Heart Murmurs in Dogs

Heart Murmurs in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost
Heart Murmurs in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What are Heart Murmurs?

A routine check-up with the veterinarian will involve listening to the dog’s heart with a stethoscope. During this test, the veterinarian will make sure that the normal sounds of the heart are present as expected and any abnormal sounds are not. A heart murmur is an abnormal sound indicating turbulence in the flow of blood. While not a disease or condition itself, a heart murmur can be a sign of heart trouble, such as endocarditis, valve abnormalities, or stenosis (narrowing of the arteries).

A heart murmur is a vibration or sound originating from the heart and associated major blood vessels. This sound can be a major diagnostic clue in determining whether there are any abnormalities of the heart or damage to blood vessels.
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Heart Murmurs Average Cost

From 3 quotes ranging from $1,800 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,500

Symptoms of Heart Murmurs in Dogs

A heart murmur can present as a number of different sounds, frequently as a “rumble” or burble, and are differentiated according to which stroke of the heart they are associated with (e.g. systole (filling stroke) and diastole (ejection stroke), or whether they are continuous. They are also ranked on intensity, or how loud they appear to be through the stethoscope, the quality (single frequency versus multiple), and whether they increase in intensity or decrease from the start of the murmur.

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Causes of Heart Murmurs in Dogs

  • Abnormality of the heart
  • Swelling/inflammation of the heart
  • Incomplete closing of a valve
  • Narrowing of the arteries
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Diagnosis of Heart Murmurs in Dogs

A heart murmur is diagnosed by listening to the heart with a stethoscope, and using veterinary knowledge to properly categorize and describe the sound such that it can be compared with heart conditions matching the same sound. Many heart conditions are identifiable with a proper comparison of the murmur with additional symptoms. Murmurs are graded from I (very quiet, only audible with a stethoscope in a quiet room) to VI (very loud and accompanied by a vibration the veterinarian can feel on the chest).

Grading Scale

  • Grade I—barely audible
  • Grade II—soft, but able to be heard with a stethoscope
  • Grade III—intermediate loudness; most murmurs which are related to the mechanics of blood circulation are at least grade III
  • Grade IV—loud murmur that radiates widely - including opposite sites of the animals chest wall
  • Grade V—very loud, audible with stethoscope barely touching the chest wall; commonly the vibration is strong enough to be felt through the chest wall
  • Grade VI—very loud, audible with stethoscope barely touching the chest. The vibration is absolutely strong enough to be felt through the animal's chest wall

Medical imaging, such as MRI, X-ray, or ultrasound may be employed to image and diagnose a specific condition. Ultrasound in particular is a common, low-cost and non-invasive way to inspect a pet’s heart, also referred to as a cardiac echo. Conductive gel is applied to the pet’s skin, and an imaging wand is moved around the area, instantly showing a picture of the heart and surrounding tissue. This can be done in even a small veterinarian’s office.

A number of conditions can present with heart murmurs, such as a valve abnormality, swelling or inflammation of the heart. These can be detected with medical imaging such as ultrasound. Narrowing of the arteries and tumors on the heart tissue may be seen using ultrasound, but are better examined with an MRI or CT scan. These machines are larger and require your pet to physically enter the machine.

Young dogs occasionally have a faint Grade I heart murmur, which does not signify any illness and is a result of a growing cardiovascular system.

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Treatment of Heart Murmurs in Dogs

A heart murmur is an indicator of the condition of the heart and surrounding arteries. Treatment will vary, but usually is concerned with correcting the cause of the murmur. This may involve surgery in the case of a valve defect, or diet modification in the case of atherosclerosis (constricted arteries). Tumors of the heart may require chemotherapy in addition to surgical removal. Sometimes, small heart or valve defects can cause a quiet murmur, but if medical imaging reveals no serious defect, the condition need not be treated for a normal lifespan.

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Worried about the cost of Heart Murmurs treatment?

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Recovery of Heart Murmurs in Dogs

As mentioned previously, the murmur itself is not a condition and outlooks will vary based on the treatment. In general, checkups will be require to monitor the response to treatment and ensure the murmur has not changed or intensified.

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Heart Murmurs Average Cost

From 3 quotes ranging from $1,800 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,500

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Heart Murmurs Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Goldendoodle

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Six Months

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

I was told yesterday that my dog has a heart murmur and slightly low platelet counts. I was given a referral to a cardiologist. I am unfortunately going out of the country for the next month- I leave in two days and cannot get an appointment for my dog before then. Can this appointment wait for one month? My dog is showing no signs of lethargy, coughing, pallor, etc. Or should I take her in for an emergency appointment before I go- if it cannot wait?

Nov. 18, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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0 Recommendations

It is hard to know and to stay safe we should get a diagnosis before delaying any appointment or treatment as there are many possible explanation for these results. It may be that your dog deteriorates quickly (depending on the underlying issue), or they could remain completely stable. We just don't have enough information to make a call at this point. It would also depend on the grade / severity of the heart murmur.

Nov. 18, 2020

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American Bulldog

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Twelve Weeks

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3 found helpful

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3 found helpful

Has Symptoms

None

We took our 12 week old puppy that we just adopted to the vet and she was diagnosed with a stage 6 heart murmur. It wasn’t on her paperwork that we received from her 8 week check up. Could they have missed it or did they just not tell us? We have to take her to a cardiologist and get testing done and possibly surgery. Is there a way that the vet misdiagnosed her? Also, what is the typical cost for a heart surgery and initial exam?

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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3 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. That would be difficult to mis-diagnose, and I suspect at her first check up, they may not have listened to her heart. Most initial examinations with specialists are around 100.00, and they would be able to give you a better idea as to the cost of surgery once they know more what needs to be done. I hope that she is okay.

Aug. 8, 2020

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Heart Murmurs Average Cost

From 3 quotes ranging from $1,800 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,500

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