Expert Q&A: Veterinarian Dr. Antje Joslin Dogtopia’s Veterinarian Dr. Antje Joslin answered your questions about dog health, including how to reduce your dog’s anxiety, heart murmurs, the best CBD oil for heart murmur in dogs can shorten their life expectancy and cause dog heart failure. Learn about the different causes and treatments available for you and your dog that had a heart murmur. Heart Murmurs: What are they Exactly? What Are Dog Heart Murmur Symptoms? What Are The Causes of Dog Murmurs? Other Causes of Heart Murmurs Is A Heart Murmur Life Threatening? How Does a Heart Murmur Get Diagnosed? Murmurs: How They Feel And Sound What Is The Treatment For Heart Murmurs in Dogs? What Is The Prognosis F
Expert Q&A: Veterinarian Dr. Antje Joslin
Dogtopia’s Veterinarian Dr. Antje Joslin answered your questions about dog health, including how to reduce your dog’s anxiety, heart murmurs, the best dog treats and more. Watch her Q&A session and see her answers below:
Q: Can I give my dog CBD oil for anxiety?
There is some anecdotal evidence that CDB may help with anxiety. There are a lot of products on the market but currently, there isn’t any good clinical research available as it is still a Schedule I drug. Colorado State University is currently running efficacy tests on cannabinoids for epilepsy, which could pave the way for future research and determine guidelines for its use with specific conditions. In the meantime, there are some good natural supplements like Solliquin and Zylkene that work in many patients with mild anxiety. Since these are natural products, they need to be given for 4-6 weeks before changes are noticed. Prescription products that are used to treat anxiety work well in conjunction with behavioral modification. It is worth looking into finding a veterinarian interested in behavior work or a boarded veterinary behaviorist to make a plan for your dog that would include supplements, medications, if needed, and a training program to work with your dog. If your dog has a storm phobia or other noise aversions there are also great medications that can help. Dogs who suffer with anxiety have many different options to help, but it is rarely as easy as popping a pill or taking an oil. Pet parents need a comprehensive plan that includes training to help your pup gain some confidence and feel comfortable in the world. A great online resource is: Fearfreehappyhome.com. But at the end of the day, always consult your vet with these concerns and questions.
Q: Is it, or is it not, safe to play with laser pointers with dogs?
Laser lights seem innocent enough, right? As long as you don’t shine the light directly in the dog’s eyes it shouldn’t be a big deal, right? Well, this is not necessarily the case. Besides the possibility of a cruciate ligament or other soft tissue injury from sharp turns on questionable surfaces, laser chase may not be a good choice for your dog’s mental health. Chasing the laser light can activate their prey drive, so they are looking to chase and then catch the light, but they are never able to catch their prey. As you can quickly see, this can be really frustrating for dogs. For dogs that are very driven, this can lead to obsessive compulsive behaviors such as light and shadow chasing, or staring at the last place they saw the light. Therefore, it is best to play a game such as fetch where they can catch and retrieve, or you can hide food or treats inside of a box that they can work at getting out.
Q: What is the best diet and wellness regimen to help dogs lose weight and exercise, especially senior dogs with arthritis?
For a senior dog that needs weight loss and has arthritis, the Hills metabolic and mobility diet is a great option. It is a prescription diet and comes in dry and canned food. They also make treats or the pet parent can opt for veggies or lean chicken in small bites. Ask your veterinarian about a good glucosamine chondroitin supplement for arthritis. It is worth looking into adding essential fatty acids as well to your dog’s diet. Again, consult your veterinarian for recommendations. Keep in mind that these can add calories to your dog’s diet so you need to be mindful when adding new supplements or treats to your dog’s diet and adjust feeding accordingly. Your vet is your best resource for more information.
Q: Can I give my dog extra fish oil?
It is important to keep in mind that oils add calories to your dog’s diet. On the whole, fish oil is good for the skin, heart, etc. If your dog is taking NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs), it is important to discuss the introduction of fish oils into your dog’s diet. Overall, yes, fish oil can be a benefit but be sure to discuss with your vet!
Q: Should I be worried if my dog was diagnosed with a heart murmur?
If your dog was diagnosed with a heart murmur it was very likely that your veterinarian heard a “whooshing” sound while listening to your dog’s heart. It is not always a reason for concern, but it certainly can be.
The whooshing sound can be a leaky heart valve, defects of the heart, weak heart muscles, heart worm disease, tumors, infections, or so on. Although not considered normal, not all murmurs are a cause for concern. A large majority of heart murmur in dogs are leaky mitral valves and can be monitored for several years before they require attention. However, these types of murmurs in certain breeds can quickly lead to the dog developing heart failure.
If your dog is diagnosed with a murmur it is always good to have the condition “worked up” by your veterinarian. This would include blood work with heart worm test, chest X-rays and cardiac ultrasound. If your dog has a heart murmur and you see coughing, congestion, change in breath sounds or rapid breathing, exercise intolerance, weakness or “fainting,” gray or blue gums, abdominal distention, or lethargy, you should most certainly seek medical attention.
Q: Is the slow kill method of heartworm treatment effective?
Heartworm disease is best prevented than treated. It is much easier to use a heartworm preventative, such as low dose Ivermectin that has been used extremely safely for decades (even in the “Ivermectin sensitive” breeds).
Heartworm disease can be deadly at worst and cause long-term damage to the heart and pulmonary vasculature even when treated. Consult whenever possible the AHS (American Heartworm Society) guideline and review their protocol on including Adulticide (Melarsomine). If it is not possible to follow that protocol, the slow kill is better than doing nothing, but this is not recommended as the first line of therapy. The slow kill method will cause a lot of further and continued damage to the dog’s heart and vessels.
- The slow kill treatment is less effective than the adulticide treatment recommended by the AHS and may not eliminate all the worms—even after 18 months or more of treatment.
- During the lengthy waiting period, the worms in the dog’s body will continue to damage the heart, lungs, and pulmonary vasculature.
- Strict exercise restriction is needed for the entire time that the animal harbors worms.
- Risk for selection of resistant heartworm populations is increased.
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Heart Murmur in Dogs Grades, Life Expectancy and Dog Heart Failure
Heart Murmur in Dogs Grades, Life Expectancy and Dog Heart Failure
A heart murmur is an abnormal sound indicating turbulence in the flow of blood. While it’s not a disease it can indicate heart trouble. Some of the conditions that can be shown is endocarditis, valve abnormalities, or stenosis. If you hear a vibration or a sound that is coming from the heart it can indicate a heart murmur.
Causes of Heart Murmurs in Dogs
A heart murmur is different than a heart failure, but can pose potential life-threatening risks. Implications of a heart murmur can mean that the heart is having issues can lead into dog heart failure. Dog Heart Murmur can be inherited at birth, but is also known to be acquired as dogs age. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s have a very high risk of developing a murmur.
Dog breeders typical use dogs with healthy hard, but it is difficult to guarantee that dog heart murmur won’t exist or become a problem.
Here is a list of some causes of dog heart murmur
- Abnormality of the heart
- Swelling/Inflammation of the heart
- Incomplete closing of a valve
- Narrowing of the arteries
Diagnosis of Dog Heart Murmurs Can Show Possible Life Expectancy
Heart murmur for dogs is graded on a scale of 1 – VI and is based off of the sound and vibration of the heart murmur. Below we’ll highlight the different grades and a brief explanation of each.
- Grade I: Barely audible a vet would barely be able to notice the sounds or vibration.
- Grade II: Soft, but noticeable if the vet uses a stethoscope.
- Grade III: Heart murmurs related to mechanics of blood circulation are minimum Grade III
- Grade IV: Loud murmur
- Grade V: Very loud murmur. The vibration can be felt through the chest.
- Grade VI: The vibration will be felt through the dog’s chest wall and it will be very loud
Some medical imagine may also be needed to properly diagnose the underlying cause of the heart murmurs. Several conditions can be tied with heart murmurs such as valve abnormality, swelling or inflammation of the heart. An ultrasound can be used to detect these medical issues.
Usually puppies or younger dogs will have a Grade 1 heart murmur which does not signify any illness, but should still be checked out by your vet.
Dog Heart Murmurs Treatment Can Help With Life Expectancy
When being diagnoses with heart murmurs it is usually an indicator that it is a condition of the heart and the surrounding arteries. Various treatments can be used or provided, but usually we want to find out the cause of the heart murmur or the underlying issue to properly diagnose it and treat it. Sometimes this involved a change in diet and exercise . Other times it could be a small heart or valve defects that can cause a quiet murmur, but then medical imaging would be used to find out the serious defect of the condition.
CBD Oil for Dogs and Heart Murmur Life Expectancy
CBD Oil is for dogs is typically used for dog heart murmurs, but not as a cure all medicine. It is a health supplement that promotes good health and a healthy balance in the body. CBD oil is used to activate the Endocannabinoid receptors inside of your dogs nervous systems which allows them to stay calm, have less anxiety and control inflammation. The most important role CBD oil can play for dogs with heart murmur is its anti-inflammatory properties which reduce swelling and inflammation in the heart.
Dog heart murmur life expectancy varies on the age of your dog and the severity of the condition. If it leads to dog heart failure than the life expectancy will vary. CBD oil will not ensure that your dogs life expectancy will be prolonged, but it will help manage the pain and lower the symptoms making life easier for your dog. It is a supplement that will help with relief during this hard time.
Heart Murmur In Dogs: What to Expect
Taking care of our furry friends is a labor of love. Pets are a lot of work, and they are also a lot of joy in one furry little bundle. Thinking that something could be wrong with a special pet is a stressful experience, to say the least. Suspecting that your dog could have a heart murmur can be one of those tricky situations. Most likely, a veterinarian will tell you that they suspect your pet could have a heart murmur after listening to their chest. If that happens, it is important not to get too upset. Because, in many cases, a heart murmur can be lived with and managed in a way that lets your dog have a full, healthy life.
Heart Murmurs: What are they Exactly?
A heart murmur is when your heart is pumping faster than it should be, it causes the heart to work harder and for the blood flow to become more often than it should. These sound like extra heartbeats and a trained veterinarian can hear the difference in a normal heartbeat and one that has a murmur.
The heart murmur could be a sign of other medical problems that have to do with cardiac health.
There are three distinct types of murmurs in dogs. We will go over the three types of heart murmurs that are commonly found in dogs.
Diastolic Heart Murmur
A diastolic heart murmur is when the murmur occurs in between heartbeats.
Systolic Heart Murmur
The systolic murmur happens when the systole phase is occurring, and the blood is pumped out during heartbeats.
A continuous murmur can be heard during the normal heartbeat phase
Your veterinarian will likely tell you the severity of the dog’s murmur at the time of diagnosis. They range in severity from one to six levels. The veterinarian will explain to you which level your dog falls in and what you can expect having a pet with a heart murmur. Be sure and ask questions if you feel confused or want clarification about the diagnosis. It is vital to listen to their recommendations and advice to ensure that your furry friend can be as healthy as possible.
What Are Dog Heart Murmur Symptoms?
The symptoms of a dog heart murmur will vary. It will depend on the type of murmur if there are any other health problems and the severity of their diagnosis. For example, some dogs never show any outward signs that they have a heart murmur at all. They may seem perfectly fine all of the time. Dogs with more serious murmurs or underlying cardiac issues may show noticeable symptoms.
Dogs with (CHS) congestive Heart failure are at high risk of suffering symptoms that require a veterinary emergency visit. Pet parents that have a dog with a heart murmur diagnosis will need to keep an eye out for congestive heart failure symptoms as sometimes they have a connection. A pet that is coughing heavily and that has been diagnosed with a heart murmur will likely need to get assessed. This could be a sign of congestive heart failure. Other signs are fast breathing, fainting, difficulty in catching breath, and generalized weakness. They may lose interest in exercise and play, show lethargic symptoms, and have blue gums or gray gums. Dogs that are displaying these symptoms should see a veterinarian as soon as possible just to be on the safe side.
What Are The Causes of Dog Murmurs?
The causes of a heart murmur can be due to underlying health conditions, cardiac issues, and more. Generally, a murmur is an abnormal blow flow disturbance.
A blood flow disturbance can be caused by a valve disease in the heart or muscles and structures that affect the heart. It can also be caused by blockages in the arteries. Other things that can affect the blood flow are defects in the heart and muscles, heartworm disease, and deficiencies in the mitral valve. The veterinarian may mention heart diseases like cardiomyopathy or endocarditis. These are diseases that humans can get, too. They fall under the umbrella of cardiac illness and dogs can get it just as we can.
Many times, it is merely something that happens that no one can prevent. The good news is that many of these conditions are very treatable with the right care and treatment from a trusted vet.
Other Causes of Heart Murmurs
There can be structural defects in the heart that can cause dog heart murmurs. The heart is made up of the left atrium, the right atrium, the left ventricle, and the right ventricle. Blood flow moves through the heart, through the artery, and to the lungs. The oxygenation process occurs in the lungs, and then it flows to the left side of the heart and to the aortic valve. The heart then pumps blood to the other areas in the body it is required. A structural defect in the heart can cause blood flow disruption. This disruption often shows as a dog heart murmur.
Common heart structure issues are thickening and narrowing of valves and blood vessels, a leaky heart valve, a hole between arteries, and a hole in or between heart chambers.
Congenital heart problems can also occur in dogs. This means that they were born that way and it is congenital. There are some breeds that are more prone to heart problems that are congenital than others.
There are a variety of other health conditions and factors that can go into a dog heart murmur diagnosis. A veterinarian is often able to pinpoint any underlying health conditions such as heart disease that may be causing the heart murmur. That is why we often turn to our trusted vet for help in these situations. It is understandable that a pet parent would not know how or why a heart murmur occurs in dogs. Pet parents are not animal doctors. The best thing that a pet parent can do is go to a trusted vet, learn as much about the condition as possible, and become an informed caretaker. Getting a problem diagnosed is up to the professionals. At Innovet Pet, we want pet owners to be as informed as possible. This is because we understand that pets are a part of the family and are as beloved as can be.
Is A Heart Murmur Life Threatening?
A heart murmur is not always life-threatening. In fact, many dogs can live a long and healthy life as though they don’t even have one.
Interestingly, some puppies may have been diagnosed with a heart murmur and then have it heal on its own as they grow. Heart murmur in puppies can heal before they are at the adult stage if they have been diagnosed with an innocent murmur. This does happen sometimes and is something that a veterinarian should tell you is possible, depending on the diagnosis.
There are some heart murmurs that are serious or that are linked with a severe cardiac condition. These types of heart murmurs should be monitored closely and may require regular veterinary visits. Dogs with more serious heart murmurs will need more care and caution. Dog heart murmur life expectancy can range based on the type of murmur that has been diagnosed. However, they can still have a great attitude and a playful spirit. Quality veterinary care and loving pet parents can ensure that their dog is as happy and as healthy as they can be every single day.
How Does a Heart Murmur Get Diagnosed?
Dog heart murmurs get diagnosed much the same way they do in people. A veterinarian will listen to their heart with a stethoscope and will likely be able to hear that something is amiss and out of the ordinary.
Sometimes, the veterinarian will conduct more tests to get a firmer diagnosis. For example, they may want to give your dog an EKG, a radiograph, or other tests that can help provide a firm diagnosis on what type of heart murmur your pet has.
It is important to keep your veterinarian informed on any health issues that you notice. Dogs that have had heart worm disease or are part of certain breeds may be susceptible to getting a heart murmur. Your trusted vet will want this information as they provide medical care for your pet and can have a medical history to reference.
Dogs that are overweight or that are pregnant will need closer watching. In general, pregnant or overweight dogs require more veterinary care than usual. Pregnant dogs that have heart murmurs will need to be watched closely and will likely require more veterinary visits to ensure that she is healthy and that her pups are safe. Overweight dogs that have a heart murmur will also require more care. Your vet may recommend a diet change that will help them shed a few pounds, and that is heart healthy.
Sometimes, there is no indication that a dog will acquire a heart murmur. It could get noticed at a regular veterinary visit. This is why regular check-ups with your trusted vet are important. They can find things quickly and get a treatment plan in place immediately that may give your dog a better prognosis than if an appointment had been delayed.
Murmurs: How They Feel And Sound
A murmur often sounds like a heart murmur in a person. Some distinctive sounds are very apparent to a trained vet that knows what a normal heartbeat sounds like. A normal heartbeat would have the regular flow and rhythm. A heart murmur would be accompanied by whooshing sounds or clicks. Sometimes, they sound like a galloping rhythm or a click. The heart beats can also be slower or faster than they should be.
Murmurs in dogs that are low-grade in nature may not be felt by a pet parent when applying the hand to the chest. A dog heart murmur grade 3 may not be able to be felt by the owner just through hand application. However, a dog heart murmur grade 4 may be able to be felt by the pet parent through the chest.
What Is The Treatment For Heart Murmurs in Dogs?
Indeed, the type of treatment for a murmur in dogs will depend on the kind of dog heart murmur that has been diagnosed and the severity of it. Also, treatments can vary on whether there are any underlying health conditions.
Sometimes, a heart murmur may not require any treatment. Innocent murmurs usually don’t require treatment. But, the veterinarian may want to see them on a frequent basis to ensure that all is going well with their health and that the condition has not progressed.
Congenital heart murmur treatment for dogs may require surgical intervention. The veterinarian will recommend surgery if they feel it would be in the best interests of the pet.
For murmurs in dogs that are caused by another condition, many veterinarians will recommend medication and a diet change. However, this will be on a case-by-case basis and will be unique to the health and status of the dog.
Dogs that have heart murmurs occurring from heartworm disease may have a complete reversal of the murmur with the correct medication.
What Is The Prognosis For Murmurs in Dogs?
That is a difficult question to answer. A solid prognosis for a heart murmur is best determined by their veterinarian. It will depend on a wide variety of factors. The prognosis of a heart murmur in dogs will depend on the severity of the case, whether or not they have any other health conditions, and any other factors that the veterinarian takes into account.
Some murmurs are low-grade and may resolve on their own. For example, a heart murmur that is level 1 or 2 is likely to have an excellent prognosis as they are considered low risk. A heart murmur that is level 5 or 6 may have a worse prognosis. The high-level heart murmurs in dogs are more serious and will require ongoing care and treatment. Of course, no pet parent wants to hear that their pet has a heart problem. The critical thing to do is listen to the advice of the veterinarian and do whatever you can to make their lives more comfortable and less stressful. Following the treatment plans and veterinary recommendations is essential to the health of your pet. It may require life-long visits to the vet and regular medication or lifestyle changes. The best positive adaptation is not panic or needlessly stress out about things that you cannot change. You can, however, do your best as a pet owner to follow treatment plans and become as informed as possible about heart disease and heart murmurs.
Can I Prevent Heart Murmurs in Dogs?
Congenital heart murmurs are not preventable. These are conditions that are developed in-utero, and there is nothing that anyone can do to prevent them. They are usually inherited down the line, and some are common in certain dog breeds.
Heart murmurs can sometimes occur from obesity. If they are significantly overweight, it is possible for them to develop a murmur. This type of heart murmur is preventable by getting control of their weight before it gets any higher. The veterinarian will likely recommend a diet and lifestyle change to ensure that they get their weight down. If dogs are diagnosed with a heart murmur and are overweight, it is possible to reverse or drastically improve the condition.
How Do I Help My Dog With A Heart Murmur?
Helping your dog with a murmur will be a combination of vigilance, listening to the recommendations of the veterinarian, and following treatment plans that are given. Going to follow-up veterinary appointments will be crucial in ensuring that your dog is as healthy as they can be.
Spending more time with your dog will be important for their emotional well-being and as well as for yours. They may get anxious if they are suddenly visiting the vet more or they sense that things are different in their households. Extra one-on-one time with your pet can help alleviate some of their anxieties.
Natural Options For Murmurs
Dogs that have a heart murmur can live a long and healthy life. The right medication and treatment can make a big difference in their overall health. However, natural options can be great for dogs as an addition to their prescribed treatment. CBD Oil For Dogs is a natural product that dogs can be given to help with some of the symptoms that they may have. CBD has been shown to have a tremendous healing effect on pets that suffer from anxiety, cancer, inflammation, pain, and more. Dogs that suffer from heart murmurs or cardiac problems can have this organic and all-natural oil without worry. There are virtually no side effects, and there is no “high.” This means that your pet can have an all-natural option for their health that they can reap the benefits from right away. Pet owners that are tired of worrying about giving their dog something with side effects will be happy to know that this option exists and that it has none of the devastating side effects that other things have.
Dr. Ivana Vukasinovic
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, University of Belgrade
Ivana Vukasinovic grew up in Serbia and attended the University of Belgrade where she received a degree in Veterinary medicine in 2012 and later completed surgical residency working mostly with livestock. Her first year of practice was split between busy small animal practice and emergency clinic, and after two more years of treating many different species of animals, she opened her own veterinary pharmacy where an interest in canine and feline nutrition emerged with an accent on fighting animal obesity. In her free time, she acts as a foster parent for stray animals before their adoption, likes to read SF books and making salted caramel cookies.
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The Innovet Team
Please do not ask for emergency or specific medical questions about your pets in the comments . Innovet Pet Products is unable to provide you with specific medical advice or counseling. A detailed physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinarian are required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet requires emergency attention or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic health conditions, please contact or visit your local/preferred veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.
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