A heart murmur is a cardiac problem which occurs in dogs as a result of turbulence in the blood flow. This disorder is mostly found in young dogs. The 'heart murmur' can be heard in the form of blood flowing in the heart and the blood vessels adjacent to it. The degree or intensity of the problem is influenced by various factors such as the physical state and health of the dog. It is generally seen that the murmur in the heart stops as the dog grows up. In many cases, it may also require medications and surgical treatment.
A leakage in the valves present in the heart is one of the important reasons behind a heart murmur in dogs. Mitral valve dysplasia is a condition in which the valve leaks and results into heart murmur. Ventricular septal defect is a condition in which holes are present in the walls of the chambers that pump blood. When a puppy is in the phase of rapid growth, the level of cardiac output is raised, which results in an increase in the velocity of the blood flow. The turbulence that is created due to the rise in velocity results into heart murmur. There many other reasons behind the turbulence caused by the rise in blood flow. The value of blood viscosity becomes high due to anemia or fever. It is also a reason behind the turbulence. Pulmonary stenosis is a condition in which the outflow from the right ventricle creates turbulence as a result of the narrowing of the pulmonary artery. A similar condition in which the aorta becomes narrow is known as the aortic stenosis.
Dogs with heart murmurs don't exhibit any kind of well-defined symptoms. The general symptoms that show up in this cardiac disorder are fainting spells, lack of oxygen that might cause the dog to collapse, a slowdown in the regular activities, and increased panting even when the dog is resting. The tongue and the gums develop a bluish tinge if the dog is affected by heart murmur. The dog might also exhibit problems in breathing, and coughing is also observed sometimes.
Most of the time, a thorough physical examination is enough to understand the condition of the dog and confirm the occurrence of heart murmur. However, a few tests such as a chest X-ray, heart ultrasound, and blood tests need to be conducted. The heart ultrasound test proves to be of a great help as it allows an insight into the actual cause and depth of the problem. Any kind of underlying causes that result into major problems are also detected with the help of a heart ultrasound.
Canine heart murmurs can be either benign or acquired. For proper treatment of the disorder, a thorough examination of the dog is carried out. It determines whether the heart murmur is benign or acquired. The benign heart murmur doesn't need any kind of treatment. This is a minor form of the condition and is treated by providing a low sodium diet to the dog. Medications used for the treatment are Enalapril, Lasix, or Benazepril. Medications are used to lower the blood pressure and to increase the strength of the contractions in the heart. In critical situations, surgery remains the only option to treat the damaged valves of the heart.
Heart murmurs found in younger dogs is mostly congenital, while the older dogs exhibit the condition associated with valve diseases. One of the most common disease in dogs, heart murmur can be cured with the help of proper treatment and care.