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My name is Mark Baldwin, I live in the beautifully scenic province of Newfoundland, Canada, home to the beloved Newfoundland breed! I have owned several Rottweilers over the last ten years and have a delightful young male who is a year old.

Last week we visited our vet on a gastrointestinal problem, and she mentioned hearing a slight murmur. It was barely audible on several attempts with the dog panting, etc. She said it was a ‘one’ on a scale of six and not much to worry about at this time…however, we are worried!

I’m wondering about the consequences and what we should have done in the way of costly tests, ultrasound, etc.? I don’t want to overreact, but at the same time, I don’t want to under-treat our pup.

I’d really appreciate any advice on this.

Sincerely,

Mark

Dear Mark,

I agree with your vet. Most murmurs in young, healthy, active dogs are nothing to worry about. In my patients, I usually begin by checking for anemia and then re-listening in a few weeks to be sure the murmur is consistently there. If there is anemia present, it is usually easily treated, and even with a murmur present on several visits, the only reason to worry would be if there were changes in the heart muscles. An echocardiogram is a painless way to tell you if any muscle changes are present. The most common abnormality found is a mild valve abnormality requiring no treatment. If the murmur is consistently present, this test is well worth running simply for the peace of mind, knowing that there are no problems. In the rare case of a serious abnormality, there are many things that can be done to prevent heart failure for a long time.

-Dr. Weaver

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