What is French Bulldog Heart Murmur?

Have you ever heard of French Bulldog heart murmur? This condition can either be minor or a sign of a more serious health problem. It’s essential to get your dog checked to receive proper treatment.

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can dogs sense when something is wrong with their owner

In this post, I discussed heart murmur in dogs, its diagnosis, and treatment. I also added a few points for fellow Bulldog owners to keep in mind.

What is a French Bulldog heart murmur?

French Bulldog heart murmur

Heart murmur in canines is the sound the abnormal blood flow makes as the organ pumps. What happens is that the blood creates an unnecessary backflow or turbulence, which creates the ‘whooshing’ sound. This sound often occurs during systole or whenever the heart is pumping blood out.

Take note that heart murmurs in French Bulldogs don’t always sound the same. Most of the time, it will vary in loudness, which will indicate the turbulence level. However, the intensity of the murmur doesn’t necessarily indicate the severity of your dog’s condition.

On the upside, heart murmurs in dogs aren’t always life-threatening. In fact, many French Bulldogs live long lives without being diagnosed.  This is because heart murmurs aren’t easily obvious unless the vet conducts an in-depth examination and bloodwork.

A canine heart murmur is either pathologic or physiologic.

French Bulldog heart murmur

When we say pathologic, the heart murmur is triggered by an anatomical abnormality in your Frenchie’s heart. It can also be extracardiac, which means that the cause isn’t within the heart itself or by heart disease.

Most of the time, a heart murmur in French Bulldogs that persists after 6 months of age should be checked carefully. This is especially true if the murmur is Grade III or higher.

Moreover, the location of pathologic heart murmurs often points to specific lesions or abnormalities. In this case, most French Bulldogs with pathologic heart murmurs will suffer from unexplained weight loss, fainting spells, and decreased exercise tolerance.

Meanwhile, a physiologic heart murmur in dogs is often considered ‘innocent’ murmurs. It’s harmless and often observed on young puppies. A physiologic heart murmur is deemed to be benign.

In most cases, physiologic heart murmur will clear up as the French Bulldog grows older. Frenchies will often outgrow the heart murmur by the time it reaches 5 months old.

The University Of Illinois College Of Veterinary Medicine had listed the ‘Seven S’s of Innocent Murmurs’. These are the following:

  • Systolic. This heart murmur happens during systole.
  • Sweet. There’s a murmur but very gentle in sound.
  • Soft. It’s slightly louder than sweet but still gentle.
  • Small. The murmur is localized in one area.
  • Single. This murmur isn’t associated with any canine abnormalities.
  • Short. It occurs during systole, but the ‘whooshing’ sound is short and doesn’t take up the entire contracting period.
  • Sensitive. The murmur occurs when there are changes in the dog’s heart rate or breathing.

Heart murmur in dogs is graded from I to VI.

Canine heart murmurs are graded based on the loudness of their sound.

With Grade I heart murmur, the sound is very soft and only heard in one spot intermittently. On the other hand, Grade VI heart murmur is loud and can be felt by simply putting your hands on your dog’s chest.

Whatever grade your Frenchie’s heart murmur is, it’s important to consider heart murmurs as a serious matter. Following the vet’s advice will save your dog from potential complications or discomfort.

Diagnosis of French Bulldog heart murmur

To diagnose heart murmur in French Bulldogs, the vet will listen to your dog’s heart using a stethoscope. This is a routine examination, which will help detect heart murmur on any dog.

If the veterinarian detected a heart murmur on a young puppy, he or she would likely recommend waiting for a few weeks. Once the puppy is older, a re-examination will be conducted to see if the heart murmur will resolve itself.

For nervous and agitated French Bulldogs, a re-examination may also be necessary once the dog is calm. This way, the vet can listen to heart sounds while the dog is at rest. It will yield a more accurate diagnosis.

If the veterinarian suspects that your Frenchie has a pathologic heart murmur, further examinations like the following might be necessary:

  • Echocardiogram. An ECG test is done to generate an image of the heart. This way, the vet can check for lesions and other physical abnormalities.
  • X-ray. This is a supplementary examination to check if the heart is enlarged. It can also detect heart problems in dogs like coronary heart disease, atrial flutter, angina, and so on.
  • Doppler ultrasound. A Doppler ultrasound is conducted to map out the blood flow through the blood vessels. This will confirm whether there’s backflow or turbulence, which creates the murmuring sound.

What causes a heart murmur in dogs?

Most cases of heart murmurs in French Bulldogs are secondary to other heart problems. The following are some of these conditions:

1. Heartworm

Unlike other worm parasites that infect dogs, heartworms nest in your canine’s heart. They reproduce until the worms block proper blood flow. This can lead to a bad case of a heart murmur as well as lung disease, organ failure, and other life-threatening conditions.

The good thing is that heartworm disease is highly preventable. As long as your French Bulldog is vaccinated against heartworm, it will be safe against this health problem.

2. Mitral valve regurgitation

Mitral valve regurgitation occurs when a dog’s mitral valve that regulates the left ventricle wears out. It will then start to leak blood, which will create a heart murmur. Unfortunately, this condition is more common in small dogs, including French Bulldogs.

To prevent the progression of mitral valve damage, the vet may prescribe ACE inhibitors. These drugs lower the blood pressure so that the mitral valve won’t bear too much load.

Depending on your Frenchie’s specific condition, cardiac glycosides, vasodilators, and beta-blockers may also be used for treatment.

3. Tricuspid valve dysplasia

Tricuspid valve dysplasia (TVD) is a rare congenital condition where the tricuspid valve is malformed. With this, the valve won’t be fully closed, which allows blood to backflow. This phenomenon results in a heart murmur.

French Bulldogs with a mild case of TVD can live normal lives without medication. However, if your pet is diagnosed with severe tricuspid valve dysplasia, continuous medication and therapy are necessary. This is to prevent the onset of congestive heart failure, which often occurs due to TVD.

4. Dilated cardiomyopathy

Canine cardiomyopathy occurs when the heart muscles degenerate. It makes the heart muscles thinner, which leads to improper closure of heart valves. As the blood backflows, it creates a heart murmur.

Aside from heart murmur, cardiomyopathy will cause a slew of other symptoms. It requires immediate veterinary care as this condition can be life-threatening.

5. Hyperthyroidism

As mentioned, heart murmur can also be due to extracardiac causes. One of which is hyperthyroidism.

French Bulldogs with hyperthyroidism suffer from excessive production of the thyroid hormone. While this is rare in dogs, any breed can still suffer it at any point in their lives.

It’s important to treat hyperthyroidism in French Bulldogs to save them from poor prognosis. The vet may use antithyroid drugs, a low-iodine diet, and even surgery.

**There are other causes of a heart murmur, which aren’t listed here. It’s best to bring your French Bulldog to the vet for proper examination. As with any health problems, there’s no way to diagnose canine heart murmur at home.

Treatment for French Bulldog heart murmur

The treatment for dog heart murmur depends on what is causing it. Since it’s often a secondary condition to a bigger health problem, the goal is to treat or manage the underlying disease.

Most of the time, pathologic heart murmur is treated through a combination of diet changes, medications, and therapy. Continuous treatment is necessary, especially if the dog has heart disease and other life-threatening conditions.

Remember that you should never self-medicate your French Bulldog. Whether it’s a heart murmur or other health problems, you must ask the professional advice of a veterinarian. This will save your dog from potential harm and your pocket from massive vet bills.

The prognosis for heart murmur in dogs

A heart murmur is a very broad health issue. Its prognosis can range from excellent to severe, depending on what’s causing it.

For physiologic heart murmurs, the prognosis is excellent. It doesn’t require treatments or special veterinary intervention. You have to keep your Frenchie in good shape to reduce its risk of developing other health problems.

However, if your dog’s heart murmur is due to congenital heart disease or mitral valve regurgitation, the prognosis varies widely. It can be anywhere from fair to irrational to treat. Take note that your dog’s age, other health problems, and lifestyle will impact the prognosis of a heart murmur.

Getting your dog tested as early as possible is important to achieve a good prognosis. While most French Bulldogs turn out fine, some will have their lives on the line.

Can you insure a French Bulldog with a heart murmur?

I’m pretty sure that many owners of French Bulldogs with heart murmur are wondering about this topic. The answer actually depends on the company where you’re getting the insurance policy.

In general, most pet insurers won’t insure a dog with a pre-existing condition. So if your Frenchie already has a heart murmur, it’s very unlikely that you can land coverage for that condition.

Pet insurance is quite similar to human insurance. No insurers in their right minds will provide coverage for a condition where a ‘vet bill meter’ is already running.

The key here is getting your pet insured as early as possible. French Bulldogs have a fair share of potential health problems, so being proactive will save you from hefty vet bills.

How long can dogs live with heart murmurs?

If it’s a case of an innocent heart murmur, your Frenchie can normally live without the need for medication. However, if the murmur is pathologic, life expectancy varies. Early diagnosis and treatment are important for your Frenchie to survive and recover.

Take note that the prognosis for this condition varies widely. Only the vet can tell you the exact condition of your dog.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can stress cause a heart murmur in dogs?

A: There’s a potential that a French Bulldog can develop a heart murmur due to high-stress situations. However, it’s not ‘true’ heart murmurs. This is why veterinarians conduct re-examinations if the dog is stressed or anxious.

Q: Is anesthesia safe for a dog with a heart murmur?

A: Veterinarians are very careful when it comes to administering anesthesia to dogs with a heart murmur. If the condition is pathologic, anesthesia may have dangerous effects. This is very much true for brachycephalic breeds like French Bulldogs.

Q: Why do dogs with a heart murmur cough?

A: French Bulldogs with a serious case of heart murmur will cough due to difficulty of breathing. This often happens if the dog is already on the onset of congestive heart failure. The enlarged heart pushes into the canine’s trachea, which triggers coughing. Take note that coughing will happen during or after exerting.

Q: Do dogs with heart murmurs sleep more?

A: French Bulldogs with heart murmur are less tolerant of exercise and physical activity. It makes them exhausted easily. This will lead to sleeping more than usual. If you notice this on your pet, you should take it to the vet’s clinic right away.

Q: Should I buy a dog with a heart murmur?

A: If you’re buying a puppy, don’t freak out if you discover that it has a heart murmur. Most puppies have this condition, and it’s usually physiological. Once the puppy is older, it will outlive the heart murmur. You should look for a full health check to ensure that the puppy you’re buying doesn’t have heart disease and defects. 

Final words

French Bulldog heart murmur is more prevalent than what you actually think. Even though this condition is prevalent, you should still seek the vet’s expertise. This way, your dog will be examined, and the root cause of the murmur will be pointed out. From there, the vet will perform the necessary treatments in case the condition is pathologic.

Does your French Bulldog have a heart murmur? Share your experience below!