View Full Version : Heart Testing

23rd July 2008, 12:52 PM
Can anyone tell me what the difference is between a breeder having a dog heart tested by a vet or a cardiologist? Why is it so important to get it done by a cardiologist? What tests does the cardiologist do that a vet can't? Aren't all vets trained to check hearts? Just wondering.

23rd July 2008, 01:10 PM
Because vets are not specialists and routinely miss half of early low grade murmurs (http://board.cavaliertalk.com/showthread.php?t=8737), the type that would be most common in breeding age dogs. This means vets are not reliable enough for such important information for breeding. They are GPs, not specialists.

The US Clubs and Swedish Club only advise using cardiologists. The UK Club has more recently decided to recommend using cardiologists, not vets on advice of their own heart specialist advisor.

See: http://www.premiercavalierinfosite.com/mitralvalvedisease.htm



23rd July 2008, 01:25 PM
Read all that info. So the vet and the cardiologist do the same test IE. listen to heart with stethoscope, but because the cardiologist is a specialist he will be able to recognise a mummer more readily than a vet?

23rd July 2008, 01:33 PM
Yes. It is very hard to hear grade 1 and 2 murmurs. I know of vets missing grade 4 murmurs. For breeders, it is crucial for those early murmurs to be heard as they indicate dogs that are not acceptable for breeding. In the same way, respiratory specialists can interpret breathing sounds easily for conditions that will be missed by GPs.

Many CKCS clubs worldwide offer very low cost cardiologist clinics at dog shows and pet owners can also attend these. Unfortunately the Irish club has never done this. I am actually trying to organise a future clinic/seminar on MVD with the cardiologist at UCD in Ireland, if we can get enough people to make it worthwhile.

23rd July 2008, 01:35 PM
That would be great to organise something like that. More work on getting breeders to do this is definately needed over here. Is it expensive for breeders to get a cardiologist to test their dogs?

23rd July 2008, 02:27 PM
Our Greater Chicago Cavalier club (not a huge club), has a match each year (this is the 6th year) that has a veterinary cardiologist and ophthalmologist come in and examine dogs. We have to guarantee them 40 dogs each to get them to come out. They usually see about 60 or more. We have used the same doctors each year and it is a win/win situation.

23rd July 2008, 09:24 PM
Since MVD is so prevalent in the breed, I wonder if they have done studies to follow offspring of reputable breedings from heart clear parents (at 2 1/2) and grandparents (age 5 & up). Does the heart eventually fail anyway, (just later in life) in the majority of those Cavaliers?

Also, assuming your dog is from heart clear stock, do you just schedule a cardiac specialist appointment yearly to give a listen, or is a well check with your regular vet sufficient?:confused:

Cathy T
23rd July 2008, 09:45 PM
Also, assuming your dog is from heart clear stock, do you just schedule a cardiac specialist appointment yearly to give a listen, or is a well check with your regular vet sufficient?:confused:

I can give you my input on this.....I take mine to the health clinics every year for a check by a cardiologist regardless of the status of their parents, grandparents. I don't feel my vet's analysis is sufficient.

23rd July 2008, 09:53 PM
MVD is prevalent in many (most) toy breeds. Delaying early onset is the hope of reputable breeders.

A heart clearance doesn't mean anything to me unless it is done by a board certified cardiologist.

23rd July 2008, 10:22 PM
The US, Canadian and UK clubs are really great in offering low cost exams to both breeders and pet owners. :) I'm sure other clubs internationally do this too.

It is a more expensive option if you go privately, and as with any specialist, costs much more than going to a vet, but this isn't an issue for a breeder who cares about the health and quality of his/her lines. :thmbsup:

For a detailed explanation of the basis for the MVD protocol, research that shows it works, and why cardios are essential for exams rather than vets for breeding dogs: http://cavalierhealth.com/mvdprotocol.htm . This is a tiny summary:

Since the 1998 report, studies conducted by veterinary heart and genetic specialists have confirmed the efficacy of the MVD Breeding Protocol. In a 2000 research study of 4,255 CKCS heart examinations, Dr. James Wood of the Animal Health Trust in the United Kingdom reported that:

• MVD is the major killer of Cavaliers under 10 years of age.

• Veterinary cardiologists were better able to identify early mitral valve murmurs than were non-specialist veterinarians.

• The parent's heart status can predict the offspring's future heart status.

• The offspring were ten to twenty times more likely to be free of MVD murmurs if the sire's heart was clear of murmurs at ages nine to eleven years.

Bruce H
24th July 2008, 12:15 AM
Yes, definately it has to be a cardiologist to mean anything. The heart clinics at the shows around here have gone up to (I believe) $35 for the cardiologist from the U of Minnesota. For that cost there's really no excuse for a breeder not to use a cardiologist. If we are looking for stud service, the ONLY thing we will accept is a clear heart from a board certified cardiologist.

As an example, several years ago when we took our dogs to a heart clinic, one of the boys showed up with a grade 1 just short of 5 years old. We had him checked again a couple months later with the same result. When we placed him, the new owner had him checked by the vet and the vet didn't hear a thing! In fact, the vet didn't hear anything until the boy was over 8 years old! When the vet finally heard the murmur, we had them bring the boy to the cardiologist at the U where he was graded with a grade 2.

24th July 2008, 12:44 AM
Oh, absolutely I could see the strict testing by a cardiologist if I was a breeder. I was more concerned about my baby here and wanting to know how often to test for my own peace of mind. Cathy T. that is a good idea to either visit yearly clinics or just pay to get a checkup. Money is no object when it comes to Dottie. Just want to do the right thing by her!:thmbsup:

24th July 2008, 12:53 AM
Marianne, check with your regional club and also Rod keeps a listing of all clinics on cavalierhealth.org. These include all breeds, but any breed club is generally happy to have a dog brought for testing. Sometime you do need to make an appointment in advance for the event. Many people go annually starting at age 1 but many feel murmurs are unlikely to show before age 2.

Wow, $35 for an auscultation! I'd love to have that opportunity over here.

24th July 2008, 09:02 PM
Thank you Cathy T. and Karlin! Will watch for a testing clinic in my area.