All in One Guide – How to Treat Heart Murmur in Dogs?
According to the study, 28% percent of 195 puppies with an average age of 54 days, had an innocent heart abnormality. The results showed that an innocent murmur had a musical character and systolic.
As you can see, heart murmurs are common in dogs.
Often pet owners have no idea about what a heart murmur is and how to care for their furry friends once they’re diagnosed.
A heart murmur is an abnormal heartbeat. When your vet checks your dog’s heartbeat using his stethoscope, he hears a sound that’s abnormal and orders additional investigations.
In this article, we go through everything you need to know about the condition such as how dogs get heart murmurs and how to treat heart murmur in dogs.
Let’s jump right in, shall we?
Let’s Start With the Basics: What is a Heart Murmur?
According to clinical assistant professor of cardiology Dr. Sonya Wesselowski, a heart murmur is an abnormal sound produced in the heart of your dog.
The abnormal sounds are caused by rapid or turbulent blood flow within the heart.
You can hear soft heart murmurs using a stethoscope.. Heart murmurs in puppies of around six months are normal and do not pose a significant health threat as they vanish when they grow up.
A heart murmur is not a disease in itself, but it signals underlying heart conditions. It, in itself, is simply a symptom that indicates the possibility of cardiac problems. Several factors contribute to heart murmurs in dogs. So, how do dogs get heart murmurs?
Let’s find out!
What causes a heart murmur in dogs?
The causes may be something that the dog was born with or some health complications that he developed in later life.
How do dogs get heart murmurs?
Let’s find out!
Some health conditions contribute to heart murmurs in dogs. The following diseases can cause the heart murmurs:
- A congenital disease in dogs from birth
- Abnormal heart conditions developed at a later stage
Veterinary cardiologist, Dr. Jordan Vitt lists three types of congenital heart defects common in dogs. This includes conditions like:
- Pulmonic stenosis
- Subaortic stenosis
- Patent ductus arteriosus
So, if your dog has a heart murmur, it might be an indicator of cardiac disease. Your vet will conduct investigations to figure out what the underlying cause is.
Understanding the Root Causes: A Quick Look
They block the normal blood flow as some part of the heart did not form in a way that it should have been. The abnormal or disturbance in the flow of the blood in the heart causes heart murmurs in dogs.
We need to understand these heart defects as they may pose a significant risk to the dog’s health and life.
Stay with us as we take you one by one of the three common heart defects in dogs.
Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)
PDA is a condition in which the blood vessels required to be closed aren’t. The blood flows back to the lungs instead of flowing in the body and results in the enlargement of the heart and heart failure.
How can PDA be treated?
It is treatable if diagnosed at an early stage through surgery.
The ductus is surgically closed through an incision made in the chest (this has a longer recovery time) or a minimally invasive technique, which is more popular.
Stenosis is caused due to the narrowing of the standard passages or pathways of the blood flow. This results in restricting the usual flow of blood in and out of the heart.
The condition mainly affects your dog’s pulmonic valve and aortic valve. The symptoms include weakness and unconsciousness after heavy activity.
The treatment is a simple surgery to open up the narrowed valve.
What Are The Symptoms of a Heart Murmur In Dogs?
The symptoms are very important as they indicate the owner of some cardiac problem in his dog or puppy. The distinct abnormal sounds of heart in dogs are a matter of concern.
How to hear a heart murmur in dogs?
If your dog has any of the below-mentioned symptoms, take him immediately to the vet clinic. Heart murmurs and health conditions related to it should never be ignored.
- Irregular heartbeat
- Persistent cough and hacking
- Excessive panting during routine activities
- Panting while resting
- Easy to tire
- Not as energetic/excitable as before
- Sudden collapsing
- Fainting spells
- Severe water retention
- Bluish color of the tongue or mouth (some dogs naturally have blue tongues)
- Increased pulse
- Loss of appetite
How Serious Is a Heart Murmur In A Dog?
The heart murmur is diagnosed on a scale–generally ranging from 1 to 6. These pointers are based on the softest heard abnormal sound to the loudest that is point 6.
So, how serious is a heart murmur in a dog?
The grading of scales helps to analyze the seriousness of heart diseases and whether it is curable. Brief information about Grade 1 to 6 of heart murmur diagnosis is given below.
- Grade 1 – least serious, extremely soft and faint audibility.
- Grade 2 – audible only through the use of a stethoscope.
- Grade 3 – poses a threat to the dog’s health.
- Grade 4 – loud and intense murmurs heard on each side of the chest. As for the question, “How bad is a grade 4 heart murmur in dogs?” it isn’t the best and should be treated as soon as possible.
- Grade 5 – extremely loud murmurs that can even be heard even without a stethoscope by putting a hand against your dog’s chest.
- Grade 6 – very severe and loud murmurs pose a significant risk to the dog’s life.
What are the types of heart murmurs in Dogs?
Not every heart murmur is severe and a matter to panic.
We say so because a harmless heart murmur, also known as a physiologic heart murmur, is typical in young puppies.
If your puppy has a harmless heart murmur, do not panic as it will go away when he grows. Some heart murmurs indicate mild health conditions in dogs, and they continue to live a healthy life.
There are three types of heart murmur found in dogs other than the innocent or harmless heart murmur. They are:
- Systolic murmur
- Diastolic murmur
- Continuous murmur
It is crucial to clinically find out the type and grade of murmur because it determines the treatment that has to be given to the dog.
- Murmurs occur during one phase in the natural heart cycle.
- Caused by a leak in the mitral valve
- Subaortic stenosis or Pulmonic stenosis can also be one of the causes
- Very rare and uncommon
- The aortic valve is not tightly closed or leaky
- Often caused by PDA
- Leads to heart failure
- The breeds commonly affected are german Shepherd, Maltase, Poodle, Bichon Frise, Keeshond, and Chihuahua
How To Correctly Clinically Diagnose a Heart Murmur In A Dog?
A heart murmur is generally diagnosed using a stethoscope.
The vet doctor listens to the heart sound of your dog by using a stethoscope around his chest. IIf it is a case of acute Grade 5 or Grade 6 heart murmur, you can easily hear the distinctive heart sounds by placing your hand on your dog’s chest.
In case of any abnormal heart sounds, he proceeds to analyze the type, causes, and grade.
The additional testing requires radiographs, echocardiograms, and an electrocardiogram of the heart of your dog.
How bad is a grade 4 heart murmur in dogs?
According to the Journal of Veterinary Cardiology volume 4, the clinical diagnosis of a heart murmur is of great importance. The doctor who has detected a heart murmur in a dog should follow the required diagnosis procedure and tests to determine the heart murmur’s cause.
A common misunderstanding is that a heart murmur is treatable, whereas the symptom that causes the heart murmur is treated.
A heart murmur is just a simple indication of a significant cardiac problem in your dog.
To decide precisely what causes the symptoms, the veterinarian may need to identify between, for example, a wide variety of irregular heart sounds — broken sounds, ejection sounds, gallop rhythms, and clicks.
He or she must also differentiate between irregular lung and heart sounds and listen to see if the irregular sound’s timing is associated with respiration or heartbeat.
How to Treat a Heart Murmur in Dogs?
You must understand that you don’t cure heart murmur but the underlying conditions associated with it.
Some common ways to treat the cardiac conditions in dogs leading to heart murmur are:
- Surgery in case of a closed or narrowed valve.
- Change in diet
- Restricted exercise
- Care for a long time
You also need to know how to care for a dog with a heart murmur.
How to treat Heart murmurs in dogs naturally?
Some nutrients and omega-three rich foods can help resolve the cardiac problems of your dog.The nutrients that must be included in the diet of your dog for a healthy heart are:
- Coenzyme Q10
- Omega 3
- D- Ribose
- Milk thistle
- Vitamin E
We understand that your pet dog is a part of your family, so taking good care of his health is a top priority.
In Conclusion: How to Treat Heart Murmur in Dogs
Did we go over everything you needed to know?
A heart murmur is merely a symptom of a disease. If caught in time, it can help you catch the underlying cardiac disease and seek treatment for it. In most cases, once the underlying condition is taken care of, the heart murmur seems to go away as well.
Dr. Veronica Heller
Born and brought up in Grand Marais, Minnesota, ever since she was a little girl, Dr. Veronica Heller dreamed of becoming a vet thanks to Sruffy, her family pet. She graduated from College of Veterinary Medicine, Minnesota and began her veterinary career in Larpenteur Animal Hospital in St. Paul as an emergency Veterinarian. Since then, she has worked with Minnesota Veterinary Hospital, Small Animal Hospital, and Blue Pearl Pet Hospital. Her interests in the field include preventive medicine, internal medicine, nutrition, and surgery. She’s also a loving pet mother to two cats and a Golden Retriever.