So you go to the Vet one day for a routine visit, maybe a vaccination. The Vet listens to the heart and then announces that your dog has a heart murmur. You feel stressed and panicked. Is it dangerous? What should you do? Read on.
What is a heart murmur.
A heart murmur is a noise.
Your dog’s heart (and your own) makes certain audible noises. Normally there are two sounds. They sound like a lub and a dub. In quick succession, and then there is a short break.
Lub-dub … Lub-dub …
Say it quickly over and over again. That’s what your dog’s heart should sound like.
Sometimes other noses can be heard. Those are murmurs.
A murmur is made by the blood inside the heart flowing around something or through a small hole. Imagine a pump with a small hole in it – if you use it, it will make a ‘hissing’ sound. That’s what a murmur is.
Not all murmurs are bad. The most common murmur is heard in little puppies. This is often because a small hole inside the heart hasn’t close after birth. This kind of murmur often disappears in a month or two.
There are other harmless murmurs. Sometimes a murmur will stay with the dog his whole life and never cause a problem.
Other murmurs can be very serious and lead to heart disease. A common murmur is due to the sides of a heart valve becoming ‘leaky’ in old age. This murmur is usually discovered in an older dog who has never had a problem before. Such murmur can lead to heart disease.
The bottom line is – by listening to your dog’s heart the Vet doesn’t know if the murmur is serious or not. You need to do an ultrasound to know that.
If a murmur is found, ultrasound is almost always necessary.
Sometimes the heart disease needs to be treated with medication or on rare occasions – surgery.
Don’t stress, a murmur is not a death sentence. Some dogs live for years with heart disease and lead normal, healthy lives.