View Full Version : How do you get through it ? (MVD)

16th October 2007, 03:18 AM
I have not mentioned this before as I find it too hard to talk about, but today I'm feeling brave.
Harry was diagnosed with a murmur at the age of 2.5 years old. Both his mitral valve and tricuspid valve are effected. I have been devastated since I first learnt of this and used to cry everyday and work myself into a state, I then had a good talk with myself and decided that this was doing me nor him any good and would not change anything so I adopted the make everyday count approach and focus and enjoy the here and now.
This has got me through the last 18 months or so but lately I just feel sick about having to face the gradual deterioration that is to come and I just don't feel I can cope.
I know there is not a choice, I know it is inevitable and I know I am lucky as it has not begun yet and I should just be thankful for what I have at the moment, but I can't shake it.

How do you all do it ?
I have visions of the pain and suffering he will enventually go through and I am not ready and don't feel I ever will be.
Harry has been a special boy ever since I got him with one complication or another due to chronic allergies so I am already used to the extra care needed for a sick doggy, the medication trial and error the regime that must be followed for their comfort and the trips back and forth to the specialist but this feels different as it is so unknown.
Currently Harry has no symptoms of his heart disease, I don't actually think he knows he has it, he is on a normal diet and exercise program and does not take meds for his heart. I sometimes feel this makes it harder as I don't know when it will begin and no one can tell me, all the cardiologist says is he has compensated for the gradual changes that have arisen to date.
Wow this has turned into a lot of waffle of me pouring out my heart but i guess I just want to know how to get through this time ???

Debby with a Y
16th October 2007, 03:35 AM
Oh sweetie!! I'm so sorry to hear about Harry's MVD. I know I would be heartbroken if Barkley got that diagnosis.

Now, I know that cats and dogs are different, but I have a story for you. Ten years ago, I adopted two older Cornish Rex cats who were raised as partners...they were about 6 and 8 at the time. They were diagnosed as having heart murmurs but what could I do? I adopted them from the Humane Society and kept them.

Do you know that those ornery old catties are still with me? The oldest one's heart murmur is pretty advanced, yet he survived a horrific bout with diabetes last year and is now insulin free. His partner is as active and healthy as he was a decade ago.

A funny thing, I had waited a few years to get a dog because I was waiting for them to pass away...I didn't want to stress them out with adding a dog to the household. I finally realized that these old guys aren't going anywhere and meanwhile I was missing out on having a dog!!

What I'm trying to say here is that in my little household, heart murmurs were not a death sentence. I don't know if it is the same for dogs, but for Harry's sake I pray it is.

Many hugs from me and doggy kisses from Barkley.

16th October 2007, 12:28 PM
That's a great story about the cats. :)

I'm really sorry to hear of Harry's diagnosis. :flwr: I'm also glad you spoke out about it as it is such a heavy weight to carry when you are scared about a diagnosis. Remember: there are so many, many different routes these early affected dogs take. Much can be done simply by the lifestyle you give him :) -- keep him trim, even slightly underweight, to put the least stress on that heart. Keep him fit, too, as a fit heart beats less often, recovers more quickly from exercise, and works more efficiently. Don't let him gain weight and let those veins and arteries clog up and close down, making his heart have extra work. (and be sure his breeder knows he has an early onset murmur -- this is very important for any breeder to know).

I must have heard dozens of stories by now of dogs diagnosed at age 2 or 3 with murmurs who *never ever progress* and die of old age, not MVD. Many of them who do progress also only progress very slowly and just keep right on going til something else might take them or they are finally affected by the murmur at age 10 or 12.

As my own vet pointed out, MVD is a very recognised condition with a wide range of treatement approaches and its progression is well understood as are the things that can be done to promote long life. She says in many ways having MVD is a better dignosis for many dogs than say, westies suffering as many do, from hideous and uncomfortable skin conditions for their entire lifetime.

I also think it is very damaging to yourself to worry about things that are not happening now and may never happen. Harry will pick up on your distress and that in turn will worry him. He lives for the moment and we can take a big lesson from that I think. I have cared for several seriously ill animals and disabled animals and have learned so much from them in this regard (which is why I regard these special needs cases as some of the most rewarding animals anyone culd offer a home to! :)). They aren't sitting around worrying about their future -- they are living their present -- and that present is where you are with them and they want to interact and have fun with you now! :) I live with two dogs with syringomyelia that is already symptomatic and they may only have a year or maybe I will have 10 with these dogs. I have no idea. But I am determined that they will live their lives, whatever length they are, fully. It could be my non-SM dog who gets some totally different illness that affects him more. None of us knows the future. With an illness I think whether we have it, or one close to us, animal or human, has it, the challenge and the gift is to live for today doing the things we would want to have done if we or they are not here tomorrow. With SM, I have been dealt a hand of cards I didn't expect with two of my dogs but I don't want to regret how I played them, years from now. Or to be frozen with fear and not play them at all.

The key thing is to be as informed as you can be about the illness, take all the steps to create as many advantages as you can (vet care, good diet, exercise, great home life), and then go enjoy the wonderful dog you have right now. It does get easier as the initial shock changes to determination to provide good care -- but I know from experience that that initial shock of an unexpected diagnosis is very very hard to handle. :flwr:

16th October 2007, 12:28 PM
ohhhhh my heart goes out to you!!! I have no advice about the MVD, but I certainly can understand your pain. It seems to me there are a number of people here that have dogs with MVD and I hope they can give you HOPE & great advice! Your post certainly shows just how deeply you love your Harry and that is something we all have in common.....we all deeply love our precious beloved dogs, otherwise we'd probably not be here at Cavalier Talk. You took a very brave step talking about it and I hope that in doing so your heart will not be so burdened & heavy. I will keep Harry in my thoughts and pray that he lives a very long and happy life. Big hugs to you. :hug:

16th October 2007, 02:21 PM
Will keep little Harry in my most positive thoughts and hope that you will gain much comfort and insight from what Karlin has just said,as she really does cover all aspects of your situation and at the same time conveys a truly wonderful optimism. Isn't it so inspirational to us all to know that there is so much we can do to give our dogs a good quality of life and enjoy it with them despite their illnesses? When my two little darlings were diagnosed with MVD, I decided, after the initial shock that every day was going to be as normal as possible, and we continued to enjoy every day for...more time than I ever dreamed we would have. I do believe however that the low weight and masses of exercise to strengthen their heart muscles contributed immensely.

16th October 2007, 09:35 PM
I am so very sorry to hear about Harry's diagnosis :hug:

Let me tell you about Melissa, a beautiful Tri-colour bitch from the very first litter sired by one of my first 2 boys. Of course she was totally perfect, my rose coloured spectacles ignored her heavy marking and her somewhat nervous disposition. But when I had her heart tested at 1 year old I was told that she had a grade 1 murmur, I was devastated, Melissa went to live with my Mother-in-Law, she eventually passed away aged 12, her heart condition never got any worse not even in her later years, partly due to my in-Laws fastidiously watching her weight and keeping her well exercised.

I have had dogs with murmurs that have onset early in life who have gone on to live long, healthy and full lives, I have also had dogs who have onset in later years who once diagnosed and medicated have only lived another 18 months.

My advice to you? Take each day as it comes, don't treat him like an invalid, enjoy each day for what it is, build many happy memories together, keep him lean and healthy, dose him up with vitamin E and Cq10 both very good for the heart, and last of all deal with the future when it gets here!! :hug: :flwr:

16th October 2007, 09:49 PM
I'm actually going through the same thing now. Graham is my 2nd cavalier but first with MVD. He was at the cardiologist 2 years ago, when he was 3, and clear, and my vet examined him this year and didn't notice anything. However, I just took him to the heart clinic in OHio , and the cardiologist pronounced him 3-4. He did not think he needed meds yet, but suggest I get a baseline xray so we're going Thursday. I fear that since it came on so suddenly, it may progress rapidly as well. Or not.....but while it makes me sad, there is nothing I can do right now. I have dosed him for years on coq10 and E..but not very high doses of the coq10 so I tripled it. The cardiologist said supplements do nothing but I don't buy that, especially on the renal failure list, the supplements did miracles sometimes.

16th October 2007, 10:07 PM
I am so sorry to hear of your Harry's diagnosis. We humans are strong when we need to be and our cavaliers or other pets sometimes help us to be strong. We take each day as it comes and sometimes we need to take each moment as it comes. Life is so full of painful struggles for each of us but if we dwell in those painful times we miss those treasured moments and Harry and you still have so many of those treasured moments.

I have never regretted a moment that I had with each pet I have lost..we want to be with us longer but sometimes that is not meant to be. They are with us for the time that we need them.

My favorite saying that I have heard is ....life is not about the number of breaths we take but the moments that take our breath away.

I am wishing you so many of those special moments with Harry....one at a time.

16th October 2007, 10:30 PM
More on the Vitamin E...............

A close friend of mine had a 5 year old who was diagnosed with intermittant grade 1 murmur, she got to talking to a VERY famous breeder who recommended that she dose him with as high a dose of Vitamin E as she could find, which she did. Over the next few months she did exactly that and her vet/cardiologist did baseline tests, he went from intermittent grade 1 to being clear!

The breeder she spoke to has for a very long time given Vitamin E to all of her stud dogs and brood bitches with very good results, it is also good for fertility, furthermore it is a supplement that you cannot overdo, they will automatically get rid of excess amounts naturally. Of course I give it to my cuddle these days too!

16th October 2007, 10:49 PM
I know it's hard, but please try not to worry too much about Harry.

Four of our cavs have heart murmurs, and one of those in in advanced MVD.

I've been told (and firmly believe) that in final stages of MVD, the dogs do not feel pain. Certainly Declan, who went to th e Bridge last year, never gave us any idea that he was in pain - and he was the kind of boy that screeched at the sight of an injection!

It might never happen, you never know. Just keep him fit, active, a healthy weight and react quickly if he starts to cough. In the meantime, just enjoy a normal life with him.

With Cailean, who's Grade 5-6 advanced MVD, we do enjoy every extra day we have with him. He's been on meds. 16 months now and he may live years or just days from now; we don't know. But we enjoy him and, in an odd way, it makes us appreciate the time with him even more.


17th October 2007, 02:24 AM
I'm sorry to hear about Harry's diagnosis, and I wish you both the best.

I know I don't post a lot on the forum (mainly because I don't have a cavalier ;)) but I do know what you are going through (somewhat)..

I have a GSD mix that was recently diagnosed with a grade III/IV heart murmur and some minor mitral valve regurgitation when she was only a yr and half old (she's almost 2 now), and I felt and still feel the same way that you are feeling, sometimes even now I will break down and cry because she is so young and sometimes I feel like I'm helpless..

But with the help and support of some on-line friends (at my other forum) and the stories that I have read here, I know that there is hope for a good outcome, and that I should make each day count and just try to the best of my ability to make sure that she has the best life that she can have while she's here..

My thoughts will be with you..

18th October 2007, 11:09 AM
<<[vitamin E] is a supplement that you cannot overdo>>

This actually isn't true! Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin and therefore you *can* overdo it. It pretty much takes megadoses to overdo vitamin E, but please don't go dumping bottles on the food ;)

My guy was just diagnosed with MVD, although it's the "normal" senior slow progressing MVD. I give him fish oil, vit E, coQ10 and am looking into hawthorne. My boy is 11 and doing great, lots of exercise and a healthy diet can go a long way ;)

18th October 2007, 06:26 PM
I'm so sorry about Harry, and so young, too... but at least it is not affecting him, and he's enjoying life, and as Karlin says, for dogs that's the most important thing.

Re supplements: Cathryn & co, I have been giving my pair one squirt (as per the bottle) of salmon oil every day. I used to give vetzyme b&e as well, but then read somewhere that if you give fish oil you shouldn't also give additional b/e (it was one or the other, I forget which). I take it I can ignore this and give the tabs as well? Neither of mine have heart trouble to my knowledge although I'm planning on getting Holly screened by a cardiologist when she turns five next year.

18th October 2007, 08:27 PM
How heartwarming this advise is and hope it will reassure you.

Cathy T
19th October 2007, 03:30 AM
I'm so sorry you are going through this. I do know how distressed you are feeling. The one positive thing about MVD is that we know so much about it and ways to treat it. I've heard so many wonderful stories of success with varieties of meds....it helps me to feel hopeful for the future. I think it's wonderful that your doctor doesn't feel there's any need for meds. That's a good thing.

I love Cathryn's advice of taking it one day at a time. One day our pups are going to leave us. We need to enjoy each and every day and feel blessed by every day. When Jake was sick I made myself sick about it. And here we are 3 years later...still doing fine (not MVD but another serious illness). I know it's so easy to say this and so much harder to do it. You could still have so many years left ahead of you....don't dwell on the future, live in the moment! :flwr:

19th October 2007, 07:41 AM
So sorry to hear of your concerns - try to be positive as the dogs do pick up when you are worried, and that makes them more worried.

Remember Harry doesn't know he has anything wrong...

There are many simple things which will help, such as keeping him at the correct weight, regular exercise, not letting him get very over stressed or too hot.

Some natural supplements:

The correct dose of Vitamin E for a Cavalier is 200iu daily {according to an holisitic vet}. Try also to get natural source Vitamin E - not the cheap ones in the supermarket.

Co-Enzyme Q10 {Co-Q10} only has an effect on the heart muscle, not the valves, so is best to be used when there is muscular invovlement - ie the heart is enlarged.

Flaxseed oil is another good supplement for hearts, high in Omega 3, 1/2 tsp daily for a Cavalier - but don't give this if you're feeding a lot of fish anyway.

Cathy T
19th October 2007, 04:04 PM
Remember Harry doesn't know he has anything wrong...

That is a huge point Nicki!! They don't know there is anything wrong with them. A positive attitude means so much to how they feel.

9th November 2007, 11:05 PM
I'm so sorry to hear about Harry :(

When Lucy came to us, it seemed as if it was meant to be, and we couldn't love her any more than if she were a baby. Being part of her life has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Lucy has a heart murmur, it's pretty bad, in July 06 we got a poor outlook from the cardiologist. He was amazed to still see her in January 07, and looking well to boot, then again in July 07 and we're about to make an appointment for her January 08 check up. Who knows what the future holds?

I've often said that I have no idea how I'll cope when the time comes, and I've had horrid nightmares about it on several occasions. But then I think, "why let the unknown ruin today?" And hard as it seems, we know when we first meet them and fall in love with them that their time with us will ALWAYS be less than we want. But the time is so magical, so wonderful, that the pain we suffer when they leave us is worth it. If we didn't feel pain, then we wouldn't know what it feels like to truly love. And very few people will feel love like a cavalier owner!! The pain that we feel is something to be proud of, because it shows just how much our beloved dogs mean to us. But there will be a time to feel like that, and it's not now. Sure, I have days when I look at her and my heart breaks because I know her time with us is short. But I just try not to give into it all the time. The more I give into it, the worse I feel. Mostly I just take a deep breath, give her a hug, and go and do something distracting. Getting upset around her just upsets her, she doesn't understand why I'm crying, and it unsettles her. So I try really hard to keep a lid on it. Not always easy, but it is possible.

To comfort myself, I think about things like, she loves me, she trusts me, and how amazingly lucky we've been to know her at all. When we got her, we knew nothing of any of this stuff (nearly 10 years ago now) and I saw an ad in the paper and bought her. How different my life would have been if I'd never bought that paper. She's brought magic into my life, just as Harry has to you, and it's meant to be.

And when all else fails, I try and remind myself that I'll never get more than I can handle, no matter how devastating it seems at the time.

Cathy T
10th November 2007, 12:42 AM
But then I think, "why let the unknown ruin today?"

What an excellent attitude!!