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Dog Heart Murmurs

A heart murmur indicates abnormal blood flow within the heart, which is usually due to a change in the function of the heart valves, but heart murmurs also may be caused by abnormal communications between the right and left sides of the heart. These problems may be congenital (i.e., present from birth) or acquired (i.e., associated with diseases or age changes affecting the heart after birth). Heart murmurs may be benign (i.e., of no concern to your pet's health) or they may be more serious and progressive, resulting in heart failure over time.

Heart murmurs signs and symptoms often include one or all of the following symptoms: coughing, labored breathing, poor exercise ability, fainting, and a bluish tinge to the tongue or gums.

Often a thorough physical examination will allow your veterinarian to identify the source and severity of the heart murmur. However, other times more information is required for heart murmurs and may include an EKG, chest x-rays, blood testing, or a heart ultrasound to determine if your dog has heart murmur. The ultrasound is of particular benefit, giving your veterinarian the ability to actually measure and better define the extent and cause of the underlying heart murmur disease. A specific diagnosis is essential, as some conditions resulting in heart murmurs may be treatable by surgery (i.e., congenital problems) and others may require specific types of medication for a heart murmur.

The only way to treat heart murmurs effectively is to leave it to the professionals- your veterinarian. Once you've identified the symptoms of heart murmurs, bring your dog to your veterinarian for medications and treatment of heart murmurs.

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