Heart Murmur-Chihuahua

This forum is for dog lovers seeking everyday advice and suggestions on health-related issues. Remember, however, that advice on a public forum simply can't be a substitute for proper medical attention. Only your vet can say assuredly what is best for your dog.


Barked: Mon Apr 5, '10 9:53pm PST 
My 2 year old chihuahua mix, Violet, was recently diagnosed with a heart murmur. The vet said that heart murmurs are rated on a scale of 1-6 with 6 being the most severe. She rated Violet a 2 saying that it was probably something she was born with. Does anyone have any information on heart murmurs in dogs? Any advice on how to handle this would be appreciated. She is very healthy otherwise with no visible signs that she has this condition. Thank you in advance for any advice you can give!

Edited by author Mon Apr 5, '10 9:55pm PST


I'm spoiled but- not rotten!
Barked: Tue Apr 6, '10 9:38pm PST 
sorry never had a dog with a heart murmur, but I do have an 18 yr old cat that has had a grade one or two murmur since I got her 10 years ago. Just had her to the vet again for a check up and she is doing great!

What has your vet advised?
Leah, CGC

All the Beauty- with none of the- Brains
Barked: Thu Apr 8, '10 6:42am PST 
A II/VI heart murmur is pretty mild as heart murmurs go. Most dogs live fairly regular lives with this grade murmur. I would not be surprised if you see little to no effect from this diagnosis until your dog gets older.

With any pet with a murmur I always reccomend contacting a local BOARD CERTIFIED cardiologist to have an echo (cardiac ultrasound) done now while you are healthy. This will serve as a great baseline for any future problems as they arise. Most animals with murmurs should have an echo performed bi annually to annually depending on the cardiologists reccomendations. Medications are not always indicated in dogs with murmurs but as you get older you may need to start a cardiac medicaion to help your heart beat better.

Please make sure to have your pets teeth check annually as well. Dental disease with moderate to severe calculus and inflammed gums can allow bacteria to enter the blood stream and actually worsen your heart condition. You should look into dental care options for home like bully sticks, tooth brushes or dental washes. You may need to have them professionally cleaned every couple years.

Remember that heart murmurs to not preclude your pet from anesthesia but do mean more precautions need to be takes especially in regards to what type of medications they can use for sedation. Make sure to tell all pet sitters or other carers besides you about the murmur so that in an emergency situation the vet will be aware of your dogs condition (although anyone who listens to the heart should be able to hear the murmur).

As far as diet...you may consider looking into a lower sodium diet. Sodium takes its toll on teh heart and since yours does not work 100% it needs all the support it can get. Many OTC dog foods especially those grocery store brands like Iams, Purina and Beneful are high in sodium compared to the more holistic diets like TOTW and Merrick. There are many people who believe raw diets help immensily for pets with murmurs. Keep in mind that most of the processed and manufactered dogs treats sold have a very very large amount of sodium in them. I would consider using fresh vegetables and meat as a treat rather than manufactured dog treats.

Also keep in mind that any extra weight will increase the danger of heart murmur. When a dog gains extra weight the heart become surrounded by a layer of fat which makes it harder for the heart to contract. If the dog already has a murmur (leaky valve) their heart is already compromised and can become much worse with fat surrounding it.

For more info regarding heart disease, murmurs etc check out
Heart Murmurs