How Much Does Dog Heart Murmur Treatment Cost?

Written by: Staff

During a routine checkup, often during a vaccination session, a veterinarian will always listen to your dog’s heartbeat, and if the normal sounds are not as expected, it could be a potential sign of trouble.  For most, this can be a surprise as many dog owners will notice no symptoms at the time of the exam.

A heart murmur, an abnormal sound, such as a rumbling or burble, which indicates turbulence in the flow of blood, may be a sign of a disease or condition, but more often than not, a veterinarian will see it as a major clue as to determining if there is, indeed, any abnormalities to the heart and/or damage to the blood vessels.

Murmurs found in dogs is often caused via an abnormality in the heart, swelling of the heart, an incomplete closing of the valve and/or a narrowing of the arteries.

stethoscope by jasleen_kaur, on Flickr
stethoscope” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by jasleen_kaur

Dog heart murmur treatment cost

The cost of heart murmur treatment can greatly vary depending on the cause of the murmur and the dog’s age.  In some cases, surgery may be required if a valve defect is suspected, whereas a slight diet modification and medication may be recommended in the case of constricted arteries.  Tumors, another indicted sign of a murmur, could be much pricer due to the chemotherapy which could be required.

For puppies younger than six months old, for example, a murmur, which is often found during a routine vaccination, could be helped with a beta blocker or could subside on its own as the time goes on.  If one is suspected, routine examinations will always be recommended to note the progress.

To determine the right course of action, a veterinarian, depending on the situation, may want to order an MRI ($1,000), x-ray ($50-$200), a cardiac echo ($300) and/or ultrasound ($250-$500) to diagnose a specific condition.  All of these tests, when combined with the vet examination fee, can cost upwards of $1,500 to simply diagnose the condition.

As for treatments, there are a variety of options to consider and it can be hard to offer a “set” price point, but to make things easy, we broke down the most common conditions found which are associated with a dog heart murmur in our table below:

ConditionPrice Average
Heart Valve Malformation/Defect$3,000 to $8,000
Heart Inflammation (Myocarditis)$2,000 to $6,000
Heart Sac Inflammation (Pericarditis)$2,000 to $6,000
Subaortic Stenosis (Artery Narrowing)$20 to $50/month for just beta blocking drugs
Constricted ArteriesChange in diet (may increase food budget $20-$40+ a month
Heart Tumor- Surgery starts at $1,500
- Radiation therapy ranges from $2,000 to $6,000+

NOTE:  These are the costs for the procedure only and will not include the initial diagnostic testing as mentioned above.  You may want to add another $700 to $1,500 to the treatment totals for an estimate on these procedures.  As you can see, treatment, if necessary, can start at $1,500 and cost more than $20,000.

The Diary of a Real-Life Veterinarian states that she will send any suspected heart failure pet to a local cardiologist for an echocardiogram, which can cost about $600.  From there, depending on the echocardiogram, the costs could be from as little as $20 a month for heart medications and a prescription-based diet to much more for other treatment options., as per their detailed guide, notes the prices for treatment can range from as little as $100 up to more than $20,000.

According to one forum member on this forum thread, she said she owned two dogs that had heart problems.  A heart checkup alone at a local dog cardiologist would range anywhere from $500 to $600, but most clinics, from her experience, would offer a price estimate over the phone.  She highly recommended an echocardiogram, at a minimum, to help understand the symptoms in depth, and from there, the cardiologist could recommend his or her treatment options.

Diagnosing the heart murmur in a dog

Listening with a stethoscope – To understand what’s causing the murmur, a veterinarian will first grade the sound, based on a grade ranging from I (very quiet) to grade VI (very loud, often heard with the stethoscope barely touching the chest.  Generally, the louder the murmur, the more severe the heart disease may be.  To see how a veterinarian will grade the heartbeat they hear, this NC State assessment chart explains the process in detail.  Aside from listening to the murmur, an MRI, x-ray and/or ultrasound, as mentioned prior, may be ordered to determine the condition.  These tests will help a vet examine a picture of the heart, along with a picture of the surrounding issue and most of the time, these can be detected with medical imaging.

Radiographs – A radiograph will help a veterinarian visualize and measure the heart.  Because dogs vary in size, this test, used in conjunction with other tests, can help measure the heart’s function.  If the heart were enlarged, for example, then the test would show this as well as any fluid if it were present in the liver and/or abdomen.

Blood test and/or urine analysis – A blood test will not specifically diagnosis the heart murmur but it can show a vet how well the other organs are coping with the heart condition.  It can also measure the amount of a chemical known as NT-proBNP, which is an indicator of the heart’s muscle stress.

Electrocardiogram – During this procedure, an electrocardiogram will help assess the electrical activity of the heart muscle as abnormal rhythms can be seen in the trace.  While there can be false negatives with the test, such as stress coming from a nervous dog, a skilled operator will be able to distinguish these readings to determine an accurate result.

X-ray – An radiographic image can show the size, artery structures, veins and condition of the valves.

Heart murmur life expectancy

With no definite answer, it really depends and will be based on several factors. As the murmur will be graded on a scale of one to six, as mentioned prior, the more turbulent the heart rate is, the more it can affect your dog’s life expectancy.  With puppies, the good news is that a murmur will often fade and will eventually disappear, according to  Generally, once the puppy reaches four to six months old and there is no indication of heart disease, they are often referred to as innocent murmurs.  In this case, only assumptions can be made and if the murmur did disappear, then the puppy will live as expected.  However, if the murmur is still present at six months, then a vet will want to determine its underlying cause.

Varying greatly on the underlying cause, a heart murmur can progress into heart failure, which, of course, can lead to a much shorter life as expected, whereas some dogs can live out their entire lives with a low-risk murmur.

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