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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 24374
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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I can see my dogs pulse in the chest after she has been running

Customer Question

I can see my dogs pulse in the chest after she has been running around. From what i read online, the region is the thoracic inlet? I don't notice it when she is calm but after she runs in side I can see the pulse. Is this a sign of heart failure? She is a boxer/cocker spaniel mix with sort of a narrow but deep chest. She also has noisy breathing when she lays down, it's not fast or anything it sounds kind of harsh/growly. I'm not sure if the two are related or the breathing is just because she has some of that boxer like snorting going on.
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
I've brought it up to the vet but he says her heart sounds fine. They took a lateral X-ray a while back and saw that there could be some very mild enlargement used on her trachea deviating slightly, but one of the other vets said it could be positional.
Expert:  RL-cssm replied 7 months ago.
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Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 7 months ago.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. A jugular pulse is normal but if pulse pressure is elevated we consider the following:

  • Heart failure.
  • Constrictive pericarditis (JVP increases on inspiration - called Kussmaul's sign).
  • Cardiac tamponade.
  • Fluid overload - eg, renal disease.
  • Superior vena cava obstruction (no pulsation).

Jugular venous pressure (JVP) provides an indirect measure of central venous pressure. Assessing this pressure, however, is a coarse estimate of underlying disease and has been superceded by other diagnostics such as an echocardiogram - ultrasound of the heart. I would be pleased to review any X-rays you could upload to our conversation. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.

I'm getting the X-ray put on a cd today. How does one know if the pulse pressure is elevated? She has obvious signs of heart failure. I can feel her heart beat when she lays on my feet. The rate seems normal and it's a very strong beat. Is that normal to feel a heartbeat? She's somewhat of a lazy dog but doesn't usually show signs of fatigue on walks, unless she it is hot out and it's a hike then she takes a while to stop panting and whatnot.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 7 months ago.

We can assess venous and arterial pressure by catheterizing our patient but in most cases we assess blood pressure with cuffs just as is done with people. The heart is readily felt in thin dogs but auscultating a heavier dog with my stethoscope might be necessary. I'll return to our conversation when the X-ray is uploaded.