View Full Version : A murmur.....not bad, i hope...

6th March 2008, 06:40 PM
Hello all, I took my three year old bitch to the vets for her annual booster. When the vet listened to her heart, he said 'oh yes she has a murmur, not the worst i've heard for a cavi'.

The last thing you want to hear as a cavi owner is that. its taken a few days for me to digest what he has said. I am going to go back and have a chat with him, he is one of my favourite vets, he seems quite balanced, he always has been with other problems that i've had with my dogs.

Should i be asking for a referral to a cardiologist, after much searching on the web, it seems to be more of a USA thing - seeing a dog cardiologist. I definitely want to know exactly what i am dealing with here, she is not just a dog after all - she is one of my little princesses. If we go to our GP and he says we have a murmur - we are booked in to see a specialist ? what are your experiences. I will be taking on advice from all you guys - sensible things like excercise and weight etc..

The way the vet just brushed it off like, oh its expected with these dogs, nothing to worry about , if she gets bad we have medicines for her shocked me. I don't want to leave it and find out she should have seen a specialist before, i'd never forgive myself.

i daren't tell my husband, if she has a minor condition with no need for medicines at least for a while - i can't tell him - he will be so upset. i guess we will have to see how we go, but if she doesn't show any symptoms, why upset him too. Thanks for listening guys - its been nice to tell people who know what i am talking about.

P.S. Barbara Nixon, i see that you live in Stoke, quite near to me. What is your experience with this kind of thing ?

6th March 2008, 07:07 PM
I'm so sorry you got this news; none of us wants to hear bad heart news and such a diagnosis is always a concern whatever the age of our dogs. :flwr:

The reason it mostly seems a US thing at the moment is that... Dr Smon Swift, the heart specialist advising the UK CKCS Club, has been very critical of their approach to (NOT!!) using cardiologists for heart testing and promoting healthy hearts in a more active and committed way or incorporating such information into breeding practice (the club Healthy Hearts list even allowed vet tested 'clears' to be listed when it is well documented this is not very accurate; this only changed this past year). The situation is (very slowly!!) improving and some clubs offer low cost cardiologist exams at club events so you might want to watch for one of these.

A cardiologist can tell you whether there's actually a murmur (vets are poor at hearing and grading early murmurs) and give you the precise baseline readings you will want in order to track any progression.

I find the dismissive attitude toward MVD of many vets in the UK and Ireland to be a serious part of the problem with the breed -- so many seem to just accept that endemic heart issues are NORMAL with cavaliers and no big deal. This in turn no doubt gives certain breeders and some within the club hierarchies a kind of passive reinforcement of the attitude that it is just a breed issue no one can do much about and that breeders with experience needn't bother testing if they know their lines (even though ironically they can be the first to note that even excellent lines can occasionally produce an affected puppy! Then shouldn;t they be heart testing ALL their dogs?!). And such attitudes encourage buyers to think they should just accept this appalling situation.

A murmur at age three *is a big concern* -- this is very early onset MVD and I'd expect more compassion, advice and concern from any vet for a diagnosis like this. No owner should have to start dealing with an old dog problem like MVD at age 3! By contrast, if the problem were cataracts in a young dog there'd be a lot more concern, I think! :mad: A murmur at age 3 is like a human having hardening of the arteries at 25.

You will want to get a grade on the murmur (and make sure there really is a murmur!). If I were you, I'd ring the local or regional CKCS CLub to find out when the next cardiac clinic close to you will be held and register for that. Or make an appointment on your own if you want this checked right away. You will want to get an xray perhaps to get a baseline image of the heart as enlargement is one way of tracking progression. But a cardio will advise on best practice.

Many dogs with early onset murmurs do quite well -- some never progress or only progress very slowly. You will definitely want to actively manage him though -- keep him THIN, feed a good diet, supplement perhaps with fish oils etc.

In addition you should contact the breeder to let them know you have had this diagnosis. Any reputable breeder will want and need this information and will want to pull dogs from their breeding programme if they are producing early onset puppies.

There's a really good thread in the Library on managing dogs with MVD.

6th March 2008, 07:11 PM
thank you for your advice, which i shall be following. I thought it was something that i need to actively follow up. Thanks again.

6th March 2008, 09:18 PM
Hmm, personnally I'd be taking the dog to a certified cardiologist myself for a second opinion, sadly I have been told in the past that dogs have a murmur by "ordinary" vets, when on further examination by a cardiologist they were actually clear!!

It is very sad that most vets seem to "expect" a Cavalier to have a murmur before they have even put the stethoscope on the dogs chest :swear:

Speaking as a breeder myself, I ask all my puppy buyers to inform me when their dogs develop any heart problems (Health problems in general too!) it helps with the further planning of future matings, I am trying to help ease this condition within the breed, but if puppy buyers don't get back to the breeders when the dogs do get older and keep them informed it does make it much harder to do this, I would certainly want to know if a 3 year old I had breed was diagnosed with a murmur for certain!!

6th March 2008, 10:57 PM
Joey I am so sorry to hear your 3 year old girl has been diagnosed with a heart murmur I really hope you manage to get more information from your vet or a cardiologist. It must be awful to get that news without your vet acting the way they have. I am just wondering what fish oils are recommended and good brands to buy? I have heard human cod liver oil capsules are good for dogs but is this right and what strength? Are there any good dog fish oils?

7th March 2008, 03:04 AM
This is the post I mentioned, which has info on supplements as well:


I would definitely want a cardio to confirm a murmur in a 3 year old. :thmbsup: Hopefully you will find there isn't a murmur after all.

7th March 2008, 06:59 AM
Did the vet still do the booster?


7th March 2008, 06:19 PM
Yes, Alison - he did the booster first, i had to remind him to check her heart, thinking about it.

7th March 2008, 09:41 PM
A question for those with good solid sound MVD experience.....(always wanting to learn more!)

Is it wise and safe to vaccinate and booster with a heart murmer? I always thought that you should never vaccinate any sick dog? or does it depend on the grade of murmer?

And as for the vet, I think that it's awful that you had to remind him to check her heart, surely hearts should be checked before any vaccination/treatment for any breed/problem. My vet always listens as part of the routine of any visit.


18th March 2008, 09:54 AM

I wondered if I could add to this thread - my cavalier that I got last year from a rescue at age 3 was diagnosed by my vet with a grade 3-4 heart murmur and has been prescribed fortekor. He took x rays and said there wasnt any heart failure at that time. At the same time he was also diagnosed with hip dysplasia and severe arthritis in his hips - poor little fella!

Do you think this is enough or do you think I should try contacting a breed club to see if there is to be a cardio clinic as you suggested to one of the other posters.

Thanks for your help


21st March 2008, 02:33 AM
In December, during a regular vet check, my Sophie had a grade 2-3 murmur and Sadie, mitral valve prolapse. This Sunday, Easter day, we will travel to Fort Worth for an echocardiogram at a heart clinic.