View Full Version : Cautionary Tale: How could one dog have so much wrong?

15th September 2006, 02:57 PM
I am so bummed out about Pippin. Secondly Merry. I was going to get Pet Care Insurance, because it covered the hereditary conditions. However, to get coverage the conditions cannot be already diagnosed by a vet and you must present vet notes to the insurance company. My vet is so thorough that he listed Pippin's possible patella problems (grade 2) and heart murmur (grade 1) this past March at his last annual visit. Then Merry's possible eye cataract problems are notated.

Here is the thing. With my first and second cavaliers I had read about the health concerns, but I didn't think it could happen to me. Not until at 16 months, Pippin's vet noticed that he had the start of cataracts. Merry is his half-sister and 10 months younger. The vet noticed something odd about her eyes when she was 17 months old.

I took Pippin to a great eye vet and Pippin's eyes got worse this year. She recommended surgery on both eyes this past June when Pippin was 2 yrs 10 mo. old. He is doing great now. The surgery and follow up visits cost $3000. I had Merry looked at too and she may or may not develop the same cataracts. I am supposed to bring her back next year for a follow up. I have told their breeder about both of their eye problems and asked her to stop breeding the dog that is spreading the condition. My eye vet says that it is definitely hereditary.

Merry has always scratched her ears and hind quarters. She has done so since she was 3 months old. I took her to a dermatology vet last May when she was almost 2 yrs old. She was put on a strict diet of only rabbit & potato (IVD) vet dog food and the scratching stopped totally. It was definitely a food allergy. However, in the back of my head is always the idea that she could have SM. I hope not.

In July, I was thinking that the worst was over. I can deal with juvenille cataracts. Merry's problem is solved. I can afford another cataract surgery, if Merry needs it. But now Pippin is limping more often. He just turned 3 years old last month. He doesn't limp all the time, but I think his patella is getting worse. Now that I have read his vet chart, I see that he has a grade 1 heart murmur too.

I know I screwed up and bought two cavaliers from a back yard breeder. That breeder didn't know what she was doing. She was only looking at the family trees of the dogs and how they looked. The parent dogs were too young to show most of the hereditary conditions that only show up older. Her vet told her her dogs were healthly, so she didn't pay for the extra tests she should have.

I learned my lesson. I did my research and found a very good breeder the next time around with Luke & Jolly. But how could one dog have so much wrong with him (Pippin)?


Pippin and Merry are both wonder dogs. Pippin especially is extremely obedient. You can leave him off leash. He always comes when he is called. He is a perfect gentleman. But I am looking at thousands of dollars in vet bills over his lifetime. Merry may have to have the same cataract surgery in her future. But she is so loving and brings so much joy. I wouldn't trade them for anything, but man am I sad about their situation.

I read on one of the webboards that their dog with patella problems was on Cosequin. I used that on my elderly basset hound before and it worked great. So I'll try that and see if it helps Pippin. I am hoping to extend his mobility and stave off surgery for as long as I can. I am also going to get Pippin's weight down. He is not fat, but I think I should see a more defined waist one him. He is a tall cavalier and currently weighs 28 pounds. I am going to see if I can get him a few pounds lighter and see if this helps.

I don't know where the conditions will take them & me. I just have to enjoy them today. But this sucks!

15th September 2006, 03:16 PM
Ohhh Charleen..... :hug: hugs to you and pooches. It never seems fair does it, is your insurance lifelong?

15th September 2006, 04:08 PM
I cancelled the insurance after having it only one day. Because it won't cover any of my dogs illnesses, since they are already diagnosed.

I could kick myself for not getting the vet records first. I paid the annual premium for 3 dogs up front, to save money. There was an per dog per month installment charge, so it was cheaper to pay the whole year up front.

I am hoping Pet Care Insurance will give me a full refund, since I paid one day and asked them to cancel the next day. I haven't used the insurance, so they should do it.

16th September 2006, 05:28 AM
Charleen, wouldn't it be potentially valuable to have the insurance for other conditions that might develop? SM hasn't been diagnosed yet for example. That could get quite expensive, and the dogs being related, they both could end up with other things. for example, if i understood you right, Pippin is diagnosed with patellar issues, but Merry is not. So for Merry it would not be a pre-existing condition and she would be covered if later, she too develops the condition. Also if i understood you right, Pippin, but not Merry, has a heart murmur. Merry might develop MVD later. Wouldn't she then be covered if that happens, saving you money on health care costs for her? And what about Luke and Jolly?

I am probably missing something here--i think you said that cataracts for Merry and Pippin, and heart and patella for Pippin will not be covered, but this would not mean that other expensive conditions wouldn't be covered, and heart and patella would still be covered for Merry (and Luke and Jolly?)
Did i misunderstand you?

Anyway, i'm really sorry your sweet dogs are having health problems. Hopefully you won't have any problems with your other dogs who come from a respectable breeder. Unfortunately though, getting a cavalier from a respectable breeder can't be a guarantee against common cavalier health problems since those problems are so common and inbred. If i had gotten my doggy from a reputable breeder, or if i get a second one from a reputable breeder, I'll still be getting the health insurance. But in my case, that's because I can't afford huge medical bills. I'm getting toward the end of my career and looking at retirement, fixed income, and not a very big income, i don't own my home, and it would not work out for me to incur heavy debt from vet bills, so for me, insurance has to be part of the program.

I hope your dogs stay as healthy as they are, you've sure been through enough and so have they and at such a young age. It's great that you have been so thorough in providing them great medical care!

One other thought--you said your vet noted a grade 1 murmur for Pippin. Does he continue to hear the murmur on subsequent exams? Maybe if you got Pippin ascultated by a cardiologist, they might not hear a murmur, and he might not have that pre-existing conditioin after all.

I do think that Petcare should and will refund any time they did not cover. If they covered one day, they'll charge you for that, and refund the rest of the payment, so you should get almost a fully refund. i'll be curious to know what happens with that.

16th September 2006, 08:12 AM

think twice here, there is still MVD, PSOM, ALLERGIES and SM, all very possible life long expensive conditions....might be worth keeping just for that alone.

Give it some more thought.

Alison, Wilts, U.K.

16th September 2006, 08:16 AM
Charleen, :flwr:

I also meant to say that my heart goes out to you with your problems, having lost four cavaliers in just under two years all through major illnesses I can only tell you to love them while you have them and don't worry about what isn't there at that moment. It is hard. :flwr:

Alison, Wilts, U.K.

16th September 2006, 03:49 PM
Hi Charleen,

I agree with Alison and Judy on this one. I would most definitely keep the insurance as Cavs can cost so much at the vets from the other conditions listed and more.

Maxx's SM wasn't diagnosed until he was 6 yet the scan alone was almost £1000!

I am so sorry that you have poorly babies - give them huggles from me. I wish I could shoot all of these darned backyard breeders, it makes me so angry that they breed their dogs with no thought or concern about health issues for the pups :x

Cathy Moon
17th September 2006, 06:48 AM
Charleen, it isn't fair and it isn't easy with all the health problems these sweet little cavs can get. :( Two of my furbabies have early onset low grade murmurs and I try not to worry - just want to stay in the now and enjoy them as much as I can.

I'm thinking about your Pippin's patella. I don't know what grade it is, but wanted to share my experience with luxating patella. When my India had a knee injury before age 1, she developed a low grade luxating patella, which progressed to a grade 2-3 over a few months. I did a lot of research and found that if corrective surgery is delayed too long the dog can begin to develop arthritis in the knee at an early age, which surgery cannot fix. We met with our vet and decided to move forward with the surgery right away. It was successful, and now her knee is as good as a normal dog's. I don't know anything about Pippin's grade, but feel I should mention about the arthritis.