Heart Murmurs in Dogs

When a veterinarian uses a stethoscope to listen to your dog’s heart, chances are that the heart will sound normal. However, in some cases, a veterinarian may hear an abnormality such as a heart murmur.

Sonya Wesselowski, a clinical assistant professor of cardiology at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, said heart murmurs are abnormal heart sounds caused by turbulent or rapid blood flow within the heart. In dogs, heart murmurs are usually the result of a leaky or narrowed heart valve.

Heart murmurs are not always a cause for concern. Wesselowski said that some soft heart murmurs could be normal in growing puppies less than 6 months of age. However, most heart murmurs in dogs do indicate that there is an underlying abnormality of the heart. In some cases, the heart murmur could be caused by a congenital heart defect the dog was born with, or due to a heart disease that develops later in life.

How can you know if your dog has a heart murmur? Wesselowski said that regular examinations with your veterinarian are crucial for detection of heart murmurs, as a heart murmur itself does not cause any signs or symptoms. Instead, a heart murmur is a finding that suggests a cardiac problem may be present.

If a heart murmur is detected in your dog, Wesselowski recommended additional testing to investigate for an underlying heart condition.

“A cardiac ultrasound, also known as an echocardiogram, is the definitive test to determine the cause of your dog’s heart murmur and diagnose any underlying heart disease,” Wesselowski said. “Your veterinarian may also choose to perform an X-ray of your dog’s chest as an initial screening test to look for evidence of heart enlargement.”

Even if a dog is not showing signs of heart disease such as lethargy, exercise intolerance, cough, difficulty breathing, or fainting spells, further investigation into the cause of a heart murmur is always a good idea, Wesselowski said. These tests can help to determine if your dog would benefit from starting cardiac medications or if they should have more frequent check-ups to monitor their heart condition.

In general, most heart murmurs are an indication of an underlying heart condition and should be taken seriously. If your veterinarian detects a heart murmur in your dog, be sure to investigate the murmur and determine the best way to protect your dog’s heart health.

Keeping Your Pets Safe During the Holidays


If you have a pet, you know how great they are but also how much work they can be. With the holidays coming up,it can be tough to figure out what to do with them when family and friends come over to visit. You want them to be part of the celebration but worry about them running around and spilling food or drinks. Locking them in a basement or laundry room isn’t the answer. To avoid isolating the family pet, why not try something like a pet gate or a pet playpen.


There are all different types of pet gates out there; some taller gates, some shorter gates, some with cat doors, some for the top of the stairs, and some even have paw prints designed right into them. Some are wide enough to block off large areas like a kitchen or living room. The majority of gates and playpens are easy to set up. Gates can either be pressure mounted or hardware mounted. The pressure mounted option requires no tools or drilling. It’s the perfect solution for temporary use and won’t markup your walls. The hardware mounted option is used for extra stability and security and is a more permanent solution.


Looking for something that works well and looks great too? Look no further. Many gates are available in home décor finishes which add a touch of style to any space. The options are endless. Keep your furry family friends safely contained with an inexpensive solution like a pet gate or pet playpen this holiday season.

North States Pet has a great selection of pet gates and pet yards for any situation. Visit their website or call 763-486-1754 to talk to one of their gate specialists.

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