Should my pet be referred to a cardiologist?
A "referral" is recommended by your local vet for cases which would benefit from seeing somebody with more experience and qualifications within their field. It is similar to your GP doctor referring you to a consultant and allows your pet access to specialist equipment and expertise. We are unable to discuss your pet directly unless you have been referred by your vet, however the following questions are frequently asked and may help you to decide whether to seek further advice :
My new puppy/kitten has a heart murmur - is it serious?
Many young puppies or kittens will have mild heart murmurs, which often disappear by the time they are 6 months of age. However some murmurs can indicate abnormalities such as narrow (stenotic) valves, holes in the heart (septal defects) or incorrectly formed (dysplastic) valves. A veterinary cardiologist may be able to give you some indication from examining your puppy, however a full cardiac ultrasound scan is often needed to tell if it is likely to be a problem.
My cat has a heart murmur but otherwise seems normal, should I worry?
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a heart muscle disease which is common in cats of all breeds. It can lead to heart attacks and blood clots even in apparently healthy cats, and often progresses to cause congestive heart failure (fluid build up in the lungs). Recent research suggests that up to 40% of cats with heart murmurs have underlying disease, with cats over 8years of age most commonly affected. Your vet can offer a screening blood test (proBNP) which can help to rule out this disease, however an abnormal test result means a cardiac ultrasound scan is needed to be sure if your cat has HCM.
My dog has a heart murmur, can I still breed from him/her?
Some heart murmurs can indicate serious cardiac problems which can be passed on to future puppies, and in these dogs breeding would not be recommended. A full cardiac ultrasound scan is the best way of determining whether or not your dog's heart murmur is something to worry about. If you are a breeder looking to arrange heart testing by auscultation ("stethoscope test") or Doppler ultrasound scan please contact us direct on 0800 999 4333 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Should I buy a horse with a heart murmur?
A heart murmur detected at PPE ("vetting") usually warrants assessment by a cardiologist. This gives more information regarding the significance of the murmur in that individual horse, and helps determine the suitability of the horse to the type of riding you hope to do. A cardiac ultrasound scan is usuallly required and in some cases an exercise ECG is performed.