What is the final stage of a heart murmur in dogs?

Answered by Phillip Nicastro

The final stage of a heart murmur in dogs can be a serious and life-threatening condition known as congestive heart failure. When a dog develops a heart murmur due to underlying heart disease, such as valvular disease or dilated cardiomyopathy, it indicates that there is an abnormal blood flow within the heart. Over time, if left untreated or if the underlying heart disease worsens, the heart murmur can progress and lead to congestive heart failure.

Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart is no longer able to effectively pump blood throughout the body. As a result, blood can start to back up, leading to an accumulation of fluid in the lungs, known as pulmonary edema. This fluid buildup can cause difficulty breathing, coughing, and increased respiratory effort in affected dogs.

In addition to pulmonary edema, congestive heart failure can also result in the accumulation of fluid in other areas of the body, such as the abdomen or limbs. This is known as peripheral edema and can cause swelling and discomfort for the dog.

As congestive heart failure progresses, the dog may exhibit other symptoms such as lethargy, weakness, exercise intolerance, decreased appetite, and weight loss. These signs indicate that the dog’s heart is struggling to meet the body’s demands for oxygenated blood.

It is important to note that congestive heart failure is a serious condition that requires prompt veterinary intervention. Treatment may involve medications to help improve heart function, diuretics to reduce fluid buildup, and dietary modifications to manage the dog’s condition. In some cases, surgery or other interventions may be necessary to address the underlying heart disease.

In my experience as a veterinary professional, I have seen dogs in the final stage of a heart murmur exhibit severe respiratory distress, struggling to breathe even at rest. This can be a distressing and frightening experience for both the dog and their owners. As a pet owner, it is crucial to monitor your dog closely for any changes in breathing, appetite, or overall demeanor and seek veterinary care if you suspect heart disease or if your dog’s symptoms worsen.

To summarize, the final stage of a heart murmur in dogs is congestive heart failure, a serious condition that can be fatal if left untreated. Dogs in this stage often have fluid accumulation in their lungs, leading to difficulty breathing. Prompt veterinary care and appropriate treatment are essential to manage this condition and improve the dog’s quality of life.