pumps blood to the other areas in the body it is required. A structural defect in the heart can cause blood flow disruption. This disruption often shows as a dog heart murmur.

Common heart structure issues are thickening and narrowing of valves and blood vessels, a leaky heart valve, a hole between arteries, and a hole in or between heart chambers.

Congenital heart problems can also occur in dogs. This means that they were born that way and it is congenital. There are some breeds that are more prone to heart problems that are congenital than others.

There are a variety of other health conditions and factors that can go into a dog heart murmur diagnosis. A veterinarian is often able to pinpoint any underlying health conditions such as heart disease that may be causing the heart murmur. That is why we often turn to our trusted vet for help in these situations. It is understandable that a pet parent would not know how or why a heart murmur occurs in dogs. Pet parents are not animal doctors. The best thing that a pet parent can do is go to a trusted vet, learn as much about the condition as possible, and become an informed caretaker. Getting a problem diagnosed is up to the professionals. At Innovet Pet, we want pet owners to be as informed as possible. This is because we understand that pets are a part of the family and are as beloved as can be.

Is A Heart Murmur Life Threatening?

A heart murmur is not always life-threatening. In fact, many dogs can live a long and healthy life as though they don't even have one.

Interestingly, some puppies may have been diagnosed with a heart murmur and then have it heal on its own as they grow. Heart murmur in puppies can heal before they are at the adult stage if they have been diagnosed with an innocent murmur. This does happen sometimes and is something that a veterinarian should tell you is possible, depending on the diagnosis. 

There are some heart murmurs that are serious or that are linked with a severe cardiac condition. These types of heart murmurs should be monitored closely and may require regular veterinary visits. Dogs with more serious heart murmurs will need more care and caution. Dog heart murmur life expectancy can range based on the type of murmur that has been diagnosed. However, they can still have a great attitude and a playful spirit. Quality veterinary care and loving pet parents can ensure that their dog is as happy and as healthy as they can be every single day.

How Does a Heart Murmur Get Diagnosed?

Dog heart murmurs get diagnosed much the same way they do in people. A veterinarian will listen to their heart with a stethoscope and will likely be able to hear that something is amiss and out of the ordinary.

Sometimes, the veterinarian will conduct more tests to get a firmer diagnosis. For example, they may want to give your dog an EKG, a radiograph, or other tests that can help provide a firm diagnosis on what type of heart murmur your pet has.

It is important to keep your veterinarian informed on any health issues that you notice. Dogs that have had heart worm disease or are part of certain breeds may be susceptible to getting a heart murmur. Your trusted vet will want this information as they provide medical care for your pet and can have a medical history to reference.

Dogs that are overweight or that are pregnant will need closer watching. In general, pregnant or overweight dogs require more veterinary care than usual. Pregnant dogs that have heart murmurs will need to be watched closely and will likely require more veterinary visits to ensure that she is healthy and that her pups are safe. Overweight dogs that have a heart murmur will also require more care. Your vet may recommend a diet change that will help them shed a few pounds, and that is heart healthy.

Sometimes, there is no indication that a dog will acquire a heart murmur. It could get noticed at a regular veterinary visit. This is why regular check-ups with your trusted vet are important. They can find things quickly and get a treatment plan in place immediately that may give your dog a better prognosis than if an appointment had been delayed. 

Murmurs: How They Feel And Sound

A murmur often sounds like a heart murmur in a person. Some distinctive sounds are very apparent to a trained vet that knows what a normal heartbeat sounds like. A normal heartbeat would have the regular flow and rhythm. A heart murmur would be accompanied by whooshing sounds or clicks. Sometimes, they sound like a galloping rhythm or a click. The heart beats can also be slower or faster than they should be.

Murmurs in dogs that are low-grade in nature may not be felt by a pet parent when applying the hand to the chest. A dog heart murmur grade 3 may not be able to be felt by the owner just through hand application. However, a dog heart murmur grade 4 may be able to be felt by the pet parent through the chest.

What Is The Treatment For Heart Murmurs in Dogs?

Indeed, the type of treatment for a murmur in dogs will depend on the kind of dog heart murmur that has been diagnosed and the severity of it. Also, treatments can vary on whether there are any underlying health conditions.

Sometimes, a heart murmur may not require any treatment. Innocent murmurs usually don't require treatment. But, the veterinarian may want to see them on a frequent basis to ensure that all is going well with their health and that the condition has not progressed.

Congenital heart murmur treatment for dogs may require surgical intervention. The veterinarian will recommend surgery if they feel it would be in the best interests of the pet.

For murmurs in dogs that are caused by another condition, many veterinarians will recommend medication and a diet change. However, this will be on a case-by-case basis and will be unique to the health and status of the dog.

 Dogs that have heart murmurs occurring from heartworm disease may have a complete reversal of the murmur with the correct medication.

What Is The Prognosis For Murmurs in Dogs?

That is a difficult question to answer. A solid prognosis for a heart murmur is best determined by their veterinarian. It will depend on a wide variety of factors. The prognosis of a heart murmur in dogs will depend on the severity of the case, whether or not they have any other health conditions, and any other factors that the veterinarian takes into account.

Some murmurs are low-grade and may resolve on their own. For example, a heart murmur that is level 1 or 2 is likely to have an excellent prognosis as they are considered low risk. A heart murmur that is level 5 or 6 may have a worse prognosis. The high-level heart murmurs in dogs are more serious and will require ongoing care and treatment. Of course, no pet parent wants to hear that their pet has a heart problem. The critical thing to do is listen to the advice of the veterinarian and do whatever you can to make their lives more comfortable and less stressful. Following the treatment plans and veterinary recommendations is essential to the health of your pet. It may require life-long visits to the vet and regular medication or lifestyle changes. The best positive adaptation is not panic or needlessly stress out about things that you cannot change. You can, however, do your best as a pet owner to follow treatment plans and become as informed as possible about heart disease and heart murmurs.

Can I Prevent Heart Murmurs in Dogs?

Congenital heart murmurs are not preventable. These are conditions that are developed in-utero, and there is nothing that anyone can do to prevent them. They are usually inherited down the line, and some are common in certain dog breeds.

Heart murmurs can sometimes occur from obesity. If they are significantly overweight, it is possible for them to develop a murmur. This type of heart murmur is preventable by getting control of their weight before it gets any higher. The veterinarian will likely recommend a diet and lifestyle change to ensure that they get their weight down. If dogs are diagnosed with a heart murmur and are overweight, it is possible to reverse or drastically improve the condition.

How Do I Help My Dog With A Heart Murmur?

Helping your dog with a murmur will be a combination of vigilance, listening to the recommendations of the veterinarian, and following treatment plans that are given. Going to follow-up veterinary appointments will be crucial in ensuring that your dog is as healthy as they can be.

Spending more time with your dog will be important for their emotional well-being and as well as for yours. They may get anxious if they are suddenly visiting the vet more or they sense that things are different in their households. Extra one-on-one time with your pet can help alleviate some of their anxieties.

Natural Options For Murmurs

CBD Oil for Dogs with murmurs

Dogs that have a heart murmur can live a long and healthy life. The right medication and treatment can make a big difference in their overall health. However, natural options can be great for dogs as an addition to their prescribed treatment. CBD Oil For Dogs is a natural product that dogs can be given to help with some of the symptoms that they may have. CBD has been shown to have a tremendous healing effect on pets that suffer from anxiety, cancer, inflammation, pain, and more. Dogs that suffer from heart murmurs or cardiac problems can have this organic and all-natural oil without worry. There are virtually no side effects, and there is no "high." This means that your pet can have an all-natural option for their health that they can reap the benefits from right away. Pet owners that are tired of worrying about giving their dog something with side effects will be happy to know that this option exists and that it has none of the devastating side effects that other things have.

Sources:

Heart Murmur in Dogs
Heart Murmurs and Dogs
Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs
CBD: Safety and Side Effects
CBD May Support Treating Inflammation

Approved by:

Dr. Ivana Vukasinovic

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, University of Belgrade

Ivana Vukasinovic grew up in Serbia and attended the University of Belgrade where she received a degree in Veterinary medicine in 2012 and later completed surgical residency working mostly with livestock. Her first year of practice was split between busy small animal practice and emergency clinic, and after two more years of treating many different species of animals, she opened her own veterinary pharmacy where an interest in canine and feline nutrition emerged with an accent on fighting animal obesity. In her free time, she acts as a foster parent for stray animals before their adoption, likes to read SF books and making salted caramel cookies.

 

Thanks for stopping by!
P.S. We Love You!

Sincerely,
The Innovet Team



Please do not ask for emergency or specific medical questions about your pets in the comments. Innovet Pet Products is unable to provide you with specific medical advice or counseling. A detailed physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinarian are required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet requires emergency attention or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic health conditions, please contact or visit your local/preferred veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.

Please share your experiences and stories, your opinions and feedback about this blog, or what you've learned that you'd like to share with others.

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