A heart murmur is an abnormal heart sound caused by unstable blood flow within the heart. A veterinarian can usually hear this by listening to your dog’s heart with a stethoscope. This article discusses the seriousness of heart murmurs in dogs.
Causes & Detection
Sometimes a murmur may be physiologic or innocent, while other times, a veterinarian can determine it to be pathologic or caused by a disease. Also, pathologic heart murmurs may also happen due to a structural issue within your dog’s heart or an extracardiac problem (not caused by heart disease). Do all heart murmurs in dogs sound the same? No. The loudness of a murmur reflects the amount of instability in the heart. However, it doesn’t always correlate directly with the disease severity.
The specific characteristics of heart murmurs in dogs and any symptoms will help veterinarians determine the cause of these murmurs. In most cases, a veterinarian from Mount Carmel Animal Hospital can detect a heart murmur in your dog using a stethoscope. If your vet detects a heart murmur, you will have to answer several questions about your dog’s health. One of our veterinarians will also examine your dog’s general physical condition to confirm whether or not some clinical signs or symptoms indicate the need for further diagnostic testing.
Diagnostic Testing for Your Pet
Depending on your dog’s clinical signs and the severity of the murmur, your vet will typically recommend the following tests:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): The doctor can assess your dog’s heart rhythm and diagnose the underlying causes.
- Echocardiogram: The examiner may evaluate the heart’s size and movement to determine the location of the heart murmur.
- Chest Radiographs: X-rays can assist vets in getting a view of your pet’s bones and internal organs.
- Blood Pressure: A veterinarian measures your dog’s blood pressure with an inflatable cuff around its’ foreleg or tail.
Treatment for heart murmurs in dogs depends on the underlying cause of the unstable blood flow. In addition, a treatment plan may consist of a combination of medications, specialized diets, and supportive care if an underlying problem causes a heart murmur. Overall, one of our veterinarians will advise you on the appropriate action course to satisfy your dog’s unique needs.
The prognosis of heart murmurs in dogs ranges from excellent to grave, based on the cause. The long-term prognosis for a dog with a heart murmur due to congenital heart disease varies depending on the specific defect type. However, the prognosis is good if the defect may be surgically corrected.
Ultimately, each case differs, and your vet will explain the prognosis and treatment options that best work for your dog’s unique needs.
HERE AT MOUNT CARMEL ANIMAL HOSPITAL, WE’LL TREAT YOUR PETS LIKE FAMILY!
Mount Carmel Animal Hospital has been serving the Northern Baltimore/Southern York community for over 30 years and is proud to be an independently operated, small animal practice committed to excellence in veterinary medicine and client service. From grooming to wellness services, along with Canine Life Skills Training Courses, and surgical procedures, we have the expertise that will best serve the needs of you and your pet. Contact us at 410-343-0200 and follow us on Facebook!