Objectives: To determine the prevalence of physiological heart murmurs in healthy young adult dogs.
Materials and methods: Healthy dogs aged between 1 and 5 years were enrolled prospectively. All participating dogs underwent physical examination, urinalysis, blood testing and blood pressure measurement. Cardiac auscultations were performed by three independent examiners. Dogs with heart murmurs underwent echocardiography, to exclude cardiovascular abnormalities.
Results: Of 109 dogs evaluated, 95 completed the study. Heart murmurs were detected in 22 dogs. Interobserver agreement for murmur detection was moderate to fair (weighted kappa 0 · 29-0 · 56). On the basis of two different sets of echocardiographic criteria, physiological heart murmurs were diagnosed in 6 and 11 dogs, respectively, giving a prevalence of 6-12%. All physiological heart murmurs were systolic and low-grade (I-III/VI). Most were louder towards the left heart base and some radiated up to the thoracic inlet. The epidemiological features of dogs with physiological heart murmurs did not differ significantly from those of dogs without murmurs (P > 0 · 10).
Clinical significance: This study shows that physiological heart murmurs may not be limited to growing dogs or specific breeds, as they were commonly encountered in this population of healthy young adult dogs.
© 2014 British Small Animal Veterinary Association.