Heart Murmurs in Dogs | Causes and Prevention

Causes and Prevention of Heart Murmurs in Dogs

Causes of Canine Heart Murmurs

Heart murmurs can be congenital (the dog is born with the condition) or acquired later in life. Murmurs can be caused by anatomical heart defects and by a number of infectious, inflammatory or other disease processes. Any of the heart valves (mitral, tricuspid, pulmonic, aortic) can be associated with heart murmurs. These valves can be affected by endocardiosis, endocarditis, valvular stenosis or dysplasia, with characteristic heart murmurs accompanying each condition. Endocardiosis is a common cause of canine cardiac disease and is characterized by chronic thickening of the free edges of the heart valves, causing anything from minor leakage to severe malfunction. Endocarditis is an inflammatory change of the tissues lining the heart chambers and valves. Stenosis is a narrowing or constriction of a body passageway (such as an artery or vein) that causes increased turbulence at the affected area. Dysplasia simply means an abnormality of development, such as some alteration in size, shape, organization or structure. Characteristic murmurs usually accompany each of these conditions and can be detected by skilled veterinarians through auscultation, when listening to amplified heart sounds through a stethoscope.

Other causes of heart murmurs include atrial or ventricular septal defects (basically, a hole or tear in the interior wall separating the heart chambers); patent ductus arteriosus (a failure to close of an important blood passageway in the fetal heart); cardiomyopathy (primary disease of the heart muscle); heartworm infection (a serious parasitic disease); Tetralogy of Fallot (a congenital heart defect that combines four distinct structural anomalies); hyperthyroidism; and anemia, among others.

Preventing Heart Murmurs

A heart murmur is a clinical finding that cannot be prevented in the normal sense of that term. The underlying cause of the murmur must be found for resolution to be possible. Many heart murmurs will never require medical or surgical management, even if they are very pronounced. Minor murmurs can often be managed with exercise and/or dietary change. Surgical procedures may be available for dogs with more serious heart conditions causing their murmurs. Again, the murmur itself is not preventable or treatable. It is simply a sound that a veterinarian can detect when listening to the heart sounds during a physical examination.

Special Notes

If a veterinarian detects a heart murmur, she will likely recommend advanced diagnostic testing through use of an electrocardiogram (an EKG/ECG). The dog may be referred to a veterinary cardiology specialist to perform this testing. The prognosis for dogs with heart murmurs depends almost entirely on the nature and severity of the underlying cause of the condition. A murmur, by itself, is not necessarily a reflection of any illness or disease.

Source: PetWave

MATCHING TOPICS OF INTEREST

Kennel Cough in Dogs

Kennel Cough in Dogs: Learn about Kennel Cough, including how it can affect your dog,...

Hypothyroidism in Dogs

Hypothyroidism in Dogs: Learn about Hypothyroidism, including how it can affect your dog, and what...

Coonhound Paralysis

Coonhound Paralysis in Dogs: Learn about Coonhound Paralysis, including how it can affect your dog,...

Epilepsy in Dogs

Epilepsy in Dogs: Learn about Epilepsy, including how it can affect your dog, and what...

Dog Warts (Fibropapillomas)

Warts in Dogs: Learn about Warts, including how they can affect your dog, and what...

PETWAVE: POPULAR TOPICS

Dog Health Dog Health
Learn about the most common diseases affecting dogs
Puppy Training Getting a Puppy
A new puppy in the house can cause quite a whirlwind of excitement
Dog Breeds List of Dog Breeds
Comprehensive list of dog breeds with specific breed information

Find a Dog Breed?

With so many dog breeds to choose from, sometime it's easier to seach based on certain characterisitcs.

Caring for your Dog?

There is more to caring for your dog than just feeding it. Find out all you need to know to make sure your pet stays healthy.

Training your Dog?

A dog's behavior plays a key role in making a great pet. Training your dog makes a happier dog, and you will be happier too.

Ask a vet?

Have a question?
Ask a Vet Online NowSM

About Us | Review Board | Badges | Tell a Friend | Bookmark this Page | Submit Feedback | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
Dog Breeds | Cat Breeds | Dog Health | Cat Health | Dog Training | Cat Training | Dog Care | Cat Care | Dog Nutrition | Cat Nutrition

Advertise on petwave.com - A Pet360 Media Network Partner

Become a Fan of Petwave.com on Facebook Become a Fan on Facebook Follow PetWave.com on Twitter Follow PetWave.com on Twitter Email Friend about Petwave.com Tell your friends about PetWave

© 2014 PetWave Corporation. All rights reserved
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a veterinarian. PetWave disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
For more information view our Terms of Service.