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Heart murmur in puppy.

Species: Dog
Breed: Chihuahua
Age: Less than 3 mon
Does this sound like a "normal" heart for a 10 week old Chihuahua pup? I know it's probably difficult to tell anything from this, because it was just recorded with a little hand held recorder - not a stethoscope - but her heart beats so hard and loud that it was easy to pick up on it.

I took this baby in as a rescue when the previous owner stated that the breeder's vet said that the pup has a severe heart murmur and rapid heart rate - - but she claimed to not know much about heart conditions and said the pup needed to see a cardiologist and would likely need surgery.

Before I spend 690.00 for an echocardiogram, I'm just hoping for a quick second opinion. (again, I know that's likely impossible to provide, given the situation - but please let me know your thoughts).

I used the same recorder to record the heartbeat of my own Chihuahua who, although older, at 4 years - is about the same size as the pup - her recording gave me a very soft, quiet 132 bpm.

Here is the link to the sound clip of the pup's heartbeat. (15 second clip - 60 beats, equates to 240 bmp, am I correct?)

http://elizabethhart.com/marilynsheartrate8.17.12.mp3




Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I have to say this is the first time someone has given me an audio clip to interpret online!

Unfortunately, it's really hard to hear whether or not there is a murmur here.

I'm not too worried about the rate....Yes, it is faster than normal, but I don't usually get too stressed about that.

The main concern is whether or not there is a murmur and you really need a good stethoscope in order to hear that.

My guess is, that if the breeder has said that her vet has heard a severe murmur then there really is one there. There would be no reason for a breeder to falsify that kind of information. We grade murmurs on a scale of 1-6 with 6 being the most severe. Did she give you a number?

If a dog has a grade 1 or 2 murmur as a pup it can often go away as the puppy matures. But, higher than that usually means that there is a heart problem.

Some heart problems are potentially treatable but if there is a severe murmur in a young dog like this then we have to be prepared that little Marilyn may not live a long life. (With that being said, I have seen dogs with very obvious murmurs that have defied the odds and lived to an old age.)

Unfortunately the only way to know what is going on with this heart will be to have an ultrasound (also called an echocardiogram) done. You will likely need to be referred to someone through your veterinarian. Before you make the appointment with the ultrasonographer, be sure to ask if they are comfortable doing this on such a small dog. It may be a difficult thing to do!

The ultrasound really should tell you why a murmur is there. A murmur means that there is a disturbance in the way that blood flows in the heart. It could be that a valve is defective, or that there is a hole in the septum (i.e. in the middle of the heart) or many other things. Once you get the diagnosis, then the ultrasonographer will tell you what kind of life expectancy or problems you can expect.

On a happy note, I saw a kitten a few months ago with an extremely loud murmur. We had a specialist ultrasound her heart and she had a tiny septal defect (a hole in her heart). The prognosis was excellent and she should live a full life.

I hope that helps and I really hope the diagnosis is a good one!

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thank you so much Dr. Marie, for your detailed and prompt response!

I do appreciate your insight and will go ahead with getting little Marilyn in with our vet for referral to the specialty hospital here for the echocardiogram as soon as possible.

The previous owner said that her vet did not know enough about heart conditions to give the murmur a "rating" or a "grade"... (I wish she had, perhaps I'd have been a little less hesitant to proceed with the ultrasound if I knew for certain that she had a low grade murmur that we could take the "wait and see" approach with.)

Again, I thank you for your time - now that I've found you here, you're likely to hear from me (and a few hundred of our Facebook friends - haha) in the future!

A wonderful service you provide!!

All the best,

~ Elizabeth
http://elizabethhart.com/friendsofemma.htm
https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfEmmaCleftPalateChihuahua


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're very welcome! And thanks for the recommendation.

Dr. Marie



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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.