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Pandora's avatar

Does anyone know what is the recommended treatment for a dog with a heart murmur?

Asked by Pandora (23022 points ) January 16th, 2013

Just got back from the emergency vet clinic and I had to leave my pup there. He is 11 years old and he was having difficulty breathing today. I could tell he had fluid in his lungs. We had to leave him there over night so they could monitor his condition.

He looked pretty good but they think it was caused by fluid his heart. They were surprised that no other vet ever caught it but they said it can get worse with age and just wasn’t problematic before.

Any how, tomorrow he will see an internist and the doc said that heart murmurs can be treated with medications.
He said on a scale of 1–6 with six being the worst that he feels his heart is either a 4–5 on the scale.

Can someone please tell me what is the possibility of a good healthy recovery.

He generally has never been this sick before so I would appreciate any information on the subject and what to expect or ask the docs tomorrow.

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10 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

Take him home and love him as long as he isn’t suffering, then help him across the bridge when it gets to that point. The vet will have to decide if they can get the fluids out of the lungs and heart. The Vet may have you restrict the dogs activity if he recovers.

It is not an easy decision to make, and I dread when I will have to make that call with my 16 year old lab.

Pandora's avatar

Oh, I kind of wrote that wrong. Sorry it has been a long night. I meant to say that the fluid in his lungs was caused by his heart condition. They gave him an IV with medication that will help remove the fluid from his lungs. Before I left he was back to breathing fine again so the meds is working. Plus they put him in a sealed glass kennel so oxygen could be pumped in it. He looked a lot perkier before I left.
However they know what caused the fluid in his lungs, but they have to determine what caused the heart murmur.
He goes to a vet pretty regularly and they never picked up that he had a heart murmur this bad.

rooeytoo's avatar

Fluid would be congestive heart failure but I don’t understand how that is directly related to a murmur, I thought they were 2 separate conditions??? CHF is usually treated successfully with lidocane or accupril or somesuch. Mumurs are usually not harmful. My dad lived to a ripe old age with one.

They are like us though as the body can just wear out. I would keep him on the lean side. Hearts have to work harder if he is overweight. You didn’t mention breed? 11 isn’t that old for a small dog but can be for a larger breed.

snowberry's avatar

I took my dog to an emergency vet clinic a few years ago. The vet said she was dying due to a heart problem, but if we wanted to, he could run diagnostic tests, xrays, and so forth. The intitial diagnostics would be $1000 to start, and he had to have that up front.

I thanked the man, paid my bill, and took my dog to a holistic vet the next day. She put the dog on vitamins and herbs and a special diet, and although she still had a heart condition, my dog lived for 3 more happy healthy years.

The lesson I learned: Don’t believe everything you hear (even if it’s from an expert), think outside the box, and get a second opinion!

Edit: And the total cost of this treatment for the rest of her life didn’t run anywhere close to the initial $1000 the first vet wanted to charge.

JLeslie's avatar

Depends on the murmur. Are you sure the murmur is related to the fluid? I’m just wondering if when they evaluated his heart if they are just telling you everything that is wrong with it, but not necessarily related. Many murmurs are benign. I have always had a murmur, but mine is not mitral valve prolapse for instance, which is the type of murmur you hear about that people need medication before dental work and other procedures. I also have an arrythmia, not related to the murmur. The murmur cannot be observed with an EKG, I need an echo to see it. My arrythmia is visible on the EKG, but easily missed, because it tends to happen only in the evening while resting. So, a full cardiac work up shows a few things on me, but for years my GP said I had nothing wrong with my heart (even though I knew I had a murmur at the time, for whatever reason doctors in FL never heard it, while all my doctors before that always did).

My point is a full cardiac work up could show a lot of things that are unrelated to his situation at hand.

Pandora's avatar

@snowberry They ran several test but they all came up negative. The only other reason he said is that it is usually heart related.

Buttonstc's avatar

I would get a second opinion from a different vet just to cover all the bases.

I had a cat who was diagnosed with a heart murmur when I took her to be spayed because they routinely did ultrasound prior to spaying. That vet and every subsequent vet told me to just keep an eye out for shortness of breath on stairs and such and there was really no way to predict how long she would live.

But Velvet was not the kind of cat to exert herself unnecessarily :)

She was less than a year old at the time of diagnosis. All of her life I was always watchful of her to pick up any breathing problems.

She outlived two other of my cats and and I only had to let her go at the ripe old age of 19 due to an inoperable tumor under the tongue.

I’m sure there are tons of cats and dogs put there with undiagnosed heart murmurs.

You asked what causes heart murmurs and basically they are usually congenital.

Definitely check your pup out with another vet (preferably one who specializes in Cardiac problems.)

rooeytoo's avatar

Ooooops, I meant lasix not lidocaine, good thing I’m not a pharmicist.

Pandora's avatar

Update: He has a huge heart murmur and is currently on heart medication. Doc said the average dog with his problem and general good health will last a year. He has been home for 4 weeks now and is doing well.
@leslie I saw the video they did of his heart. it showed how some of the blood would get sucked back into the chamber where the lungs send blood out into the heart. This action makes the chamber get enlarged.
The heart medication helps the ventricals to expand and discharge more blood away from the heart so that more blood is allowed into the next chamber and flow outward instead of swirling in. He showed me stills of how the flap that closes, isn’t flat like it should be. If it were than he wouldn’t get the back flow.
@rooeytoo He’s a maltese

JLeslie's avatar

@Pandora Interesting. That is what they hear I think when they listen to my heart, the blood flowing back. From high school anatomy class, I think the valves are only supposed to let the blood go one way, but when a valve doesn’t close properly or is weak, the block flows the wrong direction. Probably in a human when it is severe they do a valve replacement with a pig or horse valve.

Sorry to hear the problem is so severe :(. At least for now he is doing well, that’s good.

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