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Heart Murmurs In Greyhounds - Heartworm Prev. ? Too


Guest beepsandclicks
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Guest beepsandclicks

My 14 year old grey was diagnosed by a new vet this past week as having a grade 2-3 heart murmur. He wants to put her on heart medication. I am skeptical, as I think I read somewhere that ex-racers typically exhibit a murmur. During her last exam a year prior the other vet said the same thing (grade 2-3) but recommended it best not to medicate. They took a scan at that time and her heart looked normal.

 

Anyone have any thoughts on the murmur? She cannot be put under again due to her age, so more scans are probably out of the question. She doesn't *appear* to have any heart difficulties; her only issues seem to be arthritis--blood work, etc all show excellent values.

 

Second question: Our previous vet said we could cease giving her heartworm preventative due to her age. This new vets says no way. She continues to receive the preventative, since we live in Houston (and still have mosquitoes in Januray), but I hate to stress her system with this poison if it is no longer a big issue. Wondering if anyone else has heard of stopping the HW stuff for older dogs?

 

Thanks!

Debra

Houston

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Keep giving heartworm meds. They are still needed.

 

Not sure from your post what diagnostics she's had, but I'm not aware of any heart diagnostics that would require putting her under. We've always done echo, EKG, etc. with dog awake.

 

Hugs and scritchies to your girlie.

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
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A grade 2-3 isn't bad if she isn't having any other symptoms. A chest xray would show if the heart was abnormally enlarged. A greyhound-savvy vet would know the difference between an enlarged heart on a normal dog and a normally, lightly enlarged heart on an ex-racer.

Niña's murmur was initially graded as a III-VI and that vet wanted her to get an ultrasound. We put that on hold due to finances and the long distance to an U/S vet. In the meantime a chest xray showed nothing abnormal. Upon a recent visit to a super vet specialty referral clinic they downgraded heart murmur to a 2.

I'd say no to heart medication unless she has shortness of breath, coughs, or has other signs of cardiac problems.

Definitely keep giving the heartworm meds though.

 

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I'm far from an expert, but Dune had a grade 3 heart murmur and our first greyhound-savvy vet just considered it normal, since his heart was normal on x-ray.

 

He lived 12 happy years after that diagnosis, even though two in-between vets also wanted to put him on meds (I said no and found new greyhound vets).

 

Kipper also has a low murmur, but it's very low and although vets comment on it, they don't worry.

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"..cherish him and give him place with yourself for the rest of his but too short life. It is his one drawback. He should live as long as his owner."
James Matheson, The Greyhound: Breeding, Coursing, Racing, etc., 1929

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Guest beepsandclicks

Will do on the heartworm prevenative. Thanks for the advice!

 

I think our vet was just not very adept at working with her awake. After that last heart scan (?), he said he could do no more, as she was quite stressed on the table and would not lie down. He said he'd need to put her under to do more tests. Perhaps I need to find better docs... The scan showed a very slightly enlarged heart but my gut told me it was a *normal* size for an ex-athlete.

 

Other symptoms. She occasionally (very occasionally) makes a gagging noise. Again, the vets don't know what to say about it, as they have never heard it first-hand. The fact that the murmur rating has not changed leads me to suspect things are okay for now, but I'll keep an eye out.

 

Thanks everyone for your help.

Debra

 

 

Keep giving heartworm meds. They are still needed.

 

Not sure from your post what diagnostics she's had, but I'm not aware of any heart diagnostics that would require putting her under. We've always done echo, EKG, etc. with dog awake.

 

Hugs and scritchies to your girlie.

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Guest Swifthounds

I'll second the comment that most heart related diagnostics don't require sedation. I would ask for a second opinion. Have another vet (possibly in the same practice) give her heart a listen and compare the opinions. You can't necessarily compare the opinion from a year ago as much can change in an older dog in that time. Have you tried a cardiac specialist? I know you're not seeing symptoms of heart failure, but sometimes you get a better answer and options from someone who handles heart issues day in and day out. Of all the "next" options, an exam by a cardiologist is the least stressful.

 

Second question: Our previous vet said we could cease giving her heartworm preventative due to her age. This new vets says no way. She continues to receive the preventative, since we live in Houston (and still have mosquitoes in Januray), but I hate to stress her system with this poison if it is no longer a big issue. Wondering if anyone else has heard of stopping the HW stuff for older dogs?

 

 

A heartworm load would tax any heart, but especially a heart that's already struggling. If you're not in an area where mosquitos are absent, I certainly wouldn't suggest taking her off heartworm meds. If you're not using a "plain" ivermectin based med and are using one of the silly "combo" pills, it would probably be worthwhile to make the switch.

 

I would make "Toxin" cuts in the areas most toxic to an older dog: unnecessary vaccines and topical flea/tick meds, but not heartworm.

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Our first - Troy - was detected with a grade 3 heart murmur at age 6 and after taking a baseline, this was monitored by the vet over the years. He lived with this condition without any appreciable change and without any medication until he passed away at 12.

 

When you say gagging noise - is it raspy breathing?

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Guest beepsandclicks

It sounds like a "gaaaaaaaaaaah" -- pretty loud. It is a one-time (per episode) thing, not breathing but like she is trying to get something up from her throat. Happens usually upon waking and doesn't result in vomiting, although it sounds like that is what is happening.

 

She is heartworm negative. She does pant from time to time. I was thinking it was due to the heat here in Houston and, more recently, her arthritis (I cannot tell that her pain meds help that much).

 

 

When you say gagging noise - is it raspy breathing?

Edited by beepsandclicks
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Guest beepsandclicks

I'm taking my girl in to another vet today--she is meant to be very well-versed in greyhounds...wish us luck! She is feeling ill today and I want her meds re-evaluated.

Hopefully she is someone with whom we can begin a good working relationship with--to monitor her heart, etc.

 

Thanks for all the advice!

Debra

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