What’s a Heart Murmur and Should I Be Concerned?

I haven’t told you about my dogs yet, have I? Sorry, let’s fix that. My wife and I have two long haired Dachshunds. They are litter-mates, born ten years ago last October. Cami (her full name is “Camilla Missy Diva Piglet Punky Girl,” and tells you everything you need to know about her) and Harry (full name Harry Potter Dachshund Greene) are truly magical souls. They’re smart, funny, obedient, sweet, friendly, and, well, they’re the best dogs in the universe. Sorry, I exaggerate. They’re the best Dachshunds in the universe. Someone on Betelgeuse VII who has a dachshund is going to send me hate mail now, I just know it.

This morning we took them in for their annual wellness checkup with our local veterinarian, whom we like very much. She detected a slight heart murmur in Cami, and then to both her shock and ours, a still slight but more pronounced murmur with Harry. Neither dog had ever had a murmur detected before, so this came as a shock. We’re going to be conservative about their treatment for now. We’ll wait a couple months, bring them back for a re-check, and if the murmurs persist, get an echocardiogram (ECG) to determine the nature of the issue and where we might go from there. Both dogs are completely asymptomatic, meaning that had our veterinarian not told us, we’d never know there was anything possibly amiss. Neither Cami nor Harry are particularly lethargic, their color is excellent, and they exercise happily…not often enough, but that’s my fault. In short, this is most likely no big deal.

So what is a heart murmur, and should you be worried if your veterinarian diagnoses one in your pet? Here’s some very useful information on murmurs and what they indicate. Technically, all it is is the sound of turbulence in the blood flowing in or out of the heart. It could have any one of many origins, and more often than not, it doesn’t harm the pet at all. As my father (a physician) once said about another disorder, it’s usually something you die with, not from.

Do I like that this potential issue detracts from the otherwise complete perfection of our wonderful dogs? Of course, particularly if the Dachshund on Betelgeuse VII doesn’t have a heart murmur. Am I panicking about the diagnosis? Absolutely not.  However, it is an excellent illustration of why you should make sure your pets get (at least) annual wellness checkups with your veterinarian. You need to know these things, so you can be informed, and make sure your pet has the best possible health!

As you can see from the pictures (taken a few hours after their checkup), neither Cami nor Harry are too stressed out about what the veterinarian had to say.



Cami Missy Diva Piglet Punky Girl, being quite good.

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