top of page

My Dog Has a Heart Murmur

Q: My eight-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a significant heart murmur. What should I do to help him?

A: Cavalier King Charles Spaniels can develop heart disease at an earlier age than most other dogs. A heart murmur is an abnormal sound that the heart makes when there is a leak between the chambers of the heart. It can also be

associated with valvular disease of the major vessels. In Cavaliers, it is most often associated with a leaky mitral valve (between the left ventricle and the

left atrium).

There are many causes of heart disease, including genetics, age, infection, and some are even associated with grain-free diets.

The heart murmur sound is caused by turbulent blood flow. This is not dissimilar to turbulence or pressure changes when you kink a hose and hear the sound as the water pressure gradient is altered.

Heart murmurs are usually graded 1-6. When a dog is identified as having a heart murmur, it does not mean that he is in heart failure. Typical signs of heart failure include weakness, exercise intolerance, coughing, increased respiratory rates, or labored breathing. A typical medical work-up might include chest radiographs and a blood/urine test.

Often, when the pet looks to be in heart failure, we refer them to a Board Certified cardiologist to get a more extensive evaluation of the heart. They will typically perform an Echo (ultrasound) of the heart to get more specific

information about the nature of the heart disease.

For more information, go to to view Heart Murmurs in Dogs and Cats.

By Dr. Frank Lavac, MS, DVM

Dr. Lavac can be reached by calling his office 310-828-4587.

1 view0 comments
bottom of page