Heart Disease in Dogs
A heart murmur is an abnormality heard with a stethoscope when listening to the heartbeat. Murmurs are graded on a 1-6 scale. A murmur rated a level of ‘1’ indicates a mild, soft change. Anything ranging from ‘4’ to ‘6’ signifies a loud, serious abnormality. Heart murmurs can reflect heart valve changes or rare congenital abnormalities in the heart structure.
The presence of a heart murmur does not always indicate disease. X-rays, ultrasound, or clinical signs of heart disease (coughing, weight loss, exercise intolerance) can help determine the presence or severity of disease.
Recent research indicates that a simple, accurate way to monitor heart disease is by monitoring a Resting Respiratory Rate. The normal breathing rate (at rest) for dogs is less than 35 breaths/minute.
First establish a “baseline” by measuring your dog’s resting breathing rate once daily for one week. Pick a time when everything is quiet in the house and your pet is sleeping. Each time the chest rises counts as one breath. Count this for 15 seconds, then multiply this number by 4 to calculate the rate. Average the RRR over the week to obtain your baseline number.
Monitor the RRR once weekly thereafter. Call us if the RRR is over 35, or if a dramatic increase from baseline occurs (for example, if the RRR is usually 15 and it suddenly goes up to 25, this is also a significant change).
Please call with any questions or concerns - Quarry Hill Park Animal Hospital