A Hertfordshire animal hospital is highlighting the importance of screening young puppies for heart murmurs as the UK marks National Heart Awareness Month in February. 

The puppy heart murmur clinics at Linnaeus-owned Davies Veterinary Specialists in Hitchin have the potential to warn vets and pet owners of possible heart conditions which can then be investigated for the underlying causes. 

The referral clinics, which were only launched last year, are available for healthy, asymptomatic pets aged nine months and younger with a heart murmur, allowing for early detection and intervention for patients born with heart abnormalities. 

Among the puppies helped by Davies is Elliott, a one-year-old French Bulldog, who was frequently fainting and was diagnosed with severe pulmonic stenosis who had a balloon valvuloplasty to help increase blood flow. 

Since the procedure, Elliott has had no recurrence of collapsing or vacant episodes and should now live a normal lifespan. 

Meanwhile, young Marley, also a French Bulldog and with less severe pulmonic stenosis, has also benefited from the same procedure at Davies. 

Lara Barron, head of cardiology at Davies, said: “Heart murmurs are relatively common in puppies, and many resolve on their own with age. 

“However, this is not always the case as certain heart murmurs can be the consequence of a more serious condition, such as a congenital heart defect, which is a heart problem existing from birth. 

“Congenital heart defects include problems with heart valves (leaks or narrowing), holes within the heart or abnormal blood vessels. These defects can affect the whole health and lifespan of a pet and this is why our heart murmur clinics are so vital.” 

As a specialist-led referral centre, pet owners wanting to book an appointment will need to contact their primary veterinarian who can then refer them to Davies. 

For more information about Davies and the wide range of specialist-led services it offers, visit https://vetspecialists.co.uk/ or search for them on Facebook or LinkedIn

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