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Talk to me about Heart murmurs...

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Talk to me about Heart murmurs...
  • I know I rarely post anymore but I am on here reading almost everyday, and this place was a lifesaver when I first got Lex almost 6 years ago. So here's the story. Lex was diagnosed with a mild heart murmur in July, and of course I freaked a little. The Vet didn't seem very concerned and just told me to watch him closely. He already has decreased the amount of exercise he needs and has always had a off and on diet. I attributed his calmer attitude to his hip dysplasia (he was diagnosed at age 2). Well fast forward to today. We went in for his 6 month check up, and the vet said his heart murmur has progressed to severe (she rated it 5 out of 6). I had them do an EKG and she said it was normal but strongly suggested I take him to a specialist and have an ultra sound done on his heart so I know exactly what's going on. I kept asking why she thinks it progressed so quickly and she didn't really give me an answer except he either has a congenital disease that he was born with or possibly is developing heart failure. I'm so confused, and scared kinda. Lex is the love of my life, I just don't know what to do. Has anyone had any experience with murmurs? He's gotten so gray across his muzzle this last year and I feel like he's aging so fast :( ETA - a pic of Lex and Seka
  • I don't have much experience with heart murmurs.  Twister has a very slight murmur that was recently diagnosed for the first time.  It's between one and two. I'm not pursuing it because of his cancer diagnosis.  It's not likely to impact him in any way.  I think you'd be smart to have the ultrasound done.  There are a lot of treatments for heart problems in dogs.  I know I'd be scared too if I was in your shoes but knowledge always helps me cope better, which is why I recommend the ultrasound by a specialist.  Sending you and Lex lots of good vibes and belly rubs for Lex and Seka.
  • Oh no I am so sorry - I don't know anything about heart murmurs but it seems odd that it would so much worse so soon, was it the same vet that did the scan? My friends boxer had a host of issues some with his heart and I do recall that one vet would hear one thing and another would say the opposite. What did they offer as possible causes? You know his mix so is it in either breed?

    I wouldn't worry so much about the gray muzzle - so many dogs gray young. Bugsy's golden retriever girlfriend is very gray (7) and his friend Izzy has a full gray muzzle (6) -we know several others that are gray ages 5-7.

    I love that pic, so incredibly cute!! Kisses for both!
  •  If you want to treat it, and I know there are meds for it because so many cavaliers have heart issues (thankfully Luke did not show up with an issue when I had his heart checked in August) you can find a cardiologist. These clinics are not necessarily limited to cavaliers, in fact, many are offered by other breed clubs, but if you are interested in an ultrasound of the heart, you may find it cheaper at a health clinic. 

    Cavalierhealth.org

    has a pretty good listing of clinics. You may be able to find a vet who specializes in that sort of stuff through there, but I don't know about that so much. 

  • How far are you from your State's vet school?  I typically go for the vet school, but Jackie's right -- you need this truly diagnosed.  There are meds, there are even herbs and supplements.  BUT you can't do **ANY** of that until you know for sure what's going on.

    Heart murmurs can come out of the clear blue sky -- My Billy suddenly had a grade 4-5 murmur when he was coming off the IMHA meds (and his heart was being 'heard' every week and BLAM that murmur just came out of the clear blue!!).  His murmur actually decreased a bit and stayed there forever. 

    A "murmur" according to Merriam Webster:  "an atypical sound of the heart typically indicating a functional or structural abnormality—called also heart murmur "

    Its the sound made when blood is going between chambers not normally.

  • Just an FYI - I am moving this to the Health section

  • Thanks everyone. She said she doesn't want to prescribe meds until he starts showing symptoms, like coughing or getting a pot belly because the fluid is backing up into his lungs and belly. This is a different vet than the one that originally diagnosed it, and I will be taking him back to her and have her tell me if she can hear it so bad. She gave me a referral to a vet surgery center. I am not very far from the two major university's here.
  • kpwlee
    Oh no I am so sorry - I don't know anything about heart murmurs but it seems odd that it would so much worse so soon, was it the same vet that did the scan? My friends boxer had a host of issues some with his heart and I do recall that one vet would hear one thing and another would say the opposite. What did they offer as possible causes? You know his mix so is it in either breed?

    I wouldn't worry so much about the gray muzzle - so many dogs gray young. Bugsy's golden retriever girlfriend is very gray (7) and his friend Izzy has a full gray muzzle (6) -we know several others that are gray ages 5-7.

    I love that pic, so incredibly cute!! Kisses for both!
    He's half Airedale and half staffordshire bull terrier. I meet both his parents when I got him a 10 weeks (first dog on my own) the only cause the vet would tell me was that he possibly was born with a heart defect and its only coming to light now. She said its very uncommon for dogs his age to have such a sever murmur and she stressed the ultra sound.
  •  Remember that your local vet is like a human PCP - a generalist.  You will get more information from a specialist, in this case a cardiologist.  And more testing will be needed such as the one your vet recommended.  Because, while knowing what caused it is helpful, knowing what the situation is NOW is most important to a treatment plan.

    I'm sorry you got this report on your sweet boy.  Sending cuddles to them both, and hugs to you.  It is so scary when dealing with health issues with our pets, they can't tell us how they feel.

  •  I had a foster dog who was born with several heart defects. She had a grade 5 heart murmur. I fostered her when she was a pup until about a year old then she moved to a permanent foster home where she would live out her life. Her new foster home investigated surgery options and the vet said it was too risky so she just has decreased activity and supplements. She has lived 3+ years now with a grade 5 murmur. Something to keep in mind.

  • Freedom

     Remember that your local vet is like a human PCP - a generalist.  You will get more information from a specialist, in this case a cardiologist.  And more testing will be needed such as the one your vet recommended.  Because, while knowing what caused it is helpful, knowing what the situation is NOW is most important to a treatment plan.

    Absolutely agree with this. The cardiologist that Shane saw actually travels to different vet clinics throughout the week because there's such a demand for her services. I would get a full evaluation done. Shane not only has a grade 4-5 heart murmur but a more serious defect, so he's on a beta blocker. There might be medications that can help Lex now before he starts having symptoms. I'll be thinking good thoughts for your boy.

  • This is a good site on heart valve problems:  http://www.2ndchance.info/conghtfaildog.htm

    "Mitral valve, or mixed valve, problems are given many names. Some are acquired mitral regurgitation, mitral insufficiency, chronic valvular fibrosis, endocardiosis and mucoid valvular degeneration. They all describe different aspects of the same basic problem. In these dogs, the two flexible portions (cusps) of the valve become stubby, thickened or nodular and no longer close completely.
    When this happens, something akin to backfire occurs and blood flows in the wrong direction back into the left atrium.

    The mitral valve is a good place for bacteria that enter the blood stream to become trapped – particularly if the valve is already misshapen. I have noticed in my practice that pets with severe dental disease have mitral murmurs more frequently than those that don’t. Dentists have noticed the same thing. I have seen these murmurs disappear in pets after a course of antibiotics.

    Many valve problems result in heart murmurs that your veterinarian might detect on a routine examination. However, not all of them lead to CHF (Congestive Heart Failure). When they are detected, other tests should be done to determine if the heart murmur is something you should be concerned about. Anemia, valve infections (endocarditis), hyperthyroidism, fever and pregnancy can all cause heart murmurs. Quirky heart anatomy can also cause them. When it does, these are called innocent murmurs."

  • Jewlieee

     I had a foster dog who was born with several heart defects. She had a grade 5 heart murmur. I fostered her when she was a pup until about a year old then she moved to a permanent foster home where she would live out her life. Her new foster home investigated surgery options and the vet said it was too risky so she just has decreased activity and supplements. She has lived 3+ years now with a grade 5 murmur. Something to keep in mind.

    Thanks for this. I am feeling quite negative about this whole situation so hearing a nice story makes me feel a bit better. I took him back to the vet that first diagnosed him and she agreed that it has gotten to a stage 5. She referred me to a few places, I called one and they quoted me 400$ for the ultrasound and consultation.
  • janet_rose
    Anemia, valve infections (endocarditis), hyperthyroidism, fever and pregnancy can all cause heart murmurs

    emphasis mine -- given what you sent to me about the changes in personality??  As I said in my PM to you -- and this corroborrates what I said -- JOB ONE is to get the thyroid checked. 

    I wouldn't say that SO emphatically if you hadn't told me what an extreme personality shift he'd gone thru -- that SCREAMS thyroid to me. 

    From "The Canine Thyroid Epidemic" by Dr. W. Jean Dodds:

    "Since thyroid hormone regulates heartbeat, decreased thyroid activity can result in bradycardia (slow heart rate ... If left untreated hypothyroidism can also lead to dilated cardiomyopathy, an elnlargement of the heart's left, right, or back ventricles"

    Chapter 3 of the same book is all about aberrant behaviors (dogs who are suddenly people aggressive and/or dog aggressive is a prime example -- in fact almost all the words you used to describe "how he's changed" are things that thyroid can cause.

    And seriously -- I would send it to Hemopet just to get Dr. Dodds input on it.  You can email HER directly - hemopet@hotmail.com -- she is beyond awesome and you will be SO encouraged emailing her.  FWIW -- I would put this absolutely first.  Coupled with the personality changes you've seen?  Hypo OR Hyper-thyroid are SUCH a huge huge possible and it sure as heck could be the EASY EASY answer to this.

    some dogs get low thyroid as they age -- but some get HIGH thyroid.  (I've seen some dogs who have been hypo thyroid their whole life, suddenly become hyPER thyroid when they seriously age! 

    You can go ahead and MAKE the appt with OK State -- BUT get the blood drawn and sent tomorrow if humanly possible (this is going into a big holiday weekend -- get it to them by the weekend and you'll have an answer that might make your Holiday come Monday.  I can promise it will at least be a bit more manageable.

  • I agree with Callie - get his thyroid checked.  However, I would also do a round of a broad spectrum antibiotic.