View Full Version : Neutering and MVD

27th August 2006, 09:27 PM
Hello! I'm enjoying reading the topics here, and getting to know everyone, I recently joined.

Anyway, my question is.....are there more risks with Cavaliers going under anesthesia than other dog breeds? I realize that there are risks with any kind of surgery. Reason I ask is, when I took Bentley in for his puppy shots last fall, my vet seemed quite concerned about putting him under for neuetering, and he recommended I have an echocardiogram done. I have not had Bentley neutered yet (or had the echo done either), and I do plan on talking to my vet again at some point about the mitral valve issue and anesthesia. My vet did tell me that he did not hear a murmur at all. But, I am curious as to what other's opinions and experiences are.....because now I am afraid to have him neuetered, if anything happened I would never forgive myself. He is a very mellow and well-behaved dog, and I never ever let him off his leash when we are outside, so I am wondering if I should even neuter him at all now, especially after my vet had me pretty worried about it all. I guess I just need to learn more about MVD and potential anesthesia risks.

27th August 2006, 09:56 PM
There are some risks for a dog that is known to have more advanced stages of MVD. And, some risks for smaller breed, short-nosed dogs like cavaliers but these are pretty nominal and the risk of cancers in an unneutered male would certainly be higher than risk under modern anaestehtics. A young dog shouldn't be at any greater risk than any other breed -- not now where they use much better anaesthetics than many years ago and monitor the surgery.

A young dog would be very unlikely to have MVD. It is a progressive disease and most murmurs wouldn't begin to show up til age 2 at earliest. Vets are also very poor generally at hearing low grade murmurs (there's a chart showing this in the Library's health section) -- so you'd really want a cardiologist's opinion anyway. There are often low cost cardio clinics at local CKCS club events so this is worth looking into. I've got a link stickied to the top of the MVD/SM Cavaliers forum that lists upcoming health clinics. I'd go to one of those for a basic low cost auscultation (listening with stethoscope; cardios are very skilled at this) before considering more involved tests on a young dog with no other indications of heart problems.

I'd be kind of concerned at a vet who would be advising people not to neuter on the assumption that this is a *breed* issue, as it isn't really one that the vast majority of breedrs would consider a breed risk (not that you'd want to put a cavalier under unecessarily, but neutering tends to be necessary for pet dogs and also advised for various management and behaviour and health reasons. First off, neutering is usually part of the written contract between good breeders and pet owners anyway and MUST be done, as pet-grade dogs should never be bred. And good breeders would not be recommedning procedures that would put their precious puppies at risk, believe me!! :) . Second, I am not criticising the vet but rather suggesting it would be good to get him some better and more accurate information on cavaliers. This is sort-of-right- sort-of-wrong information and misleading on a very important topic.

There are several breeders and long-time cavalier people on this board who I hope will see your post. I can also give you a Midwest club contact to email who will very precisely answer your question.

There's lots of info here on MVD and a section on risk of anaesthesia:


(anyone with a cavalier will want to read through this link -- I have added it to the health library as well)

Of all the hundreds of people that I have known participating via boards like this with cavaliers, I've never heard of a death from anaesthesia during a neuter or even of any problems (and I've had many neutered myself as part of breed rescue, including three of my own, with no problems).

27th August 2006, 10:07 PM
Thank you for the great information! I pretty much thought the same thing about his young age, I really didn't think that MVD was an issue at his young age. Perhaps my vet was just trying to tell me all the risks involved, yet I a still not sure why he'd want to do an echocardiogram right now at a young age (well, this was almost a year ago, back in October). My vet didn't tell me to not neuter Bentley, however after thinking about the risks, I decided to put it off for now and think about it. I had just gotten Bentley and was worried about losing him so soon should something bad happen, and then my father had just passed away that same month, so I was pretty stressed-out. Now that I have had more time to think it over, I'll read the articles you mentioned, and do some more research on it. But, I do agree with you, of all the hundreds of people who have had Cavaliers and other breeds, I think the risk is very very low.

27th August 2006, 10:26 PM
This offers good balanced look at why you might or might not want to neuter.


Generally I do believe the very responsible, informed and careful pet owner can manage an intact dog, male or female. However from working in rescue I know that the vast majority of dogs in pounds are males and of those close to 90% here are intact males. We almost never see a neutered male picked up for roaming. That may be that owners who castrate are more careful owners and keep their dogs indoors, but I can say that pound wardens tell me many of the males they collect will all be hounding a female dog in heat sometimes very viciously. And some have clearly roamed for miles, probably after scenting a female a mile away and then becoming lost.

As Dr Mike says in his replies perhaps the biggest argument for neutering males becomes a quality of life issue for both dog and owner. Neutered males tend to have far fewer undesireable behaviours which makes for a happier pet allowed to integrate more with the family -- less likely to roam/get hit by cars/etc. Males handed in by owners to pounds tend to be handed in as 'unwanted' due to all the things that neutering would likely have helped.

With females there are very clear health benefits to a spay. Also females have to be managed during heats and a lot of pet owners really are not prepared to do this adequately -- hence the constant stream of unwanted puppies into shelters.

In many places including Ireland and the UK I think spaying/neutering gives added safety to your pet as it makes it less attractive if stolen for breeding. I have tags on my dogs that clearly state they are neutered/spayed and chipped.

I won't rehome rescue dogs without a spay/neuter for a combination of the above reasons.

28th August 2006, 12:27 AM
I added that website to my Favorites too, so I can view it again quickly. I also wonder/worry about health issues too, if I choose to not neuter Bentley, someone told me that there is a higher risk of testicular cancer, altho I'm not sure if this is true or not. So far, Bentley is a happy and very quiet and well-behaved dog, basically acts like a neutered dog. And, he will never ever be allowed to roam free. I make sure that they are either in the house, or, if outside, they are with me and on a leash. So, I have lots of reading to do and thinking to do!

31st August 2006, 03:49 PM
I'm sorry but i just now had a chance to read this thread. I wanted to respond to your question. My boy Riley was neutered at 6 months and he had a heart murmur! He had an innocent flow murmur or puppy murmur from the 2nd day we had him. We took him to the vet and she heard the murmur, then 2 cardiologists confirmed this, as well as the echocardiogram we had done. We spoke with our vet about anaesthesia and she thought that he would be alright given that his murmur was not life threatening.
We went ahead with the neuter and Riley did perfectly fine! No problems at all during anaesthesia, although the vet office was prepared to handle that if it came up. I do not regret at all the choice to neuter him, and he came through it absolutley fine. His murmur was almost gone at his last visit (8 months old) and it he will outgrow it.
What i'm trying to say is that your Bentley will probably be fine if you should decide to neuter. Goodness Bentley sounds perfectly healthy, there does not seem to be a lot of reason for you to worry about his heart health at this point. Sure MVD does run in this breed, but please don't let that alone be the reason to prevent you from doing what is best for you and Bentley. Well, that's my 2 cents worth anyway; hope it helps. :)

31st August 2006, 05:16 PM
Hey that's great that the murmur is almost gone! :*nana:

1st September 2006, 01:05 AM
Thank you so much Laura! I do feel much better now after reading your post, I kind of wondered why my vet was so concerned, but maybe he just wanted me to know all the facts and perhaps he didn't realize that I already new about the mitral valve issues. I'm glad that your puppy's murmur is getting better, that is great!

1st September 2006, 03:55 PM
Thanks so much for all of this info . I plan to get Colby neutered at 12-14 months , but this sure does make you think .