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Heart Murmur in Dogs
Have you ever tried listening to your dog’s heartbeat? I have. A regular, fully functioning dog will have a heartbeat that sounds like short, rhythmic beating. A dog with a heart condition will have a heartbeat that sounds like soft, prolonged thumps. If this is your dog, then your pet is most likely to be suffering from heart murmur in dogs.
Is heart murmur in dogs a serious condition? For some dogs, when signs are detected early on and appropriate treatment is given, they can enjoy a relatively normal life for a long time to come. However, in some cases where the situation is more severe, it may lead to canine heart failure.
Possible Causes of Heart Murmur in Dogs
There are several possible reasons for heart murmur in dogs. One is that the puppy is born with a defect in his heart. Congestive heart failure in dogs is distressing but about 3 million dogs a year are diagnosed with it. While it cannot be completely cured, there are treatments that can be done that can help your dog enjoy a good quality of life nonetheless.
Anemia caused by dog parasites can also be the cause of heart murmur in dogs. You must make it a point to bathe your dog regularly and comb his hair with a fine tooth comb to prevent parasite infestation. Mitral valve disease is another possible cause of heart murmur in dogs. High blood pressure, age or compounding heart conditions produce weakened mitral valves. The outcome of this is that instead of pumping blood out like it should, blood leaks to the atrium and the consequence is audible heart murmur sounds. This is the most dangerous cause of heart murmur in dogs and must be attended to as soon as possible.
Be vigilant if your dog gets tired easily, has fainting spells and has difficulty breathing. These are a few signs of heart murmur in dogs. He will not want to eat and move around much. A dog with heart murmur will also likely have bluish/gray gums and have a problem with water retention. If you these behavioral and physical symptoms manifest in your dog, you must bring him to the vet for a check-up immediately.
Tests to Determine Heart Murmur in Dogs
Aside from monitoring his heartbeat, the vet will also have your dog undertake several tests to accurately determine his condition. Electrocardiogram, chest x-rays, heart ultrasound and blood and urine tests will be administered. Once your dog’s condition is determined, you can proceed to plan out what is the best course of treatment to take for him.
If the case is not to severe, a low sodium and vitamin rich diet can be sufficient. Many times medications like Enalapril, Lasix or Benazepril are used to lower blood pressure and improve heart contraction. For the more serious cases, surgery to rectify damaged valves may be the only option left.
Dogs with serious health problems should not be bred to avoid passing on congestive heart failure in dogs to their offspring. Senior dogs that acquire heart murmur in dogs must be taken cared of well to ensure longevity and quality of life. Make sure to provide a good diet and regular exercise plan for your pet to improve his chances for cardiovascular health.