DogTime Blogs

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pet heart murmurs – should I be worried?

Heart murmurs are a common finding in routine veterinary examinations. But, the stethoscope alone cannot determine the underlying cause. Once diagnosed, it is not uncommon to have a million questions running through your mind. This article will shed some light on the more common questions such as:
1. why does my pet have a heart murmur?
2. how will the murmur affect my pet’s life?
3. what tests are necessary and why?
4. does my pet need medication?
5. does my pet need a lifestyle change?

Pets younger than 3 years of age can be affected by birth heart defects. Many congenital heart disorders follow specific breeds. Some younger pets will live comfortably with few problems for their whole life. New murmurs found in older pets are usually caused by heart valve problems or heart muscle problems. Other causes may be due to infections, anemia or hypertension.

Some murmurs maybe accompanied by moderate to severe clinical signs such as lethargy, poor growth or respiratory problems. In these cases, a full heart examination with or without medication, and a change in exercise and diet is often recommended.

Once a murmur is diagnosed, it is highly recommended that these pets undergo a complete cardiac assessment – radiographs, ECG, ultrasound. This will help determine the treatment plan.

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