The excitement of bringing home a new puppy or kitten is unparalleled, but it can quickly turn into concern if your vet detects a heart murmur during their first vaccination appointment.
A heart murmur is an abnormal sound caused by turbulent blood flow through the heart.
While it can be alarming, it’s important to remain calm.
A heart murmur doesn’t automatically mean your pet has a severe heart condition. They can be benign and often resolve on their own as they grow.
Understanding the types of heart murmurs
Heart murmurs can be categorised into two main types: innocent and pathological.
Innocent murmurs: These are common in puppies and kittens and are usually harmless. They are often caused by the rapid flow of blood through a young and developing heart. Innocent murmurs tend to disappear as your pet matures, typically by six months of age.
Pathological murmurs: These murmurs indicate an underlying heart condition, which could range from mild to severe. It’s useful for your vet to determine the cause and severity of the murmur.
Members of our Practice Plan receive unlimited consultations throughout the year – perfect for pets that need extra monitoring!
Seeking further evaluation
Your vet may recommend additional tests to determine the cause and severity of the heart murmur:
Echocardiogram: An ultrasound of the heart, which provides a detailed view of its structure and function. This test can help diagnose underlying heart conditions accurately, and we may refer you to a specialist cardiologist if we think it will help.
Chest x-rays: These may be needed to assess the size and shape of the heart and detect any abnormalities.
Blood tests: Certain blood tests can help evaluate the overall health of your puppy or kitten, and detect any underlying conditions that might contribute to the heart murmur.
Based on the results of these tests, your vet will develop a treatment plan if necessary.
If it’s an innocent murmur, your vet may recommend periodic check-ups to monitor its progress as your puppy or kitten grows.
If it’s a pathological murmur, treatment options may include medication, dietary changes or, in severe cases, surgery.
Regardless of the severity of the murmur, regular check-ups are important for monitoring your pet’s heart health. Even if the initial murmur was classified as innocent, it’s important to stay vigilant and ensure that it doesn’t progress into a more severe condition.
It’s vital to follow your vet’s recommendations diligently to ensure your pet’s wellbeing.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
Regardless of whether the murmur is innocent or pathological, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential.
This includes providing a balanced diet and regular exercise.
Additionally, avoid exposing your puppy or kitten to extreme temperatures or situations that could exacerbate any underlying heart condition.
If you have any questions or concerns, book an appointment to speak to your vet today.