All About Heart Murmurs in Cats and Dogs

December 2019

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When your primary care vet listens to your cat or dog’s heart with a stethoscope during a routine physical exam, he or she is hoping to hear a healthy “lub-dub, lub-dub” sound. However, heart murmurs in dogs and heart murmurs in cats—while relatively uncommon—make a “whooshing” sound and could be a sign of heart problems for your pet.

If your vet hears a murmur in your beloved cat, dog, kitten, or puppy,you owe it to your four-legged friend to find the cause of the problem. Today’s post gives you information on heart murmurs in pets. We also encourage you to seek the expertise of a Board Certified Veterinary Cardiologist to find out if your dog or cat’s heart murmur might affect his or her life.

What is a heart murmur?

A heart murmur is an abnormal “whoosh” or “swish” sound made by the heart. Humans and animals alike can be born with heart murmurs or develop them later in life.

How can I tell if my pet has a heart murmur?

Your vet will listen to your cat or dog’s heart using a stethoscope.

The heart murmur sound is caused by abnormal blood flow in the heart, such as a backward flow across a leaking valve. Typically, a heart murmur is a sign of heart disease, but it’s not always as bad as it sounds.

What causes heart murmurs in pets?

Heart murmurs in pets can be a result of many things. Some murmurs are minor and require no treatment. For instance, puppies and kittens can have murmurs when they are young that go away once they mature. Other young animals could have more serious problems such as a heart defect that might need medicine or even surgery.

The most common reason for an older dog to get a heart murmur is leakage of the mitral valve, and for cats the most common problem is a thickened heart muscle (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in cats.).

Whenever your vet hears a heart murmur in your dog or cat, further testing is necessary. The best way to figure out the reason for your pets’ murmur is to have an echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart) done by a Board Certified Veterinary Cardiologist.

Is a heart murmur fatal?

Not in itself, no. However, a heart murmur is a sign that something is wrong with your pet’s health. Most heart diseases are treatable and pets can live long and healthy lives with proper care.

Unfortunately, even with expert care, some heart diseases are fatal and can shorten your pet’s lifespan. The main reason to treat more extreme disease is to provide your furry family member a better quality of life regardless of how long that life may be.

How can I treat my pet’s heart murmur?

When your pet’s primary care vet hears a heart murmur, they will likely recommend that you follow up with a Board Certified Veterinary Cardiologist for further testing and diagnosis. We encourage you to follow their advice.

Pets are often good at hiding pain and discomfort, and because of this, they can have serious heart disease and not show any signs at home.

CVCA is here to help cats and dogs diagnosed with heart murmurs

If your primary care vet has told you that your cat or dog has a heart murmur, it’s time to follow up with a cardiac specialist veterinarian like those on our team here at CVCA.

Make an appointment today at one of our convenient practice locations in Kentucky, Maryland, Texas, and Virginia.

 

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