Is your dog’s heart murmur is harmless or serious? Here’s what you need to know about heart murmur in dogs … Heart Murmurs: What are they Exactly? What Are Dog Heart Murmur Symptoms? What Are The Causes of Dog Murmurs? Other Causes of Heart Murmurs Is A Heart Murmur Life Threatening? How Does a Heart Murmur Get Diagnosed? Murmurs: How They Feel And Sound What Is The Treatment For Heart Murmurs in Dogs? What Is The Prognosis F Many people don't realize their dogs can get heart disease just like humans do or that there is such as a thing as a dog heart attack. This post will explain all you need to know about heart disease and congenital heart failure in dogs as well as CBD heart benefits that may make a life-saving difference for your pet. W
Heart Murmur In Dogs: When It’s Serious
If your vet tells you your dog has a heart murmur, what do you do next? Heart murmurs in dogs can be harmless and may not need to be treated … or they can mean your dog has serious heart disease. As it turns out, vets can’t always tell the difference.
What Is Heart Murmur In Dogs
Your dog’s heart pumps blood around her body and lungs. The heart has four chambers (called atria and ventricles), with valves that separate the chambers. Here’s how it works:
- The right atrium receives blood from the body and passes it through the tricuspid valve to the right ventricle.
- The right ventricle sends the blood through the pulmonic valve to the lungs, where the blood collects oxygen.
- The left atrium receives the blood from the lungs and passes it through the mitral valve to the left ventricle.
- The left ventricle sends the blood throughout the body via the aortic valve.
Normally, this blood flow is smooth. The usual heartbeat your vet hears through a stethoscope is a “lub-dup” sound. The lub and dup are regular and of equal loudness. Those regular sounds mean the blood flows in one direction. The valves close cleanly, with a tight seal. But sometimes the valves don’t seal, so they allow blood to leak backwards. Your vet will hear a whoosh after the lub-dup … and that’s the sound of a heart murmur.
Murmurs can be systolic, meaning they happen when the heart muscle contracts. Or they may be diastolic, when the heart muscle relaxes. But some murmurs and continuous or to-and-fro murmurs that happen during all parts of the flow.
So how do you find out if your dog’s heart murmur is benign or life-threatening? And depending on that answer, how will it affect your dog’s life … and what are the treatment options?
Innocent Heart Murmur
Puppies can be born with congenital heart murmurs that usually go away by about 6 months old. These are usually called “innocent” murmurs. They’re mild, temporary and don’t affect the dog’s overall health. Since these innocent murmurs will usually go away on their own, they’re not part of the discussion below. Treatment isn’t needed and innocent murmurs aren’t cause for concern.
But they’re not always innocent. Some young dogs may have other symptoms that suggest a related heart problem. In that case your vet may find your puppy’s murmur needs further investigation … so he’ll approach it as he would an adult heart murmur.
Heart murmurs in adult dogs are rarely innocent. They usually stem from underlying heart problems.
How Murmurs Are Graded
Your vet should be grade your dog’s heart murmur from I to Vi based on how loud it is. This is the scale:
- Grade I – barely audible
- Grade II – soft, but easily heard with a stethoscope
- Grade III – intermediate loudness; most murmurs related to the mechanics of blood circulation are at least grade III
- Grade IV – loud murmur that radiates widely, often including opposite side of chest
- Grade V – very loud, audible with stethoscope barely touching the chest; the vibration can be felt through the chest wall
- Grade VI – incredibly loud and may even be heard without a stethoscope
But the grade doesn’t tell you what’s causing your dog’s murmur – or even how serious it is. At a lecture to vets, cardiologist Pamela Lee DVM said “The severity of the heart disease does not correlate with a loud heart murmur.” So your vet needs to listen for the type of heart murmur for clues about the cause.
Sometimes the valve problem is mild and won’t ever cause your dog any problems. In other dogs, the leaks can cause the heart to enlarge. That leads to fluid build-up in the lungs, which is congestive heart failure. So you need to know. Ask your vet to assess what type or quality of heart murmur your dog has. They’ll need to differentiate between different abnormal heart and lung sounds … and whether the timing is related to breathing or heartbeat.
Types Of Heart Murmur
Here are the three heart murmur qualities (also called configurations) and their likely causes …
Plateau – uniform loudness. This is usually due to aortic valve insufficiency.
Crescendo-decrescendo – get louder then quieter. This can be a sign of aortic and pulmonic stenosis.
Decrescendo – start off loud and get quieter. They’re usually diastolic murmurs. This type is often due to aortic valve insufficiency or ventricular septal defect.
Continuous – also called machinery murmurs. They’re usually congenital. They’re due to blood flowing from the high pressure chamber towards a lower pressure system.
Which Dog Breeds Get Heart Murmurs?
Any dog can have a heart murmur, but they’re more common in these breeds:
- King Charles Cavalier (prone to degenerative mitral valve disease – DMVD)
- Dachshund (prone to DMVD)
- Miniature and Toy Poodle (prone to DMVD)
- Doberman Pinscher, especially males (prone to dilated cardiomyopathy – DCM)
- Boxers (prone to arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy – ARVC)
- Golden Retrievers (prone to aortic stenosis from improper formation of the aortic valve)
- Miniature Schnauzers, especially females (prone to sick sinus syndrome – SSS).
- West Highland White Terriers (prone to SSS).
- Cocker Spaniels (prone to SSS).
As you can see, these heart murmurs are linked to other types of heart disease. A murmur may be one of the first signs your dog has a heart condition. So how can you tell your dog has a murmur?
Signs of Heart Murmur In Dogs
A heart murmur itself may not have any clear symptoms. Instead, a heart murmur is often a symptom of a more serious heart disease. The first sign may be that your vet hears a heart murmur during a regular physical exam. But if you see some of the signs below, take your dog to the vet for a heart exam. These symptoms all indicate something more serious than just a murmur.
- Loss of appetite
- Exercise intolerance
- Blue-grey tongue or gums
- Difficulty breathing
- Lethargy, weakness
- Fainting or collapse
- Pot belly
What Causes Heart Murmurs?
As you saw earlier, heart murmurs in dogs can be a sign of several different types of heart disease. These are some possible diseases linked to heart murmurs:
- Mitral or tricuspid valve insufficiency or leakage
- Aortic valve insufficiency or stenosis
- Pulmonic stenosis
- Atrial or ventricular septal defect
- Heart wall defects (holes, narrowing)
- Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)
- Heart arrythmia problems like ARVC
- Endocarditis (infection in the heart valves)
- Heartworm disease
Breaking it down further …
Dogs can also get extracardiac problems (meaning outside the heart) that cause heart murmurs. These are functional heart murmurs that don’t indicate structural heart problems. They can be due to improper blood flow caused by …
- Anemia (low red blood cells)
- Hypoproteinemia (low protein in blood)
- Hyperthyroidism (unlike hypothyroidism, it’s very rare in dogs)
Anemia or hypoproteinemia may stem from a parasite infestation … like worms, fleas or ticks. Other types of infection can also cause extracardiac problems. These conditions should be manageable with treatment.
The most common heart problem linked to heart murmurs is mitral or tricuspid valve disease. It’s more frequent in small to medium sized dogs. If this valve disease becomes chronic, it’s called endocardiosis. Often the first sign of endocardiosis is a left-sided systolic heart murmur. So your vet exam may be the first time you know your dog has symptoms of the disease.
Valve endocardiosis can lead to fluid build-up in the lungs … which is effectively congestive heart failure (CHF). This is one of the reasons it’s so important to find out the cause of your dog’s heart murmur.
How To Find Out The Cause
When your vet hears your dog’s heart murmur, there’s a lot he can learn from listening to it through a stethoscope. (It’s called “auscultation.”)
As your vet listens to the murmur, he’ll try to decide if it’s pathological or non-pathological. What he hears may tell him if it’s a cardiovascular problem (pathological). Or he may find your dog’s heart is structurally normal … meaning the murmur is nonpathological, innocent or functional).
A 2015 review in the Journal of Veterinary Cardiology in 2015 gave this warning … “A veterinarian’s ability to make this determination increases with experience in ausculting dogs …” So always get an opinion from a vet with experience in diagnosing heart disease. Ideally, consult a veterinary cardiologist.
Here are some factors your vet should be looking for …
- Whether it radiates and where to
- Systolic vs diastolic
- Mucous membrane color
- Femoral pulse quality
- Heart rate and rhythm
- Breathing rate
- Other clinical signs
- Your dog’s age, breed and size
Diagnostic Testing For Heart Murmurs
Your vet may then move forward with other diagnostic testing, such as …
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Arterial blood pressure
- Lab tests, eg CBD, thyroid, plasma taurine, urinalysis, cardiac biomarkers
Echocardiograms are expensive but highly recommended. They’re considered the gold standard for diagnosing heart disease. Your vet should refer you to a veterinary cardiologist for an echocardiogram. Once they confirm the diagnosis, your dog’s veterinary team will propose treatment options.
Heart Murmur Treatments
The treatment your vet recommends will depend on the eventual diagnosis. If it’s a low-grade, innocent or functional heart murmur, your dog shouldn’t need treatment. But there are some general natural remedies you can give to support your dog’s overall cardiac function. Keep reading to learn about those.
Conventional veterinarians will turn to pharmaceuticals to manage serious heart disease. Which drug your vet chooses will vary depending on your dog’s symptoms and diagnosis. There are many different drugs. They are all drugs with bad side effects … and some drugs may interact with each other.
Even if you opt for natural treatments … eventually your dog may need pharmaceuticals to keep him comfortable. They won’t cure your dog’s heart disease … but they could help manage his symptoms.
Drugs Used For Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
Furosemide, a diuretic to get rid of fluid on the lungs. Some side effects and drawbacks are …
- Sometimes ineffective
- Changes in heart rhythm
- Increased urination (let your dog out to pee more often!)
- Seizures or other neurological effects
- Apathy or weakness
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Dosing must be carefully managed to prevent toxicity
Pimobendan is commonly used for dogs with severe CHF or DCM. It strengthen’s the heart’s ability to contract, and dilates blood vessels. The drug “showed promise in prolonging an affected dog’s life” up to 200 days, according to one 2012 study. Once again, there’s a long list of side effects …
- Loss of appetite
- Low energy
- Difficulty breathing
- Kidney damage
- Balance issues
- Fluid buildup in the lungs or abdomen
- Changes in heart rhythm
Enalapril is another drug used to treat CHF. It’s an ACE inhibitor to treat heart failure and high blood pressure. It may interact with Furosemide. Some other known side effects are …
- Loss of appetite
- Tiredness or lethargy
- Collapse or fainting
- High or low blood pressure
- Kidney dysfunction
- Ulceration of the digestive tract
- High potassium levels
These are just a few of the many drugs available to treat heart disease in dogs. At some point you may need them to help keep your dog comfortable. But there are also many natural remedies that can support your dog’s cardiac health.
Home Remedies For Heart Murmurs In Dogs
Managing your dog’s heart murmur is really about controlling his heart disease symptoms … depending on his diagnosis. It’s a very good idea to ask a holistic veterinarian for help with homeopathic or herbal remedies to manage your dog’s individual condition. Heart disease is a long-term chronic problem that will benefit from professional advice.
Here are some remedies that are good for overall cardiac support. Ask your holistic vet about dosing for your dog’s specific condition.
Instead of Furosemide, ask your vet if dandelion will help get rid of your dog’s fluid buildup. Dandelion leaves are a natural diuretic. And they’ll also replace potassium your dog loses through excess urination. This isn’t true of pharmaceutical diuretics that deplete electrolytes in you dog.
Hawthorn berries have a long tradition of helping with heart problems. It’s a powerful heart tonic that can help with CHF and other serious heart conditions. It can strengthen a weak or irregular heartbeat. It can dilate coronary vessels. Lastly, it may also improve your dog’s appetite and digestion.
Canine herbalist Rita Hogan recommends the following hawthorn protocol for heart murmurs. This protocol helpks balance the heart and won’t interfere with any. homeopathic remedies you may be using.
- Hawthorn tincture: 5 drops twice a day, in the mouth or in a small amount of food
- Hawthorn phytoembryonic therapy, 1:10 or 1:20 extraction: 3 drops twice daily, in the mouth or a small amount of food.
- Hawthorn flower essence: 4-6 drops twice daily, in the mouth or place in the water bowl.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids like fish oil have long been known to promote overall cardiac health. They can lower heart disease risks and reduce chronic inflammation in the body. But instead of fish oil, which harms ocean environments and is often contaminated … choose a safe, sustainable omega-3 alternative like green lipped mussel oil.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
If there’s one must-have supplement for heart patients, CoQ10 is it. CoQ10 has so many benefits that support heart health. Countless studies report it can treat heart failure. Research even shows it reduces the risk of dying from heart disease complications.
You should give your dog CoQ10 even if you’re using conventional drugs … in fact, especially if you’re using them. Several pharmaceutical drugs are known to deplete CoQ10 in the body.
CBD isn’t well known for helping with cardiac issues. But it can have some remarkable results in managing heart disease symptoms. Holistic veterinarian Dr Edward Bassingthwaighte describes one CHF patient whose heart murmur was greatly improved with CBD. And CBD even helped the dog get off diuretics completely. One study in rats found CBD can reduce blood pressure and heart rate as well.
Diets high in antioxidants have been shown to reduce heart disease risk. Your dog’s body creates free radicals every day as part of his metabolic process. Free radicals also come from environmental toxins and other external sources. Free radicals can damage your dog’s cells and even his DNA. This process is called oxidation … and it’s linked to many chronic diseases, including heart disease. Antioxidants help control free radicals and protect the body from this damage. Include some antioxidant foods in your dog’s diet to boost his ability to fight heart disease. …
Garlic is a natural blood-thinner and vasodilator (expands blood vessels). So fresh garlic can support dogs with heart disease.
Caution: Don’t use garlic if you’re using conventional drugs, as it doesn’t combine well with heart medications, especially blood pressure and blood thinning drugs.
If your dog has dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), make sure he’s getting enough taurine. Taurine deficiency can be a contributing factor in DCM. But you don’t have to give him taurine supplements (which are only available in synthetic form). Dogs can make their own taurine … their bodies just need the right food. Make sure he gets plenty of animal proteins in his diet. Feed a raw meat-based diet if you can, and include heart and other organ meats.
Eventually, your dog with serious heart disease may need pharmaceutical support. But you can stave off that moment by using some of these natural remedies.
Etienne Côté et al. Management of incidentally detected heart murmurs in dogs and cats.Journal of Veterinary Cardiology, Volume 17, Issue 4, 2015, Pages 245-261, ISSN 1760-2734.
Caivano D, Dickson D, Martin M, Rishniw M. Murmur intensity in adult dogs with pulmonic and subaortic stenosis reflects disease severity. J Small Anim Pract. 2018 Mar;59(3):161-166.
Rishniw M et al. Breed does not affect the association between murmur intensity and disease severity in dogs with pulmonic or subaortic stenosis. J Small Anim Pract. 2019 Aug;60(8):493-498.
Pierre Serfass et al. Retrospective study of 942 small-sized dogs: Prevalence of left apical systolic heart murmur and left-sided heart failure, critical effects of breed and sex.Journal of Veterinary Cardiology, Volume 8, Issue 1, 2006, Pages 11-18, ISSN 1760-2734.
Jergler, Don. What You Need to Know About Murmurs and Heart Disease in Senior Dogs. Veterinary Practice News, 12 Aug. 2015.
DiNicolantonio JJ et al. Coenzyme Q10 for the treatment of heart failure: a review of the literature. Open Heart.2015 Oct 19;2(1):e000326.
Leonardo BM et al. 5-HT1A receptors are involved in the cannabidiol-induced attenuation of behavioural and cardiovascular responses to acute restraint stress in rats. British Journal of Pharmacology, Vol 156, Jan 2009.
Kaplan JL et al. Taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy in golden retrievers fed commercial diets. PLoS One. 2018 Dec 13;13(12):e0209112.
Gaziano JM. Antioxidant vitamins and cardiovascular disease. Proc Assoc Am Physicians. 1999 Jan-Feb;111(1):2-9.
Heart Murmur In Dogs: What to Expect
Taking care of our furry friends is a labor of love. Pets are a lot of work, and they are also a lot of joy in one furry little bundle. Thinking that something could be wrong with a special pet is a stressful experience, to say the least. Suspecting that your dog could have a heart murmur can be one of those tricky situations. Most likely, a veterinarian will tell you that they suspect your pet could have a heart murmur after listening to their chest. If that happens, it is important not to get too upset. Because, in many cases, a heart murmur can be lived with and managed in a way that lets your dog have a full, healthy life.
Heart Murmurs: What are they Exactly?
A heart murmur is when your heart is pumping faster than it should be, it causes the heart to work harder and for the blood flow to become more often than it should. These sound like extra heartbeats and a trained veterinarian can hear the difference in a normal heartbeat and one that has a murmur.
The heart murmur could be a sign of other medical problems that have to do with cardiac health.
There are three distinct types of murmurs in dogs. We will go over the three types of heart murmurs that are commonly found in dogs.
Diastolic Heart Murmur
A diastolic heart murmur is when the murmur occurs in between heartbeats.
Systolic Heart Murmur
The systolic murmur happens when the systole phase is occurring, and the blood is pumped out during heartbeats.
A continuous murmur can be heard during the normal heartbeat phase
Your veterinarian will likely tell you the severity of the dog’s murmur at the time of diagnosis. They range in severity from one to six levels. The veterinarian will explain to you which level your dog falls in and what you can expect having a pet with a heart murmur. Be sure and ask questions if you feel confused or want clarification about the diagnosis. It is vital to listen to their recommendations and advice to ensure that your furry friend can be as healthy as possible.
What Are Dog Heart Murmur Symptoms?
The symptoms of a dog heart murmur will vary. It will depend on the type of murmur if there are any other health problems and the severity of their diagnosis. For example, some dogs never show any outward signs that they have a heart murmur at all. They may seem perfectly fine all of the time. Dogs with more serious murmurs or underlying cardiac issues may show noticeable symptoms.
Dogs with (CHS) congestive Heart failure are at high risk of suffering symptoms that require a veterinary emergency visit. Pet parents that have a dog with a heart murmur diagnosis will need to keep an eye out for congestive heart failure symptoms as sometimes they have a connection. A pet that is coughing heavily and that has been diagnosed with a heart murmur will likely need to get assessed. This could be a sign of congestive heart failure. Other signs are fast breathing, fainting, difficulty in catching breath, and generalized weakness. They may lose interest in exercise and play, show lethargic symptoms, and have blue gums or gray gums. Dogs that are displaying these symptoms should see a veterinarian as soon as possible just to be on the safe side.
What Are The Causes of Dog Murmurs?
The causes of a heart murmur can be due to underlying health conditions, cardiac issues, and more. Generally, a murmur is an abnormal blow flow disturbance.
A blood flow disturbance can be caused by a valve disease in the heart or muscles and structures that affect the heart. It can also be caused by blockages in the arteries. Other things that can affect the blood flow are defects in the heart and muscles, heartworm disease, and deficiencies in the mitral valve. The veterinarian may mention heart diseases like cardiomyopathy or endocarditis. These are diseases that humans can get, too. They fall under the umbrella of cardiac illness and dogs can get it just as we can.
Many times, it is merely something that happens that no one can prevent. The good news is that many of these conditions are very treatable with the right care and treatment from a trusted vet.
Other Causes of Heart Murmurs
There can be structural defects in the heart that can cause dog heart murmurs. The heart is made up of the left atrium, the right atrium, the left ventricle, and the right ventricle. Blood flow moves through the heart, through the artery, and to the lungs. The oxygenation process occurs in the lungs, and then it flows to the left side of the heart and to the aortic valve. The heart then pumps blood to the other areas in the body it is required. A structural defect in the heart can cause blood flow disruption. This disruption often shows as a dog heart murmur.
Common heart structure issues are thickening and narrowing of valves and blood vessels, a leaky heart valve, a hole between arteries, and a hole in or between heart chambers.
Congenital heart problems can also occur in dogs. This means that they were born that way and it is congenital. There are some breeds that are more prone to heart problems that are congenital than others.
There are a variety of other health conditions and factors that can go into a dog heart murmur diagnosis. A veterinarian is often able to pinpoint any underlying health conditions such as heart disease that may be causing the heart murmur. That is why we often turn to our trusted vet for help in these situations. It is understandable that a pet parent would not know how or why a heart murmur occurs in dogs. Pet parents are not animal doctors. The best thing that a pet parent can do is go to a trusted vet, learn as much about the condition as possible, and become an informed caretaker. Getting a problem diagnosed is up to the professionals. At Innovet Pet, we want pet owners to be as informed as possible. This is because we understand that pets are a part of the family and are as beloved as can be.
Is A Heart Murmur Life Threatening?
A heart murmur is not always life-threatening. In fact, many dogs can live a long and healthy life as though they don’t even have one.
Interestingly, some puppies may have been diagnosed with a heart murmur and then have it heal on its own as they grow. Heart murmur in puppies can heal before they are at the adult stage if they have been diagnosed with an innocent murmur. This does happen sometimes and is something that a veterinarian should tell you is possible, depending on the diagnosis.
There are some heart murmurs that are serious or that are linked with a severe cardiac condition. These types of heart murmurs should be monitored closely and may require regular veterinary visits. Dogs with more serious heart murmurs will need more care and caution. Dog heart murmur life expectancy can range based on the type of murmur that has been diagnosed. However, they can still have a great attitude and a playful spirit. Quality veterinary care and loving pet parents can ensure that their dog is as happy and as healthy as they can be every single day.
How Does a Heart Murmur Get Diagnosed?
Dog heart murmurs get diagnosed much the same way they do in people. A veterinarian will listen to their heart with a stethoscope and will likely be able to hear that something is amiss and out of the ordinary.
Sometimes, the veterinarian will conduct more tests to get a firmer diagnosis. For example, they may want to give your dog an EKG, a radiograph, or other tests that can help provide a firm diagnosis on what type of heart murmur your pet has.
It is important to keep your veterinarian informed on any health issues that you notice. Dogs that have had heart worm disease or are part of certain breeds may be susceptible to getting a heart murmur. Your trusted vet will want this information as they provide medical care for your pet and can have a medical history to reference.
Dogs that are overweight or that are pregnant will need closer watching. In general, pregnant or overweight dogs require more veterinary care than usual. Pregnant dogs that have heart murmurs will need to be watched closely and will likely require more veterinary visits to ensure that she is healthy and that her pups are safe. Overweight dogs that have a heart murmur will also require more care. Your vet may recommend a diet change that will help them shed a few pounds, and that is heart healthy.
Sometimes, there is no indication that a dog will acquire a heart murmur. It could get noticed at a regular veterinary visit. This is why regular check-ups with your trusted vet are important. They can find things quickly and get a treatment plan in place immediately that may give your dog a better prognosis than if an appointment had been delayed.
Murmurs: How They Feel And Sound
A murmur often sounds like a heart murmur in a person. Some distinctive sounds are very apparent to a trained vet that knows what a normal heartbeat sounds like. A normal heartbeat would have the regular flow and rhythm. A heart murmur would be accompanied by whooshing sounds or clicks. Sometimes, they sound like a galloping rhythm or a click. The heart beats can also be slower or faster than they should be.
Murmurs in dogs that are low-grade in nature may not be felt by a pet parent when applying the hand to the chest. A dog heart murmur grade 3 may not be able to be felt by the owner just through hand application. However, a dog heart murmur grade 4 may be able to be felt by the pet parent through the chest.
What Is The Treatment For Heart Murmurs in Dogs?
Indeed, the type of treatment for a murmur in dogs will depend on the kind of dog heart murmur that has been diagnosed and the severity of it. Also, treatments can vary on whether there are any underlying health conditions.
Sometimes, a heart murmur may not require any treatment. Innocent murmurs usually don’t require treatment. But, the veterinarian may want to see them on a frequent basis to ensure that all is going well with their health and that the condition has not progressed.
Congenital heart murmur treatment for dogs may require surgical intervention. The veterinarian will recommend surgery if they feel it would be in the best interests of the pet.
For murmurs in dogs that are caused by another condition, many veterinarians will recommend medication and a diet change. However, this will be on a case-by-case basis and will be unique to the health and status of the dog.
Dogs that have heart murmurs occurring from heartworm disease may have a complete reversal of the murmur with the correct medication.
What Is The Prognosis For Murmurs in Dogs?
That is a difficult question to answer. A solid prognosis for a heart murmur is best determined by their veterinarian. It will depend on a wide variety of factors. The prognosis of a heart murmur in dogs will depend on the severity of the case, whether or not they have any other health conditions, and any other factors that the veterinarian takes into account.
Some murmurs are low-grade and may resolve on their own. For example, a heart murmur that is level 1 or 2 is likely to have an excellent prognosis as they are considered low risk. A heart murmur that is level 5 or 6 may have a worse prognosis. The high-level heart murmurs in dogs are more serious and will require ongoing care and treatment. Of course, no pet parent wants to hear that their pet has a heart problem. The critical thing to do is listen to the advice of the veterinarian and do whatever you can to make their lives more comfortable and less stressful. Following the treatment plans and veterinary recommendations is essential to the health of your pet. It may require life-long visits to the vet and regular medication or lifestyle changes. The best positive adaptation is not panic or needlessly stress out about things that you cannot change. You can, however, do your best as a pet owner to follow treatment plans and become as informed as possible about heart disease and heart murmurs.
Can I Prevent Heart Murmurs in Dogs?
Congenital heart murmurs are not preventable. These are conditions that are developed in-utero, and there is nothing that anyone can do to prevent them. They are usually inherited down the line, and some are common in certain dog breeds.
Heart murmurs can sometimes occur from obesity. If they are significantly overweight, it is possible for them to develop a murmur. This type of heart murmur is preventable by getting control of their weight before it gets any higher. The veterinarian will likely recommend a diet and lifestyle change to ensure that they get their weight down. If dogs are diagnosed with a heart murmur and are overweight, it is possible to reverse or drastically improve the condition.
How Do I Help My Dog With A Heart Murmur?
Helping your dog with a murmur will be a combination of vigilance, listening to the recommendations of the veterinarian, and following treatment plans that are given. Going to follow-up veterinary appointments will be crucial in ensuring that your dog is as healthy as they can be.
Spending more time with your dog will be important for their emotional well-being and as well as for yours. They may get anxious if they are suddenly visiting the vet more or they sense that things are different in their households. Extra one-on-one time with your pet can help alleviate some of their anxieties.
Natural Options For Murmurs
Dogs that have a heart murmur can live a long and healthy life. The right medication and treatment can make a big difference in their overall health. However, natural options can be great for dogs as an addition to their prescribed treatment. CBD Oil For Dogs is a natural product that dogs can be given to help with some of the symptoms that they may have. CBD has been shown to have a tremendous healing effect on pets that suffer from anxiety, cancer, inflammation, pain, and more. Dogs that suffer from heart murmurs or cardiac problems can have this organic and all-natural oil without worry. There are virtually no side effects, and there is no “high.” This means that your pet can have an all-natural option for their health that they can reap the benefits from right away. Pet owners that are tired of worrying about giving their dog something with side effects will be happy to know that this option exists and that it has none of the devastating side effects that other things have.
Dr. Ivana Vukasinovic
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, University of Belgrade
Ivana Vukasinovic grew up in Serbia and attended the University of Belgrade where she received a degree in Veterinary medicine in 2012 and later completed surgical residency working mostly with livestock. Her first year of practice was split between busy small animal practice and emergency clinic, and after two more years of treating many different species of animals, she opened her own veterinary pharmacy where an interest in canine and feline nutrition emerged with an accent on fighting animal obesity. In her free time, she acts as a foster parent for stray animals before their adoption, likes to read SF books and making salted caramel cookies.
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The Innovet Team
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How CBD Can Help with Heart Disease in Dogs
Many people don’t realize their dogs can get heart disease just like humans do or that there is such as a thing as a dog heart attack. This post will explain all you need to know about heart disease and congenital heart failure in dogs as well as CBD heart benefits that may make a life-saving difference for your pet.
What is Heart Disease in Dogs?
There are several conditions that fall under the category of heart disease. Coronary artery diseases that humans are more likely to get from their diet, is not a huge problem for dogs, though they can get it.
There are unfortunately plenty of other heart diseases for them to potentially get. All of these diseases are very serious, leading to diminished quality of life and the potential for heart attacks and strokes in dogs.
Most Common Types of Heart Disease in Dogs
Canine Valvular Heart Disease
Canine Valvular heart disease is a thickening and breakdown of the valves of the heart. There are valves that are between the chambers of the heart as well as leaving the ventricles. When these valves get thick and breakdown they can not close properly causing a back-flow of blood.
Heartworm disease comes from a dog being bitten by a mosquito carrying heartworm larvae. These nasty parasites (are there any parasites that aren’t nasty), multiply in the dog’s vascular system, impeding the workings of the heart and larger blood vessels.
They can grow fast and live a long time, eventually completely clogging the dog’s vascular system if not treated. Treated heartworm disease can still leave permanent damage if the disease progressed far enough.
Myocardial disease is caused from the heart muscle overworking which causes thickening of the wall of the heart. This leads to a smaller chamber inside the heart for blood.
Mitral Valve Disease
Mitral Valve Disease involves the development of a weak valve between the left atrium and the left ventricle, and it usually more common in small dogs.
Canine Cardiac Arrhythmias
Canine Cardiac Arrhythmias are irregular heartbeats that come about because of a problem with the electrical impulses controlling heartbeat.
Canine Pericardial disease involves the buildup of fluid in the sac that surrounds the heart and restricts its normal beating.
Congenital Heart Defects
There are a host of congenital heart defects as well, meaning they are inherited and being at birth though the symptoms may not appear until later.
Congestive Heart Failure
Heart disease can lead to congestive heart failure, where the heart either becomes too thick and rigid to fill properly, too weak and unsubstantial to pump properly, or the valves become so dysfunctional that they cause severe lack of blood flow.
Symptoms of Heart Disease in Dogs
Most heart diseases in dogs will cause some of the same symptoms:
- difficult breathing
- shortness of breath
- reduction or increase in appetite
- weight loss or gain
- swollen abdomen
- unwillingness to exercise
- dry coughing after exercise
- dry coughing at night
Causes of Heart Disease in Dogs?
Sometimes dogs just inherited the tendency to get heart disease. If a breeder discovers one of their dogs has an inheritable heart disease, they are supposed to stop breeding them. But dogs not bred deliberately have no such protections and even those protections for bred dogs may not be foolproof.
Heartworms cause a specific kind of heart disease and the dog gets it from being bitten by a mosquito carrying heartworm larvae.
Obesity and/or a poor diet can cause heart disease in dogs, much like it does in humans. However, obesity in dogs causing heart disease is not very common.
Certain dog breeds are more likely to develop specific heart diseases. It is important to discuss risk factors for heart disease with your licensed veterinarian.
Dogs are also just more likely to develop a heart disease as they get older. It’s not guaranteed, but the risk naturally increases. You should be on the lookout for symptoms of heart disease at this point and proactive about protecting the dog’s heart.
Preventing Heart Disease in Dogs
Educate yourself on your dog’s breed and risk factors for heart disease. There may be particular recommendations for preventing the heart disease they are prone to.
Maintain recommended vet visits to catch heart disease early.
Do not fall prey to the fat dog is a cute dog temptation, no matter how tempting it is. Excess weight can hinder your dog’s quality of life and lead to heart disease.
Be mindful of diet. Dog foods can contain too much fat. Peas, lentils, legumes, and potatoes can be found in dog foods and they can cause Myocardial disease. Grain-free dog foods may also present problems.
As you might tell from the foods already mentioned, human food should be withheld or greatly limited. You could speak to your vet about your dog’s diet in relation to their individual heart health.
Choose a heartworm prevention medication or natural prevention method to keep your dog from getting heartworms.
Outlook for a Dog with Heart Disease
We’ll start with the worst-case scenarios first.
Heart disease in dogs can lead to:
- heart attacks
- muscle wasting
- severe weight loss
- difficulty breathing
- no desire or ability to play or exercise
- trouble sleeping
- leg swelling
- limited mobility from lack of energy or severe muscle wasting
- nutritional deficiencies
- poor quality of life
The positive side is that your dog can live a long and happy life with heart disease, if you catch it early and are proactive with their health.
Routine checkups and preventative measures are the safest way to protect your dog from heart disease and to catch it early.
Second to that, you want to get them to the vet at the earliest signs of a problem.
Some signs you should take your dog to the vet (aside from routine checkups):
- if a dog has a cough that lasts longer than three days
- any sign of shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- a change in behavior
- a decrease in excitement about exercise and play
- shortened play times
- restlessness at night
- a potbelly
- decreased appetite
Diagnosing Heart Disease in Dogs
The diagnostic process may include:
- listening to symptoms
- visual inspection of dog’s behavior and appearance
- listening to their heart
- cardiac catheterization
- blood tests
- urine tests
Treatment Options for Heart Disease in Dogs
Diet is important for improving symptoms and outcome for a dog with heart disease and heart failure. You will need to discuss this with your licensed veterinarian because there is no one diet that helps with heart problems.
Different conditions and stages have different diet requirements. Your dog may need to reduce sodium intake, gain muscle, lose weight, correct nutrient deficiencies, add nutrients that strengthen the heart, and more.
Heartworm treatments consist of killing or removing the heartworms.
It is common for heartworm treatments to cause:
- loss of appetite
- lack of thirst
- muscle tremors
- dilated pupils
One treatment method is surgery to remove all heartworms from the dog’s heart and blood stream.
Some heartworm treatments contain arsenic and cause inflammation. No one wants to give a dog an arsenic-based medication, which is one reason why vets so strongly urge heartworm protection.
When a dog’s heart disease has become congestive heart failure, veterinarians typically prescribe ACE-inhibitors, or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. These treat the symptoms and lengthen the life of the dog by relaxing the blood vessels.
ACE-inhibitors can cause serious side effects:
Long-term use of ACE-inhibitors and using ACE-inhibitors with other medications requires routine medical evaluation to ensure other health conditions do not occur, such as abnormally high levels of nitrogen in the blood or renal issues.
Dogs can be allergic to ACE-inhibitors. They also interact with a bunch of other medications and pregnant and lactating dogs can’t use them.
When fluid buildup is a factor, veterinarians sometimes prescribe diuretics to reduce the buildup.
Side effects of diuretics in high quantities include:
- excess thirst
- decreased urination
- low blood pressure
None of these are exactly bad drugs. They can be life-savers for your dog, if the side effects or other health concerns don’t make it impossible for them to take them.
Medicinal heartworm preventatives are controversial. Many people don’t like maintaining a constant or seasonal dose of a drug in their dog just to prevent a disease, particularly when the drug can have serious and life-threatening side effects.
Side effects of heartworm prevention medications include:
But heartworms can cause permanent damage to the dog’s vascular system and the treatments are at least as scary, if not often more so, than the preventatives.
If you decide medicinal heartworm preventatives are not right for your dog, discuss holistic alternatives with your vet, or seek a holistic vet. Unless your dog has virtually no chance of encountering a mosquito, some prevention is necessary.
How CBD Can Help with Heart Disease in Dogs
CBD oil is one of the most popular and natural ways to manage heart disease in dogs. It may also be used as a way to possibly ease the side effects of the traditional medications so that your dog can continue to use it.
CBD oil can help dogs with heart disease by:
- decreasing inflammation
- managing pain
- calming anxiety
- reducing the frequency and severity of seizures
- potentially protecting the heart itself from arrhythmias and infarctions
- protecting the brain from and repairing brain damage
- reducing nausea
- improving appetite
- helping them sleep
- replacing nutrients
Risks Associated with CBD Oil
CBD oil poses few concerns. There is no known instance of a CBD oil overdose. if you give a dog too much CBD oil, they may experience side effects such as sedation, loss of appetite, or diarrhea.
CBD oil does alter how the dog’s liver absorbs medications, so their vet should know that they are being given CBD oil so they can dose any other medications accordingly.
The science is new regarding CBD oil, so no one is as familiar with the effectiveness or the risks as they are with traditional medications.
It makes a safe and alternative treatment for heart disease should the dog not respond to traditional medications, not being able to take traditional medications, or need relief from the side effects of traditional medications in order to continue taking them.
It is wise to keep your dog’s vet abreast of your use of CBD oil to ensure it is doing for your dog what you’re purchasing it for.
Using CBD Oil
The first step is to find a CBD oil product for pets.
CBD oil comes in several forms for pets to suit your needs and their tastes:
- oil tinctures
- extract concentrates
Treats are the most fun and therefore the easiest to get in a dog. If your dog hates taking medicine, these may be the way to go. They come in both crunchy and chewy forms to suit each individual doggy’s taste buds.
Oil tinctures are also pretty easy as they are often flavored and come in a convenient liquid form that can be administered by drops or sprays. Your dog may take this fine directly by mouth or you may apply it to their food.
Some tinctures are not flavored. If your dog doesn’t like them, you can always add it to a food that can mask the distinctive hemp taste. Tinctures offer the greatest control for varying doses, particularly ones with droppers.
Extract concentrates are like oil tinctures except that they are just CBD oil and come out in thick little beads. You can measure the number of drops to get the dose you want. These also can be given directly by mouth or applied to food.
Capsules eliminate any taste concerns and are easy to give to dogs who are tolerant of the powder in the pills.
Dosing CBD Oil
Some CBD oil products, like capsules and treats will have a certain dose per capsule or treat stated on the product packaging. You can increase the dosage as needed by giving another capsule or treat.
Other CBD oil products tell you how much cannabidiol is in one measurement of the product, a drop, spray, or bead. You then measure out how many of these to give to reach the dose desired.
Research the suggested dose of CBD for the dog’s ailment, whether it is the heart condition itself, to sleep, to improve digestion, etc. Then start with the lowest recommended dose and work up in increments to whatever achieves results for your dog.
It’s important to increase gradually, otherwise you won’t be able to accurately judge the effectiveness of the dose. Cannabidiol begins working immediately, but the full effects may not appear for a few weeks.
It would be needless to increase the dose before this time, unless the dog’s ailment is so dire or they are in so much pain that they can’t wait.
You can gradually increase their dose in as short a time as two days or use CBD oil with another treatment until the full effects can be seen.
Do be aware that very small, large, young, old, or sick dogs require different dosages. Consult a vet or our cbd dosing guide for specific dosing for the individual dog.
Purchasing CBD Oil
Before purchasing CBD oil, you’ll need to know some things to look for.
Full-spectrum vs CBD isolate
When it comes to full spectrum vs CBD isolate, it’s important to note their differences and what might work best for your needs. Full-spectrum CBD oil contains other cannabinoids, terpenes, and nutrients found in the hemp plant while CBD isolate is just cannabidiol. Most people actually prefer full-spectrum, attracted to the additional benefits, but some people say CBD isolate works best for their needs.
The choice of which one to start with is up to you, but if your dog has a digestive symptom, they may gain additional benefits from the nutrients in full-spectrum CBD oil.
Some CBD oil manufacturers are, tragically, not what they claim. The ones who are reputable prove this by providing third-party lab test results showing what is in their products and what is not. This way you know you’re buying what you think you’re buying.
You should check the website for the CBD oil product to see where the manufacturer says they acquired their CBD oil or hemp. Some grow it themselves while others get the CBD oil from someone else. Both are okay as long as they say it was grown in a country with safe growing regulations.
Some extraction methods are better than others, like the CO2 extraction method. Choose it. It’s the safest and purest.
Select a CBD oil product that contains as few ingredients as possible and only ones that are necessary and safe. You should very easily be able to find natural and organic CBD oil products as well.
Innovations from Innovet
Innovet creates scientifically-backed CBD oil products for dogs and cats to treat and provide relief for hard-to-treat ailments like heart disease in dogs. We understand that hard-to-treat means there are many niches to fill and many unique pet cases to address, so if your dog can’t be helped with the CBD oil products that are already on the market, let us know so we can see if we can help your dog.
Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM was raised in north Louisiana. She graduated from LA Tech in 2011 with a degree in animal science. She then moved to Grenada West Indies for veterinary school. She completed her clinical year at Louisiana State University and graduated in 2015 from St. George’s University. Since veterinary school she has been working at a small animal and exotic veterinary clinic in east Texas, where she has experience treating all species that walk in the hospital. In her free time, she likes to travel with her husband Greg, bake yummy desserts and spend time with her 4-legged fur kids, a dog Ruby, a cat Oliver James “OJ”, a rabbit BamBam and a tortoise MonkeyMan.
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P.S. We Love You!
The Innovet Team
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