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View Full Version : Obligation to Discuss Health Issues Openly (Long)



ppotterfield
12th November 2006, 08:51 PM
I joined this forum several months ago but have never posted until today. I am a member of another forum and do post there from time to time. On Friday and over the week-end there was a thread on that forum about breeding responsibilty which got me thinking about the responsibilities of those of us who are "just" pet owners. Buddy, our Cavalier is just 21 months old. He came from a reputable breeder with patella, eye and heart clearances as recommended. I had heard of SM but did not realize its prevalence until later but have kept in touch with his breeder, have discussed SM openly with her and so far there have been no reports of SM in his lines. I know with all of this that all I have really done is minimize, not eliminate the risk of serious disease. I also have come to recognize that we all, not just breeders or brokers, have some responsibility for protecting the health of this wonderful breed. Like many of you, we are in public with our dogs a lot, on walks in an urban neighborhood, on the State Capitol grounds and in the city parks; we take the dogs to the Dog Park three to five times a week and do lots of "charity fund raiser" walks in which we include the dogs; our dogs are with us at PetsMart at least once a week and they also travel with us back and forth from our house in town to our house in the country. In all of these places, people ask me all the time about getting a Cavalier. I could just tell them they are versatile, lovable, little sporting dogs and leave it at that. I find, however, that I frequently do more. I tell folks who asked how wonderful Cavaliers are and then I "lecture" that they can have very serious health issues. I have gotten so that I almost automatically tell people who express even the remotest interest that if they want a Cavalier it is imperative they NOT buy from backyard breeders, petstores and certainly not at auctions, that they need to do their homework before they proceed and insist on health clearances, and that it will be expensive to get a good quality Cavalier which meets these standards. I also tell them that if they cannot afford to get a puppy with good health clearances, for both the puppy and its parents (and if need be grandparents) they should either get another breed or get a dog from rescue, and not perpetuate the problem by buying from those who are not following recommended breeding and health protocols. I know there are some who are taken aback by my forthrightness and many who think I am being "snobbish" or who think I exaggerate, but I firmly believe it is the obligation of everyone who has and loves Cavaliers to give folks who admire our little dogs and want one "just like" them a truthful overview of the risks and obligations of being owned by a Cavalier.

For those of you who made it to the end, thanks for "listening" to my rainy Sunday afternoon ramblings.

Phyllis in West Virginia with Buddy (Mr. Sweetness and a Blenheim
CKCS) and Hadley (Ms. Tomboy and a Clumber Spaniel)

JaneB
12th November 2006, 09:22 PM
Well said. Like you, I believe that even as just "pet" owners we have the same responsiblities as the breeders. I am proud to say I have been asked to leave more than one so called pet store (that sold mill puppies that were obviously poorly bred and ill) for quietly "discussing" the breed with prospective buyers. Loving the breed calls for all Cav owners to be willing to carry the torch of responsible breeding and continued testing. I don't think this can be said often enough. It could sound "snobbish" but I think that most people will appreciate the information if it is given honestly and with the obvious passion we all have for our dogs. Just last week a neighbor friend called to say her aunt was getting ready to purchase (from a classified ad) a Cavalier and she remembered my "speech." We were able to convince Auntie to wait a bit and get her puppy from one of my breeder friends. Okay, I too, am off my Sunday soapbox.

JaneB

arasara
12th November 2006, 11:52 PM
when people ask about getting a Kosmo I usually tell them that unless they love to be pestered and dealing with vet bills, don't even bother. I LOVE Kosmo's friendliness and him wanting to be at my side all the time, but I know some people can't handle that. Also with cavaliers there are lots of potential health problems, like you said. Some people can't be bothered with dealing with them.. I end up coming off a bit snobby sometimes too, but at least we're telling the truth. ;)

Score one for the team!! Good job on educating people! :flwr:

Barbara Nixon
13th November 2006, 12:07 AM
It's happened so often, that I'm no longer surprised when , speaking to fellow owners, they say they have never heard of mvd.

Cathy T
13th November 2006, 02:51 AM
Phyllis - I think you are doing a great thing! I am frequently asked about my dogs because they are so "cute". The first thing I do is warn of the health issues and the attention they need. I've had more than one person say they didn't think that was the dog for them and thanks for being so up front. I think as pet owners we are the majority and it is our responsibility to educate people. This breed is marvelous, wouldn't trade my two for the world, and I will always have a Cavalier. But they aren't suitable for everyone. Just like I couldn't handle a terrier breed...but some people are perfectly suitable for that.

With the increasing popularity of the breed I think it's so important to give people a realistic outlook on what life is like with a Cavalier. So many more are coming into rescue because of health issue and the attention they demand, need and deserve.

Continue to spread your message...I for one completely support you!

Alison_Leighfield
13th November 2006, 08:18 AM
EXCELLENT stuff!!! well done you... :flwr:

all we can do is try to educate the pet buying public and encourage them to demand all these things....all health certificates etc and to find a good friendly breeder that will be there months later that you feel comfortable enough with to discuss any problems that you may have....afterall isn't it all important data to them indicating the health and problems within their lines?

I would have thought this works both ways...feed back on health issues within the breed.

Alison, Wilts, U.K.

LauraD
13th November 2006, 04:51 PM
cl*p Good job Phyllis! I agree as pet owners that we need to let people know the whole story when interested in a Cavalier. I have had people ask me too about Riley and though they expected a short answer, i feel i need to tell them a lot more with a huge emphasis on health and finding a good breeder or rescue. The more we can educate, hopefully the better the outcome for the breed in the long run.
And yes, i too am very shocked when i come across other owners who have never heard of MVD or SM! Again, i feel the need to educate.

Shay
13th November 2006, 05:22 PM
While I thought I did my homework on this breed, most everything I read emphasised MVD. The SM was very vague, and my Vet didn't know that much about it. I wish I had done more research on SM. I don't think if would have changed my mind, cause you always think your dog will be the one that doesn't get it. I now watch Lily for every symptom of SM. I have to stop doing this, and just enjoy her. If she has it, we'll just take care of her, the best we can. That is where the commitment to this breed comes in, you have to love these dogs more than the disease scares you off. They are definitely not for everyone, but this little dog amazes me every day. She is truly like no other dog I have ever owned.

Alison_Leighfield
13th November 2006, 05:35 PM
Shay,

Don't let the worry spoil your special times with your baby, worry when and if...and only if. You have the knowledge if and when you need it.

Lily is adorable :lotsaluv: just enjoy her to the full :flwr:

Alison, Wilts, U.K.

Shay
13th November 2006, 05:49 PM
Thanks Allison....I love this little girl so much already. :l*v: I am going to stop stressing over things I can't control. I did get pet insurance this morning though. Better to be prepared. :xfngr:

Cathy T
13th November 2006, 07:51 PM
Shay - Jake was my first dog in over 18 years and what a challenge. I was constantly worried about him not eating, having diahhrea, getting a bug and on and on. 4 years later we have survived carcinoma and all of our other ups and downs. And we're both still going strong! It's so hard not to worry about every little thing...but it's the best thing you can do. Enjoy your baby and cherish every day. Through the board I learned what was normal and what wasn't. Sure wish I found this board at the beginning...what have saved myself a lot of worry! You will become in tune with your little one and will know instinctively when something isn't right...it just takes a little time. For the most part our dogs are healthy, we just tend to talk more about the problems, looking for answers.

If something comes up and you aren't sure...by all means ask. Many times it will be nothing and can be resolved easily. I was so upset when Jake wasn't eating, I was sure he was sick. Now I know better. Same thing with the upset tummy. Finally resolved. If it's something more serious you can always look to the board for advice on where to go next.

Shay
13th November 2006, 08:31 PM
Thanks Kathy....This board has already been a life saver for me. I've had dogs most of my life. Have a 13 year old Lhasa who lives with my 80 year old Mom now. They love and adore each other. My Lhasa was a very sickly dog and it is amazing to me that she is still here. We had so many close calls with her, but she always pulled through. She is such a little fighter. She loves to eat and not once in all of her illnesses did she lose her appetite. I think that is what kept her going through most of them. She was not a sweet dog though, and didn't like very many people. She was a pill from day one. That is one of the reasons I wanted a Cav. I thought I deserved a sweet dog this time : :lol: . My Old English Sheep dog was a very sweet dog, but very stubborn. She lived to be 14, when her back legs gave out.

I don't want to seem snobby, but these little Cavs are really unlike any dog I've every seen. Lily already is extraordinary in the way she communicates with them. It's almost like she wants to talk. She won't let me out of her sight, follows me everywhere I go, and just loves to be loved (so unlike my Lhasa who only wanted to loved on her terms, and is pretty much a touch-me-not). She plays on the floor with her toys and is happy to play alone. When when she gets tired, she runs over to me and jumps up and down until I pick her up and then she goes to sleep. So funny. She makes me laugh constantly. Lily adores being loved. It is so frustrating to me that these precious babies have so many health problems, but I can see that it would make you love them all the more. I have learned so much from this site and the wonderful members who share their time and experiences with us newbies. I have so much more to learn, and then I don't think I will ever learn all there is to know.

Cathy T
14th November 2006, 12:17 AM
Shay - It made me smile to read your post ;) You're not a snob...they are totally unlike any other dogs...in my opinion. Growing up we've had beagles, lhasas, poodles and chihuahuas. Cavaliers are unlike any other dog I've ever experienced. I didn't know it was possible to love a dog so much and be willing to give up so much for them. And not resent doing it. They have truly made my life fuller.

You're description of Lily is just so sweet :flwr:

Cathy Moon
14th November 2006, 03:02 AM
Whenever someone tells us they want a cavalier, we tell them about the health problems in this breed, in addition to how wonderful cavaliers are. We're very matter of fact about it, not negative, though. The truth is, cavalier owners need to be prepared for serious veterinary bills. And buying from a good breeder is of the utmost importance! :flwr:

MishathePooh
14th November 2006, 10:58 PM
I also tell them that if they cannot afford to get a puppy with good health clearances, for both the puppy and its parents (and if need be grandparents) they should either get another breed or get a dog from rescue, and not perpetuate the problem by buying from those who are not following recommended breeding and health protocols.

I commend you for being forthright and honest with people. I disagree, however, with the notion of getting a different breed if they don't want to buy responsibly. Cavaliers do have their slew of problems, but all breeds are prone to certain genetic disorders. Buying ANY breed from a mill or BYB is so detrimental to that type of dog (and possibly all dogs as the money that goes to mills supports their "breeding" of all the breeds they own, not just the one purchased). ALL breeds should be carefully selected from reputable breeders, not just CKCS.

BarbMazz
14th November 2006, 11:33 PM
Thanks Allison....I love this little girl so much already. :l*v: I am going to stop stressing over things I can't control. I did get pet insurance this morning though. Better to be prepared. :xfngr:

Shay, just a friendly word of warning concerning insurance; most pet insurance carriers will not insure for breed-specific hereditary/genetic problems like MVD and SM in Cavaliers, or hip dysplasia in dogs prone to that, like my Golden Ret., or eye problems in my Springer Spaniel.

Please check the exclusions in your policy. When trying to insure Bentley I found one company only that would cover those things in Cavaliers. Darned if I can remember the company name! It was prohibitively expensive :( , too.

Some companies will also exclude certain disorders or illnesses if your dog has them more than once. I found with VPI, that once Ozzy had his second bout of gastroenteritis (caused by him eating something weird) that the insurance would not cover it. VPI does not cover any breed specific genetic/hereditary disorders.

I have dropped all insurances on my dogs; the cost of the policies was getting too expensive. I bank what I would have been paying to insurance. I figure that is my dog health fund!

Karlin
15th November 2006, 12:31 AM
PetPlan in the US covers inherited disorders.

Insurance is all about personal levels of acceptable risk (and of course the small print of the policy). I actually am a lot less concerned about paying out for something like MVD or SM -- and I speak as someone with an SM dog -- than an emergency where I might have to make decisions based on on cost. It is more debateable however whether to insure more than two dogs, in my own mind -- sticking that money annually into a fund would probably cover any problems one single dog might have. Nonetheless if Leo ever requires the decompression surgery and I opt to go that route it would more than make insurance worth my while. I know quite a few people who after encountering a serious health issue, wished they had insurance. Others might feel they will be unlikely to ever have a cost like that.

I don't feel cavaliers are necessarily more inclined to health problems than some other purebred dogs (so with all purebreds, a good breeder is vital) -- however, it is true that the breed now has two very serious health issues in SM and MVD with the former being hugely expensive to diagnose and treat in many cases. Patellas are also very costly to do. And there are other very unfortunate proboems that are known too, like episodic falling, curly coat syndrome, dry eye, and epilepsy. Come to think of it, I don't know that many people with cavaliers -- though there are going on 900 board members here, probably under 200 have been regular posters at any time -- yet even in that small group, I know people who have encountered every one of these breed issues, some of them supposedly quite rare, which IS quite worrying. Maybe I need to revise my view.

rory
15th November 2006, 01:22 AM
Petcare has covered SM, too. Not sure if they will continue to do so.

Shay
15th November 2006, 02:08 AM
I had taken out VPI through my husband's work, and after getting responses from some members on the post, who had PetCare, which does pay for hereditary/genetic illnesses, I cancelled VPI and went with PetCare.

If anyone has used PetCare for hereditary/genetic illnesses, please let me know how it worked for you. Also, if you used for SM or MVD, and can you use any vet at anytime. The cost was the same for both companies, however, VPI pays hardly anything, but pays Wellness benefits, (not much). PetCare pays much more per ilness, but dies not have Wellness. I can cancel PetCare at anytime.

Thanks

BarbMazz
15th November 2006, 02:54 AM
I had taken out VPI through my husband's work, and after getting responses from some members on the post, who had PetCare, which does pay for hereditary/genetic illnesses, I cancelled VPI and went with PetCare.

If anyone has used PetCare for hereditary/genetic illnesses, please let me know how it worked for you. Also, if you used for SM or MVD, and can you use any vet at anytime. The cost was the same for both companies, however, VPI pays hardly anything, but pays Wellness benefits, (not much). PetCare pays much more per ilness, but dies not have Wellness. I can cancel PetCare at anytime.

Thanks

Oh, good, I'm glad you found an alternative to VPI!

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your new avatar!! :lotsaluv:

Shay
15th November 2006, 03:41 AM
Thanks Barb!!!!! That's my husband holding his little girl. He adores this baby. She was my early Christmas present, but guess who she sleeps curled right up next to at night, yep, my hubby who never grew up with dogs in the house. It is too funny.:lol: :lol: :lol:

Cathy T
15th November 2006, 03:45 AM
Shay - Petcare is the one I'm switching to. I had a policy through AKC and it sucked (sorry but it did!). Barb - same thing here with the gastrointeritis and VPI. Once Jake saw the vet for diahhrea they considered it a pre-existing condition and wouldn't cover it again...no matter what caused it. My vet wrote them a letter and copied all of my medical records explaining why the exclusion should be removed. They didn't remove it. They did cover his cancer surgery and paid a good portion of the bill. But Shelby's patella was not covered.

Roxanne did extensive research into Petcare and many people have switched over to them. Need to pull that dang paperwork out and get my rear in gear and get my two switched over.

I'm not concerned about routine things or even things like upset tummies. But boy did the insurance come in handy when Jake's cancer was diagnosed 3 weeks after we had paid out $1500 for Shelby's knee surgery. At a cost of about $60 a month to cover both of mine, it would take a long time to accrue enough to cover something like his cancer surgery again.

Shay - your new photo is adorable!

Shay
15th November 2006, 04:02 AM
Thanks Cathy....It got really cold here last week and after taking Lily out early in the morning she came in shivering like mad. I bought her the little pink wool coat, with big brown barrel buttons. Looks just like a coat I had as a kid. Just had to take her pic in it. You should see my big 200 lb hubby putting that little pink coat on her to take her out. It is soooooo funny.

Alison_Leighfield
15th November 2006, 08:12 AM
You should see my big 200 lb hubby putting that little pink coat on her to take her out. It is soooooo funny.

Thats my kinda man!!!...a big warm heart for such a tiny, beautiful girl :lotsaluv: ....

Alison, Wilts, U.K.

Shay
16th November 2006, 03:32 AM
Yep.....mine too. He's a pretty good egg :l*v:

Maxxs_Mummy
17th November 2006, 10:45 PM
awwww that'a a lovely warm thought of a big man wrapping his baby up warm :flwr:

My own hubby, a big man too will let the boys under the duvet when it gets cold and is sooo soppy with them too - it's wonderful :lotsaluv:

Phyllis, wonderful that you are campaigningfor the pups :flwr:

Alison and I got paid the ultimate compliment the other day - we got called Cavalier Anoraks :lol: :lol: :lol: So rest assured, you're not the only one ;) :lol: