Cardiac and pulmonary auscultation (continued)

A useful technique is to place your hands on both sides of the dog’s chest before listening with a stethoscope. Search for where the heart is actually beating or pulsating. It is usually about halfway between the shoulder and elbow and should rest under your middle two fingers as in the first photograph below. This precordial impulse comes from the apex of the heart and is aligned with the mitral valve.

Click here to view the proper location to listen to a dog’s heart.

Click here to view a diagram of the location of a dog’s heart valves.

It is helpful to know that if you suspect a possible congenital abnormality, abnormal sounds are more likely to be heard dorsally on the thoracic wall closer to the heart base, not at the location of the precordial impulse.