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Thread: The mystery heart murmur

  1. #1
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    Default The mystery heart murmur

    My vets can't explain this to me... but maybe someone on this forum has had a similar experience. My dog 5 years old now. When she was 2, she got a bit of kennel cough, I took her to the vet and in the course of the exam, the vet hears a murmur. 2 weeks later (and a course of antibiotics) it's gone.

    The dog is disgustingly healthy. She's an athletic Master Hunter, actively campaigned, a hard charger. But from time to time, on incidental exams, the murmur is there (grade 2 out of 6). Other times, it's not.

    I considered retiring her (because I thought, based on the vet's findings, she had heart disease) but seriously, how do you tell a dog like that to "settle down and take it easy." And she's never shown any symptoms. And whenever the murmur is heard, it's the same grade 2. A chest film showed an "enlarged heart" but she is an extreme athlete... of course it's enlarged. Oh, and it was suggested I take her to a canine cardiologist for an echocardiogram, EKG etc. etc. but that would have approached a 4 figure number... for a dog with no symptoms. I just couldn't justify the cost. (Am I a terrible pet owner?)

    Anyone ever seen this sort of thing?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Nicole's Avatar
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    Definitely go to a cardiologist for a consult. I'd go straight to a echo with color dopplar (which I do for everything I plan on breeding), but they'll be able to give you options based on cost and what they feel the severity is. I have had two dogs that have murmurs that are audible with a stethoscope, but were determined to be completely benign on echo.

  3. #3
    Senior Member JusticeDog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1tulip View Post
    My vets can't explain this to me... but maybe someone on this forum has had a similar experience. My dog 5 years old now. When she was 2, she got a bit of kennel cough, I took her to the vet and in the course of the exam, the vet hears a murmur. 2 weeks later (and a course of antibiotics) it's gone.

    The dog is disgustingly healthy. She's an athletic Master Hunter, actively campaigned, a hard charger. But from time to time, on incidental exams, the murmur is there (grade 2 out of 6). Other times, it's not.

    I considered retiring her (because I thought, based on the vet's findings, she had heart disease) but seriously, how do you tell a dog like that to "settle down and take it easy." And she's never shown any symptoms. And whenever the murmur is heard, it's the same grade 2. A chest film showed an "enlarged heart" but she is an extreme athlete... of course it's enlarged. Oh, and it was suggested I take her to a canine cardiologist for an echocardiogram, EKG etc. etc. but that would have approached a 4 figure number... for a dog with no symptoms. I just couldn't justify the cost. (Am I a terrible pet owner?)

    Anyone ever seen this sort of thing?
    yes. I even know of humans who unnecessarily underwent cardiac open-heart surgery when it was not needed. Chest congestion, not a true murmur.

    However, I have had dogs in similar situations, and an echo was not that much money. We were talking a couple hundred dollars at most.

    Two of my dogs were diagnosed by cardiologist as having perfect athletic hearts although it looked enlarged to a regular veterinarian.

    I would at least take him to a cardiologist for an exam, show him the x-rays and let him listen year dogs heart to see if he can hear any murmur. You can use his high-tech stethoscope. Great peace of mind.

    Some regular veterinarians get excited, because labradors from the show have a history of tricuspid valve problems. With the dual breedings, You can see it in some of labradors that are run in the field.
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    It may be what is referred to as an "innocent" or "benign" heart murmur.

    Here is an excerpt from the following http://www.cvhs.okstate.edu/index.ph...284&Itemid=389

    A murmur is caused by turbulent or fast blood flow within the heart or associated vessels. Such turbulence causes a “whooshing” sound, or what is termed a “murmur.”

    There are numerous situations that result in a murmur. Some murmurs are benign and are not associated with any structural heart disease. Other murmurs are caused by abnormal blood flow associated with a variety of cardiac diseases, including abnormal heart valves and different congenital defects.

    Soft, “innocent” murmurs are commonly heard in young puppies and kittens. These murmurs are not associated with any cardiac disease and should disappear by approximately four months of age.

    Adult animals may have similar murmurs caused by physiologic conditions such as stress or fever. Such functional murmurs are benign and do not require any specific cardiac treatment.

    or here http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?A=2488

    What is a benign or “innocent” murmur?

    Some heart murmurs are called benign (or innocent or physiological), meaning there is no apparent heart disease that explains the murmur. These murmurs are often seen in puppies, and can occur in cats of any age. They are uncommon in adult dogs. Benign murmurs are usually soft (rather than loud), and can be intermittent. Benign puppy murmurs will generally disappear by 12 to 15 weeks of age. Murmurs associated with anemia or excitement are also considered benign murmurs.

    It may be nothing to worry about but a visit to a cardiologist should put your mind at ease.
    Hope this helps.

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    Senior Member Bridget Bodine's Avatar
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    Find an echo clearance clinic...you should be able to find the price at $2-400 check with some of the show based Lab clubs in your area
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1tulip View Post
    My vets can't explain this to me... but maybe someone on this forum has had a similar experience. My dog 5 years old now. When she was 2, she got a bit of kennel cough, I took her to the vet and in the course of the exam, the vet hears a murmur. 2 weeks later (and a course of antibiotics) it's gone.

    The dog is disgustingly healthy. She's an athletic Master Hunter, actively campaigned, a hard charger. But from time to time, on incidental exams, the murmur is there (grade 2 out of 6). Other times, it's not.

    I considered retiring her (because I thought, based on the vet's findings, she had heart disease) but seriously, how do you tell a dog like that to "settle down and take it easy." And she's never shown any symptoms. And whenever the murmur is heard, it's the same grade 2. A chest film showed an "enlarged heart" but she is an extreme athlete... of course it's enlarged. Oh, and it was suggested I take her to a canine cardiologist for an echocardiogram, EKG etc. etc. but that would have approached a 4 figure number... for a dog with no symptoms. I just couldn't justify the cost. (Am I a terrible pet owner?)

    Anyone ever seen this sort of thing?
    You can also sometimes find a health clinic sponsored at a conformation show where there is a cardiologist performing echocardiograms at a significantly reduced cost
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    Senior Member Chuck Ward's Avatar
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    I needed to do an echo.cardigram on my 5 year old breeding male last month because he had thrown a pup with a murmur. I went to the University of Minnesota Small Animal Clinic, cost was $350. Another clinic in Minnesota was $250 - but I had timing issues and couldn't wait. The pup with the murmur is 4 and he doesn't know he has the murmur - he runs just as hard as his mom and dad. Very happy, otherwise healthy, good looking dog. Get the echo done so you know where you and the dog stand. $1000 + is too much money, find another place that is reputable to do the test. GOOD LUCK!

  8. #8
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    Most cardiologists charge about $350.00 for consult and echo. Many very athletic dogs have physiologic murmurs, which do not indicate any type of heart disease. Contact your local breed club to see if they have a health clinic coming up. Many times they will hav eclinics in conjunction with a breed show.

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    My wife and I have a 9 year old Golden -- Master Hunter and Qualified All Age. At age 18 months we started getting OFA health clearances for possible future breeding. The vet cardiologist said she might have a slight heart murmur but wait and repeat the exam in a year as sometimes the murmur goes away.
    A subsequent exam by another vet cardiologist also indicated a slight murmur and an immediate echogram follow-up showed a class 1, out of 6, murmur -- with 6 being the most severe. We had the dog spayed.
    The cardiologist is located in the metro Washington, DC area – which is apretty pricey area, and the regular exam was about $150 and the echogram was about $400.
    We repeated the exams about a year ago for about the same money. The dog continues to train at a high exercise level but I do closely monitor her – especially on hot days.
    I highly recommend getting a vet cardiologist opinion so you will have a better handle on how much exercise your dog can handle.
    Good luck.
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  10. #10
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    Murmurs are reasonably common, and not unusual to not hear them on a given exam. Soft Grade 1 & 2 are hard to hear in general and if the environment is not perfectly quiet it may be missed.

    Very few low grade murmurs will be of consequence physiologically - basically you would never know that the dog even had a murmur. I would not stop a dog from training, working, or competing based on a low grade murmur without clinical signs. It is never a bad idea to get more information and an echo will give you the most definitive answer as to the source of the murmur. I would be surprised that an echo would cost 4 figures. Perhaps that figure was based on chest films (which you have) and other diagnostics that may not be necessary in an otherwise healthy dog.
    Last edited by jenbrowndvm; 09-15-2013 at 07:05 PM.
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