Heart Murmurs in Dogs
Posted November 30, 2017
When a veterinarian uses a stethoscope to listen
to your dog’s heart, chances are that the heart will sound normal.
However, in some cases, a veterinarian may hear an abnormality such
as a heart murmur.
Sonya Wesselowski, a clinical assistant professor of cardiology
at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine &
Biomedical Sciences, said heart murmurs are abnormal heart sounds
caused by turbulent or rapid blood flow within the heart. In dogs,
heart murmurs are usually the result of a leaky or narrowed heart
Heart murmurs are not always a cause for concern. Wesselowski
said that some soft heart murmurs could be normal in growing
puppies less than 6 months of age. However, most heart murmurs in
dogs do indicate that there is an underlying abnormality of the
heart. In some cases, the heart murmur could be caused by a
congenital heart defect the dog was born with, or due to a heart
disease that develops later in life.
How can you know if your dog has a heart murmur? Wesselowski
said that regular examinations with your veterinarian are crucial
for detection of heart murmurs, as a heart murmur itself does not
cause any signs or symptoms. Instead, a heart murmur is a finding
that suggests a cardiac problem may be present.
If a heart murmur is detected in your dog, Wesselowski
recommended additional testing to investigate for an underlying
“A cardiac ultrasound, also known as an echocardiogram, is the
definitive test to determine the cause of your dog’s heart murmur
and diagnose any underlying heart disease,” Wesselowski said. “Your
veterinarian may also choose to perform an X-ray of your dog’s
chest as an initial screening test to look for evidence of heart
Even if a dog is not showing signs of heart disease such as
lethargy, exercise intolerance, cough, difficulty breathing, or
fainting spells, further investigation into the cause of a heart
murmur is always a good idea, Wesselowski said. These tests can
help to determine if your dog would benefit from starting cardiac
medications or if they should have more frequent check-ups to
monitor their heart condition.
In general, most heart murmurs are an indication of an
underlying heart condition and should be taken seriously. If your
veterinarian detects a heart murmur in your dog, be sure to
investigate the murmur and determine the best way to protect your
dog’s heart health.
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