Heart murmur symptoms in dogs and recommended care

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dog with heart murmur

Heart murmur in dogs isn’t always a serious problem, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention to it. In fact, it may be an indication of more serious heart disease. In such a case, an early diagnosis will be essential.

After explaining in detail what a canine heart murmur consists of, in the following lines we will talk about how it originates and what are the symptoms of this type of heart problem.

In addition, we will see how a heart murmur is detected through various diagnostic tests and what care and treatment a dog with these types of problems needs.

Index of contents

  • 1 What is a canine heart murmur?
  • 2 Causes of a heart murmur in dogs
  • 3 Symptoms of a heart problem in dogs
  • 4 How to Care for a Dog With a Heart Murmur

What is a canine heart murmur?

A heart murmur in dogs is a different sound than a normal heartbeat, similar to a whistle or vibration heard when listening to the dog’s heart with a stethoscope. This sound indicates that there is an alteration in the blood flow that passes through the heart.

A murmur in a dog’s heart can be classified into six levels of intensity, depending on the volume of the sound. However, we must keep in mind that a grade 3 murmur does not have to be more serious than a level 1.

And is that not all murmurs are pathological. There are some, such as the “innocent murmur” that occurs in puppies, which tends to disappear without consequences for their health. In order to determine the situation of our specific case, the veterinaryn must carry out different tests.

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hiding dog

Causes of a heart murmur in dogs

Often the murmur indicative of heart disease in dogs has to do with age. As they age, dogs are more likely to develop problems of this type.

However, there are several causes that can cause these turbulences in the blood flow that passes through your heart. Among them we find from birth defects in the walls of the heart, to blockages or deficiencies in the heart valves.

It can also be due to a tumor, infections or diseases such as the heart worm. Small dogs have a greater tendency to suffer from heart conditions such as degeneration of the heart valves (chronic valve endocardiosis).

Still, mini breeds like him Poodle, the Chihuahua, the Yorkshire terrier or the Maltese can live for many years with a mitral murmur if they do not have symptoms of heart failure. The average age at which this degenerative disease usually appears in dogs of breeds of less than 10 kilos, is around 7 and 8 years.

Symptoms of a heart problem in dogs

Like the causes, the symptoms of a heart problem vary from dog to dog. Heart murmur is the most common warning sign, but it may be accompanied by other signs, such as:

  • Night cough or lying down
  • Difficulty breathing or breathing faster or noisier than normal
  • Fainting, lethargy, weakness or decay in the dog
  • Gray or bluish gums
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Collapse

These symptoms may also be due to other problems or diseases not directly related to the heart, so it will be necessary to go to the vet with the dog so that he can examine it.

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For a reliable diagnosis, blood tests including heartworm testing, chest x-rays, electrocardiograms, and ultrasound and blood pressure tests may be required.

dog with heart disease

How to Care for a Dog With a Heart Murmur

The treatment recommended by the specialist will be different depending on the cause of the heart murmur, how it is and how the affected dog is.

If the murmur is from an illness, medication treatment may be sufficient to resolve the problem. However, if it is due to a congenital condition, an operation may be necessary.

In any case, it is very important that the problem is detected as soon as possible. To prevent heart failures that put the dog’s life at risk, additional care will also be required. The main ones are:

  • Proper nutrition, with special feed for dogs with heart disease or a personalized diet that prevents the dog from being overweight. This is essential, as obesity can aggravate the dog’s heart problems.
  • Strictly follow the treatment. We must administer the medications that the vet tells us rigorously, in addition to carrying out periodic controls to adjust the necessary doses.
  • Moderate exercise. Although you do not have to force it, it is good to carry out regular physical activity that prevents your life from being excessively sedentary. Short, flat walks will help keep your heart in shape.

Detecting a heart problem in our canine companion can worry us a lot, but don’t lose your cool. Following these recommendations and the treatment prescribed by a veterinaryn, dogs with a heart murmur usually have a fairly high life expectancy.