What to Know About Heart Murmur in Dogs

retriever puppy at the vet

Heart health is a very important issue for any living creature. So it’s understandable if your dog receives a heart murmur diagnosis. However, don’t panic just yet! There are a few different kinds of heart murmurs, and many are treatable. Here’s what to know about heart murmur in dogs:

What is a Heart Murmur in Dogs?

A heart murmur is an irregular heart sound as the heart pumps blood through your dog’s body. This noise is caused by a disturbance in blood flow. With a stethoscope, it is distinguishable from normal heartbeats.

Types of Heart Murmurs

The three most common types of heart murmurs are systolic, continuous, and diastolic. These are based on the timing of the murmur. Systolic heart murmurs occur while the heart contracts, diastolic murmurs occur when the heart muscle relaxes, and continuous heart murmurs happen throughout your dog’s heart cycle.

Grades of Heart Murmurs

There are different classifications (or grades) of heart murmurs. Dogs are often diagnosed with a grade of heart murmur which ranges from not very serious to very serious.

Grade I

These are the least serious of heart murmurs and are barely detectable by stethoscope.

Grade II

These are a bit more detectable with a stethoscope but are still very soft.

Grade III

This grade of murmur is louder and often causes some serious issues in your dog. Most murmurs that cause issues are classified as grade III or higher.

Grade IV

These are louder and can be heard on either side of the chest.

Grade V

This grade of the murmur can be heard very easily through a stethoscope and can also be felt by holding a hand to your dog’s chest.

Grade VI

The most serious of heart murmurs, these are very loud through a stethoscope and can be felt with a hand on your dog’s chest.

Symptoms of Heart Murmur in Dogs

There are a few things to look out for that can alert you to a heart murmur. Your dog may exhibit a lack of energy, collapsing, excessive panting even when resting, hacking cough, bluish tongue and gums, and is easily tired out. If you see any of these symptoms, talk to your veterinarian. These are symptoms you should never ignore in your dog.

What Causes Heart Murmurs in Dogs?

There are a few causes of heart murmurs. There are a few different heart diseases and defects that can cause a murmur. Heartworm can also cause heart murmurs in dogs. But there are a few other causes of heart murmurs, too.

Your dog could have an abnormal heart valve or vibrations. There could also be a disturbance in your dog’s heart, such as a blockage or diseased valves. A regurgitated blood flow in the heart can also cause a heart murmur.

Can Anxiety Cause Heart Murmur in Dogs?

Sometimes, dogs can have a heart murmur caused by anxiety. Because their heart rate is elevated, it can cause a disturbance in their heartbeat. These types of murmurs usually resolve themselves, but if your dog often experiences anxiety, implement changes to work with your dog’s anxiety and help them calm down. If they still experience heightened anxiety, talk to your vet about anxiety medication.

Are There Treatment Options for Heart Murmurs in Dogs?

It’s important to know that there aren’t treatments for heart murmurs specifically. You treat the symptoms of heart murmurs or the underlying condition. For example, the treatment for a heart defect or hyperthyroidism is much different from congestive heart failure. There are a few ways to keep your dog’s heart healthy, including exercise, the right diet, and consistent veterinarian visits.

What is the Prognosis for Dogs with Heart Murmurs?

While this condition can be serious, many of the causes are treatable. Some cases even resolve on their own without treatment. Your vet will go over all the options for treating your dog.

This is what you should know about heart murmur in dogs. It can be a lot to process, but if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask your vet. They can walk you through your dog’s specific situation and find a treatment to get your dog back to feeling healthy and happy!