View Full Version : My dog may have MVD

20th May 2008, 05:55 AM
I am new to this website and had to google it for moral support. I will attach pics of my beautiful 2 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels very soon!! Today I brought our 11 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (Spencer) in to the vet for his 6 month checkup. I saw concern on our vets face as she listened to our beautiful blemin's heart beat.
After the examination, she told me of her concern about a murmur and immediately I thought of MVD. It had finally gotten to our dog. They took him back to a room for some xrays and came back with the results of him having an enlarged heart and some (not alot of fluid) in the lungs. My vet was going to email Spencer's xray results to a cavalier heart specialist (perhaps a cardiologist) in California. She said after she gets the diagnosis back within 24 hours we will determine next steps in therapy for our beloved pet. We are actually devastated by the news and just want to hear some TLC about how to react to this. We have another Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Sophie who is 8 and is the sister of Spencer. We hope and pray she wont fall into the same condition.
We have noticed some changes in Spencer's sleeping patterns. He gets up alot during the night and wonders around our 4500 sq ft home. He has had this cough for about two weeks which we dismissed to "kennel Cough" from when we take him to our groomers. So these are all new behaviors. We are wondering if he is in the very early stages of the disease and that we can treat it with meds, diet, etc??
What a horrible day. We feel as if a part of hearts were ripped out. I read some of the blogs and some of them helped me deal with the immediate shock and how to deal with the condition. Who knows perhaps we can have him around another 5 years with treatment patterns?? Please any assistance would help.

Baton Rouge LA

Barbara Nixon
20th May 2008, 12:43 PM
I've been there, twice.

Izzy, at 7, was diagnosed, at routine vaccination time, as having a middle sized murmur and this was a big shock, because of his breeding. he had no symptoms for a year, then developed a cough, which just like you, I first assumed was kennel cough, as he had been in contact with it. By the time he got a cough, his murmur was off the scale, yet drugs gave him two more good years.

A few weeks after Izzy's diagnosis, I was told that Monty, too had a very mild murmur, barely noticeable (he would have been 9). Last year it was up to lower middle and now at !2 and a half is slightly more , but he only developld a cough a few months ago. He sometimes paces at night, but that is something he has always done, now and then. ( He wants to be on the bed, but is more comfortable on the floor.)

Monty only usually has a single hack, early in the morning, but this could be brought on by the fact that he licks himself. The vet said he is borderline drugswise and there is debate about thier effects at this early stage of heart failure, so he gave me the choice. As there was nothing to lose, I went for drugs and , now, he's on Fortekor and Frusemide.

At three month checkup, the good news was that the drugs have helped as his heart rate is lower, his pulse good, lip colour and lips reaction also good.

The main heart drugs in UK are Fortekor and Vetmedin ( Izzy ended up taking both) with Frusemide, a generic, which comes under various names like Frusecare to help with water retention.

20th May 2008, 01:56 PM
I believe it's more typical for the primary care Vet to refer you to a cardiologist at this point . I suppose this route will be ok, but it's pretty "indirect". Please bear in mind that your boy is 11 years old which is pretty amazing for a late onset murmur, and that most Cavaliers will face this at some point. Meds will probably make him feel much better. There is some discussion about at what point to use Pimobendan, which is the newest treatment but usually the cardiologist "save" it until the murmur is very substantial. That is why I believe I would be seeking the direct care of a cardiologist who will probably want to do an echo or doppler.

Barbara Nixon
20th May 2008, 04:41 PM
I think your Pimobendan is branded as Vetmedin here. Both my present vet, who is a heart specilaist and my former vets, prefered to use Fortekor first of all, while others go for Vetmedin. The Fortekor has certainly slowed Monty's heart, though his rate is nowhere near as bd as Izzy's, who had a larger murmur. Izzy was put onto Vetmedin, when he began to have breathing difficulties, brought on by warmer weather.

Cathy Moon
22nd May 2008, 12:41 AM
Hugs for Spencer and you. :hug:

In the US, your vet may possibly prescribe Enalapril (an ACE inhibitor) now that his heart is enlarged. Our cardio vet said that's what our Geordie will get if they see any physical changes in his heart, since his diagnosis changed fairly quickly from grade 1 to grade 3.

He may also get additional meds to help with the cough. I hope you both feel better soon. :flwr:

22nd May 2008, 09:34 PM
Sorry to hear about the diagnosis on your blenheim boy.

At his age it would be pretty unusual for a cavalier *not* to have a murmur and it is wonderful that he has had good health to such a ripe age -- about half of cavaliers have murmurs by age 5. Murmurs and heart problems are the single most common health problem in elderly dogs of all breeds and mixes, so he has actually done very well by cavalier standards to have a murmur appear and some congestion at this golden stage of his life. :flwr: Five years would probably be unlikely for an additional lifespan for most cavaliers -- 10-12 would be a pretty good age for this breed and 10 is generally considered the average lifespan for cavaliers so your fellow really has been doing very well and with treatment, should have some good time left yet with you. :)

By the time the dog has a cough that generally indicates he is in the more advanced stages of the disease -- when fluid starts to gather in the lungs -- but as others note there are many medications that ease this and can give quite a good quality of life for a while yet, but it really depends on the dog. If he is coughing he will have had the murmur for some time most likely, and it has slowly worsened; but most vets only treat when the dog starts to cough and show related symptoms. Vets generally have a hard time accurately hearing murmurs, or hearing them at all til they get fairly advanced, so often with this breed it is recommended to see a cardiologist annually anyway. The local clubs often have low cost clinics at shows, where you can take the dogs for just a basic cardiologist check.

As the others say, it would make far more sense for your vet to refer you to a vet cardiologist nearby I'd think. Most vet schools would have such a specialist and your vet should be able to find who is closest to you or else, contact the regional cavalier club. You should really directly visit a cardiologist, not go by a long distance recommendation. Given the close relationship of your two dogs I'd also have a cardiologist do an auscultation (listen to the heart) of your girl as well to see if she is clear.

I am sure you will find this very informative and helpful too:


23rd May 2008, 04:13 AM
Thanks to you all for all the suggestions, information, and support. Our vet sent Spencer's xray's to a board certified radiologist in California. The results in the xray showed Spencer having an enlarged heart but very little fluid (if any) in his lungs. OK HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF!! Our vet and the radiologist were shocked by the results. Spencer is 11 and Sophie is 7. They are actually brother and sister. Sophie is a tricolor and Spencer is a blemin. I called their breeder and found out that both of their parents are still living with signs of early stages of mvd at the ripe ages of 13 and 14 respectively. I was told that Spencer too was in the very early stages of MVD and that it can be treated with meds and diet. We take such good care of our Cavaliers and we pray to God every day for their good health and for bringing us two very good healthy cavalier king charles spaniels blood lines.

Tomorrow we take Spencer back to the vet for them to do an Echo exam and to talk to a cardiologist specialist at the Louisiana State University Vet school. We would just feel better (no discredit to our vet) to have a specialized experienced Cavialier Cardiologist doc look him over in full detail. I will definately write down the names of the meds y'all suggested and bring with us as well as inquire all about the prognosis and how we can deal with this issue. We were so relieved when we heard there was little fluid if any in his lungs. The cough is occurring though occasionally and makes us very concerned. As you are aware, Louisiana is so very hot and humid and summer has arrived. We walk them very early in the am When it is cooler (well mid 70's). I do find him breathing more rapidly than I ever noticed before in past summer months. I will mention that to the specialist.

I am wondering if I should have Sophie checked as well? Just to be safe. Now I guess you can say mvd is all over our radars as they both age.

We have even discussed getting another cavalier as they both age. We love this breed so much. Yeah they may have some health issues as they age BUT we wouldnt trade them for all the joy they have brought into our lives!!! I will keep y'all posted. Again any of your thoughts or suggestions, We will definately take to heart and mind when dealing with Spencers diagnosis.

Barbara Nixon
23rd May 2008, 01:59 PM
Mvd does affect dogs in so many different ways. Though Izzy had a top grade murmur, coughed a lot and his breathing was too rapid, at times, he only had fluid retention for his last few months and this was when he was given Frusemide to go with the other two drugs.

Like Izzy , Monty has been started on Fortekor (benazepril hydrochloride) , but the vet is using Frusemide to make sure no fluid builds up. Beyond being thin and having a , usually single, morning cough, Monty , at 12 , is fine, yet his half brother was diagnosed and rapidly deteriorated at about 7.

Vets' advice is that unless the dog sufers distress , treat them as normal. I did this with Izzy, but for his last few months, didn't walk him out and didn't let strangers in the house, as both made him excited and brought on coughing bouts. However, we did continue his obedience work, which he loved, as my opinion is that a shortes happy life is better than a longer one with upsetting restrictions.