Heart Murmurs

Heart Murmurs

Anytime your pet is here in the hospital to be seen by a doctor, a physical exam will be performed. This will include a veterinarian using a stethoscope to listen to your pet’s heart and lungs. Any abnormalities heard will be noted and discussed. Sometimes, a heart murmur will be heard and identified.


So, your pet has been diagnosed with a heart murmur. What does that mean?


A heart murmur is caused by unstable blood flow in the heart, or in other words, by leaky heart valves.  According to our Dr. Louise Barrett, some pets are born with an abnormality in their heart that leads to a heart murmur. More frequently, however, animals develop heart murmurs with age. Not all heart murmurs sound the same or progress the same. You may hear us describe the murmur as a Grade I – VI, with Grade I being a quiet and more minor murmur in comparison to the louder, more readily identified Grades.


We try to monitor our pets with murmurs closely and note any significant changes. If your pet has a murmur, we always take that into consideration during procedures and adjust treatment and protocol accordingly. Your veterinarian may recommend additional testing such as radiographs (x-rays), EKG’s, or bloodwork.


If your pet is coughing, tiring easily, breathing hard, or losing weight a visit with one of our doctors would be warranted. We can examine them for a progressed murmur and/or possible heart disease. A number of medications are available to manage heart disease and its symptoms.