Rosie came in all dressed up for her wellness exam last week. She was looking great for Valentine's Day! Everything was looking great and she is healthy. Some pets have underlying health conditions that can be picked up on physical exam. For example, have you ever wondered what it means if someone has a heart murmur? Did you know that pets can get heart mumurs, also? Everytime the heart beats it "pushes" blood through the body. A heart murmur is the sound that can be heard each time the heart beats that tells us that blood is not flowing in the proper direction. In younger animals it can be the sign of a congenital birth defect. In older animals it can tell us that the valves or heart muscle are starting to show signs of weakness as the pet ages.
The longer a pet has a heart murmur, the more likely it is that the heart will enlarge to continue to "push" the proper amount of blood. Overtime this weakens the heart and can make it function less effectively. When this happens the pet may tire easily, develop a cough, start to get an enlarged abdomen or have episodes of weakness or "fainting".
Heart murmurs can easily be identified with a thorough physical exam. Although heart disease is not something that we can "cure" if a murmur is identified on exam, Xrays are often recommended to look for changes in heart size and shape that would tell the doctor if medication to help the heart pump more effectively are necessary. Fortunately, we can often detect these changes long before the pet shows clincial signs. This allows us to slow the progression of the heart disease to help the pet live longer.
Don't let a "slight" heart murmur slow your pet down! Schedule your wellness exam, today!