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Does Pet Insurance Cover Heart Murmurs?

My Puppy Has a Heart Murmur: Will My Pet Insurance Plan Cover it?

When you bring home a puppy for the first time, it's hard to imagine that they could become ill. The very thought is almost inconceivable when you lay your eyes on that cute little ball of fur. But sometimes, unfortunate things can happen, and we realize that our fur babies can experience health complications that may need treatment.

One such complication that can affect your puppy is a heart murmur. A heart murmur is a wishing or wooshing sound in your doggie's heartbeat that your vet can hear when listening to their heartbeat. Depending on the severity of the heart murmur, they can be mild and difficult to detect, or relatively loud.1

While this may sound scary, many dogs with a heart murmur can still live healthy and happy lives.2 In this article, we will walk you through everything you need to know about heart murmurs in puppies. 

What is a Heart Murmur?

Heart murmurs are abnormal heart vibrations or sounds that happen due to disturbed blood flow within the pup's heart. There are two types of heart murmurs1:

Congenital murmur: This is a birth defect that some puppies have. Usually, it's got to do with a structural heart defect. But the good news is that most murmurs in young pups turn out to be benign or innocent - which means that your puppy will likely outgrow this condition by around 6 months of age.

Acquired murmur: This is a condition that usually becomes apparent later in your pup's life. An acquired murmur is generally caused by heart valve abnormalities or issues with the cardiac muscle. Fortunately, with proper care, most dogs that have this condition don't develop congestive heart failure.

Veterinarians have classified heart murmurs into three categories, based on when it occurs as a dog's heart pumps blood.2

Systolic heart murmur: The murmur happens as the heart muscle contracts, during the systole phase. This is the most common type of heart murmur.

Diastolic heart murmur: This type of heart murmur happens in between two heartbeats when the heart muscle relaxes. It is rare in dogs.

Continuous heart murmurs: It happens throughout a dog's regular heart cycle. Also known as to-and-fro murmurs.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Murmur in Dogs?

Many pups don't show any signs or symptoms when it comes to heart murmurs. Sometimes dogs don’t begin to show signs or symptoms until they reach adulthood. According to Pawlicy Advisor, here are a few signs and symptoms you can look out for:

  • Pale gums or mucus

  • Fainting or collapsing

  • Lethargy, weakness

  • Not being able to exercise

  • Cough (usually hacking)

  • Difficulty with breathing

  • Bloated appearance and distended abdomen

If you suspect that your puppy might have a heart murmur, then you should look out for these signs, even if they don't show other symptoms:

  • Poor growth

  • Thinner and smaller as compared to other puppies their age

  • Getting tired more easily while playing

  • Not as active and energetic as other young animals

Remember, early detection is very important - so keep an eye out for any of these signs!

What should I do if I find out my puppy has a heart murmur?

First of all, don't panic. If your vet tells you that they can hear a heart murmur in your pup, they will likely want to confirm the diagnosis by doing an echocardiogram. Even if the diagnosis is confirmed and your puppy does have a heart murmur, it could be years before they’ll need cardiac medications, and in some cases, medications won't be required at all.1

But, it's important to do what you can as a pet parent to help ensure the long-term health of your dog. Manage your dog's weight to help ensure they stay at a healthy weight. Excess weight can put more stress on the heart and make it more difficult for the heart to pump blood. Take extra care of your dog's diet and exercise regimen.

Once it is confirmed that your pup has a heart murmur, make sure to follow up regularly with your vet to help monitor the condition.

Pro tip: Getting an annual echocardiogram for your pup is a great way to monitor the progression of the condition. Another method is to monitor the heart murmur with the help of a fairly simple blood test which is known as pro-BNP.

But, if your pup is less than 6 months old, your vet may recommend that you just wait it out, they just might outgrow the soft murmurs.1

Does Pet Insurance Cover Heart Murmurs in Puppies?

Many pet insurance plans can help cover the eligible costs of treatment and medications for a heart murmur as long as it is not a pre-existing condition. This is why it can be important to consider getting pet insurance as early as you can, while your pup is still young and in good health. Know more about what does pet insurance cover here.

  1. “Get a Jump on Heart Murmurs,” Riney Canine Health Center, https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments/riney-canine-health-center/canine-health-information/get-jump-heart-murmurs, n.d.

  2. “Heart Murmur in Dogs,” Pawlicy Advisor, https://www.pawlicy.com/blog/heart-murmur-in-dogs, n.d.

The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

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