Heart Murmurs

Tags: dogs, heart murmurs, diagnosis, treating, puppies

What Should I Do?

Question Comment 1: This morning I brought my dog in for his annual heartworm test & distempter shot and the vet found a heart murmur. He said he'd probably be fine and we will monitor it, but he recommended either an EKG or an ultrasound. I almost burst into tears. My poor sweet boy. First severe elbow displaysia, now this, and he just turned two. Now don't get me wrong - I know we've had it pretty easy compare to some... his othroscopic surgery was a resounding success, and while we worry about his hips & knees (he's bowlegged) he's a super sweet dog who is loving life with his new 6 year old sister.

I've got two questions.... the first is of course, regarding the murmur. Has anyone dealt with this, and how badly should I panic? Should I get the ultrasound & EKG or just one or the other. My dog loves his vets, but we hate putting him through stuff!

The second is probably subjective (I'm going to try to put it so as not to badmouth anyone in particular and I hope I don't break any rules, but I worry about future pups) - My dogs mother is no longer being bred, but his father is. Question is... should his dad still be bred? When my dog was diagnosed with elbow displaysia and I'd read this was most likely due to the parents' genetic combo, I immediately contacted the breeder and the sire's co-owner. The breeder was initially responsive but quickly stopped responding to emails and calls while the sire's co-owner told me that it was probably our fault because we neutered him at 6 months!!!!!!! Note - the breeder had kept a female from this litter but never bred her, which makes me think it was genetic combo problem between the dogs and the poor girl wasn't healthy either.

My dogs heart checked out fine before we got him, but could this murmur be genetic as well? i.e. could the sire possibly be passing along bad heart genes? I don't know how bad our boy's heart is...but I'd like to save future families the same heartbreak & worry I'm feeling right now. Granted, I expect zero response from either of the sire's co-owners, and my guess is they'll still breed him regardless, but I feel I must at least inform them so they can either choose to do, or not to do the right thing.

Get EKG and Ultrasound

Comment 2: The EKG and ultrasound will be able to distinguish between a SA S murmur (unfixable) or a PDA (fixable). So if you want to find out which it is definitively, then you'll want the tests done. And pray it's a PDA, as that is surgically fixable.

Too many dogs with hip, elbow, and heart problems

Comment 4: I usually don't speak out about things I read on the list I just use the information for myself but, I just can't believe all the people who have gotten dogs ,puppies with hip, heart and elbow etc. problems. Where are these dogs coming from, doesn't anyone inquire about the past litters or go back to breeders. I am reading about all the huge surgery people are doing for their animals an in the first place this shouldn't be happening in so many puppies. It is a sad thing that a novas family should go through such heart ache and expense.

Health Problems Develop over Time

Comment 5: There are some heart problems that can develop over time., unlike SAS which the pups can be born with. I learned of something called DCM and when I asked a board certified cardiologist about it, he said that it could show up even though it wasn't found earlier with ultrasound and other tests. Maine Coon cats have something similar and breeders will have their breeding cats checked every year by a board certified cardiologist before having them bred.

Heart Murmur Can be Treated

Comment 6: A heart murmur is NOT a death sentence. Many are innocent murmurs although they may be a sign that something is not right. They do appear as a dog (or humans too) get older. Too really know what is going on,you need have Elwood evaluated by a cardiologist. Neither an EKG or ultrasound are tests that are hard the dog. There should be no need for anesthesia. I have had these tests done on several dogs over the years. Many problems may only require monitoring or medication, or possibly some activity restriction as the dog gets older. While there a belief that many orthopedic and cardiac problems are genetic - there is no real proof that they are nor is there any test that you can do that will conclusively prove a genetic. Some of these problem can be congenital. We test our dogs for health problems, hoping that if the parents are ok - their puppies will be but it is no guarantee - all we are doing is HOPEFULLY putting the odds in the breeders favor that they will produce health puppies. The only thing we can guarantee not producing is cystinuria - that there is a DNA test for. Get a doppler done, by a board certified Cardiologist. Don't even bother with a general Vet, you want conclusive answers. It will help put your mind at ease on what your dealing with. Be sure you know for sure what your dealing with before things get too far. Given that your boy has already undergone a surgery for elbow, I'm suprised they didn't find a murmur then. PDA is fixable only IF they survive the surgery! The older the dog the more dangerous it is to tie off the vessel without is bursting.

Dogs and Cats both Have Heart Murmurs

Comment 7: As for the heart murmur, I did have a cat with a heart murmur. He lived to be 18 years old. And dear German Shepherd, Barney, had a heart murmur and severe heartworm infestation when he showed up in my yard and stayed. After the treatment for heartworm, good diet, love, and being treated like a dog, Barney did fine. He lived to be 14 1/2 - a good age for a dog with his rough start.

Don't panic, get the test's done and find out what you are dealing with. Go to experts! Ask lots of questions and get all the info you can. This is not a death sentence by any means. I have 2 heart newfs both with severe issues however they lead a very normal happy and healthy life. Abby was successfully spayed and I swear if you didn't know she had the heart issue you would never know the way she races around. Ollie is much more severe however he to was successfully neutered and made it through a luxating patella surgery. The cardiologist @ Cornell said that she has seen heart newfs live to be 10+ years! My heart babies are allowed to run and play just like the other dogs I just monitor their play to make sure it doesn't get out of hand. Both of them are rescues and if memory serves me correctly neither of them were expected to make it past a year. Abbey will be 2 in May and Ollie was a year in December and both are doing great.

Heart Murmur Information

Comment 8: I have two heart dogs from two different lines and from parents that have cardio clearances. One was diagnosed as a pup with pulmonary stenosis and we opted not to euthanize so we kept her, she is on Atenolol daily. The other cleared as pup but as two year old showed arrhythmia's, diagnosis is possible cardio myopthy(sp?), no meds as yet. Both are otherwise healthy dogs that show no signs of illness. I allow them to be dogs and have fun with the pack and hopefully they will be with us for a while. When their times comes I will at least know they were given the time to live a wonderful, loving life.

There are a lot of things that could be wrong. It's very unlikely to be a PDA at age 2. Was his heart cleared by a cardiologist when he was a puppy? If it was, it's unlikely to be something he was born with like a PDA or a VSD. SAS on the other hand, can develop over time. There are other things that can create heart problems - viruses, infections, etc. Cardiomyopathy is another possibility. Some of these are genetic and some aren't. Some murmurs are innocent, some are so minor that they will never cause a problem. Some are indicative of something more serious. What you need is a cardiologist and an ultrasound. It's a simple test - not painful - and most dogs don't get too stressed. I had one who did get stressed but a little valium took care of it. No one can answer your questions until you get a diagnosis. I can tell you that I have 3 SAS dogs at the moment. Owen is moderate and almost 5. Sadie is moderate and almost 10. Lucky is severe and 9 months. A heart murmur is not a death sentence.

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