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What is Heart Murmur?
A heart murmur is described as an abnormal sound or vibration heard when your veterinarian listens to your pet’s heart. It is a softer, prolonged sound rather than the short, sharp beat of a normal beat. It occurs as a result of abnormal blood flowing through the heart which may be caused when the heart valve is not completely sealed and blood leaks through a narrow opening that should be shut.
Murmurs affect both young and older dogs and cats. Dogs tend to be more susceptible to heart murmurs with congenital heart murmurs affecting younger dogs and heart valve diseases affecting older dogs. In some animals, a heart murmur is not serious and they never develop heart disease. However, for other animals this condition may be severe and have significant complications. If left untreated and not managed properly, heart failure may develop eventually.
The common symptoms and signs of a heart murmur include:
- Breathing difficulties
- Bluish tinge on the gums and tongue
What Causes Heart Murmur?
A heart murmur may develop as a result of congenital birth defects, anemia, high blood pressure, aging, or other cardiac diseases such as heart valve disease.
Diagnosing Heart Murmur
The diagnosis of a heart murmur is based on the symptoms presented, a thorough physical examination and review of your pet’s medical history. Certain diagnostic tests such as blood tests, chest x-rays, heart ultrasound, and echocardiogram may be performed.
Help for Heart Murmur
Treatment of heart murmurs generally depends on the overall age and health of your pet. A number of medications such as diuretics are prescribed to treat heart murmurs to prevent fluid build up in the lungs, and improve blood flow to the heart. Most heart murmurs tend to disappear with age as in young children, and as result puppies and kittens are usually not treated immediately.
A nutritious, well balanced diet and regular exercise can help promote a strong, healthy heart and overall health for pets.
Tips to manage heart murmurs in pets
Although heart murmurs are not curable, there are certain things that you can do to manage this condition in your pet:
- Feed your pet high quality commercial food that is low in salt or all natural diet without preservatives, additives or colorants
- Ensure that your gets moderate exercise such as regular walks or swimming to maintain health and fitness
- Maintain a healthy weight in your pet – overweight and obese cats and dogs are more at risk of heart disease
- Always provide fresh, clean water to prevent dehydration and flush out toxins
- Make sure that your pet is treated for heartworm
- Visit your vet regularly for routine check ups
- Reduce stress and anxiety in your pet