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View Full Version : Asking a hard question? But one I have wondered about?



3kids1cav
8th May 2012, 12:23 AM
Bentley thank goodness is healthy, for now, knock on wood, his heart is clear, aside from a scratch here and there on the ears and a good doggie shake once in a while he seems to be sm free, for now. (though I would love to have an mri just to ease my paranoia) But the topic with DH and I has come up recently of what would we do if he was diagnosed with mitral Valve or SM? We originally said when we choose cavaliers as our breed of choice, that we would have our dog put to sleep, if they had a painful debilitating illness, but now we have learned more about treatment options, and we are so attached to our Bentley (didn't expect that lol) that we have been saying would try to treat our pets. (no drastic measures like surgery, we did that once with a very sick cat and it did not work and our cat passed away with in 8 hours, so with that as our experience, surgery is not for our pets now)

I guess we would cross the bridge when we came to it (I have felt super paranoid lately about sm and mitral valve, like obsessed with every little scratch, freak out at the vet when he goes to check his heart and hold my breath ect.) But I wonder if anyone here has chosen to euthanize because their pet was diagnosed and they just did not want to see them suffer another minute, and not treat at all? I have had two very sick cats who I have treated, and honestly sometimes I think I should have just let them go and not suffer at all, but then sometimes I am glad for the extra time I had with the one that treating worked on.)

3kids1cav
8th May 2012, 12:25 AM
I may have posted this in the wrong forum, I meant for it to be in health library, if that is where it goes, please move it if needed. Sorry in advance.

sunshinekisses
8th May 2012, 12:53 AM
This is a very personal decision and there really isn't a right or wrong answer. I feel if the owner has consulted with a vet and their family, what they have decide is best.

I don't think MVD as painful. The choice is treating your pet with meds and lengthening their life vs not treating and having your pet go into heart failure sooner. My rescue male is still doing okay without the meds...he has quite a few days where he still acts like a puppy and my vet seems to think he is doing okay still. We will medicate him when the vet tells us, and continue treatment until he goes into heart failure. I think that is the only option for our family. I could never euthanize a dog because of MVD.

I have no experience with SM....yet.

3kids1cav
8th May 2012, 02:21 AM
This is a very personal decision and there really isn't a right or wrong answer. I feel if the owner has consulted with a vet and their family, what they have decide is best.

I don't think MVD as painful. The choice is treating your pet with meds and lengthening their life vs not treating and having your pet go into heart failure sooner. My rescue male is still doing okay without the meds...he has quite a few days where he still acts like a puppy and my vet seems to think he is doing okay still. We will medicate him when the vet tells us, and continue treatment until he goes into heart failure. I think that is the only option for our family. I could never euthanize a dog because of MVD.

I have no experience with SM....yet.

I feel the same way about MVD.. just watch him until he is in pain. It is the SM that I wonder about. It looks so so painful even in mild cases, It makes me want to cry to watch. I am pretty sure that if we found out Bentley had severe SM ever, that we would choose to not treat and let him go, just personal since I have watched pets suffer.. and for us it is harder, to see them in pain every day. Not sure if it was mild sm. probably treat and see if treatment worked. But who the heck knows, I obsess over it though all the time. I LOVE cavaliers so much they are the best breed ever, but honestly I think Bentley will be the only one I own, I did not realize how attached and in love I would fall, and how upset I would be at the idea of him ever being sick and in pain and of course no longer having him as my sweet companion. I have been researching dogs that have few health problems lately :( none of them are Cavaliers though.

MomObvious
8th May 2012, 02:45 AM
Ok sorry if I offend you but saying this (honestly) but I think your a little too paranoid about "possible" health issues. Sure, once you know what "could" happen it always is the back of your mind BUT from what I understand cavaliers can sense sad emotions sometimes. You may be adding to the stress in the whole house thinking of the "what ifs". You have children do you sit around and thinking about the "what ifs" about their health? I mean there has to be some medical issue that runs in your family, high bloodpressure, cancers something you don't over think everyday do you? There are few sure things in life, you NEVER get to have a crystal ball and see into the future. Treat your dog like you do your children, watch them for signs of illness but don't play the "what if" game. I mean you married your husband for better or worse, in sickness or in health its that the same way with your children and dogs???? Whatever happens happens deal with it then. Enjoy your dog, love him. Again, I'm just giving you some advice take it or not but please know I'm saying this from the right place and I hope your not offended.
Melissa

3kids1cav
8th May 2012, 03:57 AM
Ok sorry if I offend you but saying this (honestly) but I think your a little too paranoid about "possible" health issues. Sure, once you know what "could" happen it always is the back of your mind BUT from what I understand cavaliers can sense sad emotions sometimes. You may be adding to the stress in the whole house thinking of the "what ifs". You have children do you sit around and thinking about the "what ifs" about their health? I mean there has to be some medical issue that runs in your family, high bloodpressure, cancers something you don't over think everyday do you? There are few sure things in life, you NEVER get to have a crystal ball and see into the future. Treat your dog like you do your children, watch them for signs of illness but don't play the "what if" game. I mean you married your husband for better or worse, in sickness or in health its that the same way with your children and dogs???? Whatever happens happens deal with it then. Enjoy your dog, love him. Again, I'm just giving you some advice take it or not but please know I'm saying this from the right place and I hope your not offended.
Melissa

Not offended, because I know you are right. :/ I get super ocd over things and freak out over them. My husband and I call them my "episodes" It is awful. I need to take this advice, it is just so hard when I do this, I meet one person with a cav with health problems and I start researching it way more than I originally did, I knew "cavs can get sm, their skull is too small, it hurts, they air scratch. bam.. then I started researching it more after meeting a cav with it and ack, It started consuming me. I do it with everything. Isn't that awful. :( I am sorry. I will try to stop freaking out. Just love my Bents for who he is and deal with issues if they come up. I am a huge what if'r and it is something I wish I didn't do. (you should have seen me last fall when the pre school wanted to take my second baby on a 15 passenger van with no car seat.. I was a wreck.. and btw it did not happen lol.. psyco mom stepped in)

tracey30
8th May 2012, 11:18 AM
I totally understand where your coming from, because I'm just the same! There's a fine line between being informed about conditions such as sm and completely obsessing over them and it's fair to say I crossed that line lol! Like you this is my first ever dog, so it's hard to determine what's 'normal' dog behaviour and behaviour which may be a concern, especially considering some of the symptoms can be seen in all dogs, what is classed as excessive for example? I'm finally starting to relax a little and enjoy my pup. We all have to hope that we never have to deal with sm but if we do we now have the knowledge to get our dogs the help they need asap and that can only be a good thing.

Tracey

pippa
8th May 2012, 02:44 PM
I can see why you worry but please (and I men no offence) try to stop or it will ruin a beautiful time with your bentley.

I do the 'hold your breath' thing when I bring mine for check ups and it's listen to the heart time also but other than that I just enjoy them. If they get unwell for any little reason I get a day or two when I worry about what if's but it will do me or them no good to continue worrying. Thankfully none of mine have SM.

Last April the shock came when I took Pippin in for his health check, I held my breath and then was told there was a murmur,it was the dreaded MVD, further investigation showed more problems with his heart, he already had epilepsy but was doing fine on medication, he is on heart meds now also and is doing very well, he doesn't know he has anything wrong and we don't really treat him any differently just a few tweaks to exercise routine and playing games.He is over 8yrs old and behaves like a puppy, if there is mischief to be found he's there getting into it:)
DJ is almost 8 and as far as we know heart clear (he is due for check up next week, so fingers crossed) Gus is 10yrs and 5 and a half months and is heart clear, no murmur and a very strong heart, he has some disc disease and a bit of arthritis but he doesn't need to be on constant medication and is still active (very!).

All in all I have three senior doggies and hope they will still be with me for a long time yet. I refuse to worry and ruin my wonderful moments with them. Snuggles on the bed/sofa, daily walks - although short, barking for biscuits, Pippin and DJ play fighting and Gus looking at them like they are mad! (not ideal for Pippin but as he starts it I refuse to ruin it for him and supervise until he's had enough and then call them with a distraction, which is time up on my lap usually)

As I type this they are all in bed resting after their walk and biscuit, they are not worrying about the future and neither am I. We will deal with whatever comes and will hopefully have the will and energy to do so as we will not have wasted it wondering about if's, but's and maybe's....I say all this to you with the best of intentions, and hope you will be able to relax and not worry about Bentley too much, if he does get sick you will know what to do at that time, but he may never get sick, and you may have years ahead with him so please enjoy them.

My very best wishes to you and for Bentley a long healthy life. Take care xx

Kate H
8th May 2012, 06:21 PM
Pippa said something very important: dogs do not know that they are ill. If something is wrong, they will adjust their capabilities to accommodate it. If they start panting when out for a walk, they don't say to themselves 'Oh that must be my heart murmur getting worse'; they will just walk more slowly and find life easier if owner notices and shortens their walks. Oliver and Aled both have both MVD and SM. When I watch them enjoying themselves running across the fields, getting excited about their supper, enjoying the fuss they get from passers-by whenever we walk along the street, I would no more think of killing them off than I would expect someone to kill me off because I have an incurable genetic mutation affecting the nerves in my feet. Aled, 5 next month, with recently diagnosed SM and a Grade 3 murmur, is on no medication at all. Oliver, 11 next month, is on no medication for his Grade 2 murmur and very straightforward medication for his SM; he gets occasional headaches and is light phobic, but has never had the sort of pain that would cause him to yelp - many Cavaliers with SM don't. Knowledge of SM and treatment for it is growing all the time - that's why Oliver is taking part in the Royal Veterinary College trial, so that he and other Cavaliers can benefit from better treatment. Treatment for MVD has improved enormously in the 20 years since I first had a Cavalier dying of congestive heart failure at 8.5 years.

Yes, it would be nice if Cavaliers didn't have these diseases, and we have a responsibility not to let them get to the stage where their quality of life is really bad, but Cavaliers also have an amazing capacity for enjoying life in spite of it all.

Relax and enjoy Bentley!

Kate, Oliver and Aled

Karlin
8th May 2012, 07:05 PM
Frankly? I think nobody should get a dog if they plan to euthenise at just a diagnosis of an illness.

Just as with people, a diagnosis means little in assessing quality of life. If a dog truly is in unaddressable pain and has a very poor quality of life, then euthenising is one of the kind gifts we can give them at the end.

But I cannot even imagine killing a dog just because it is diagnosed with an illness and has even a short time when it has good quality of life.

Pretty much every single cavalier will get MVD so really there's no point in getting the breed if it was felt a diagnosis means euthenasia.

Most will get SM as well so again, this is not a breed anyone should get if they do not have management of serious medical conditions as a possibility ahead. MRIing a young dog is pretty pointless without medical/research reasons to do so-- SM is a progressive disease and most cases do not appear before age 2.5 -4. And can appear even after a clear scan. Breeders are not advised to breed without a scan at 2.5 as relying on any earlier scan is highly risky.

That said, symptoms of either of these can be minimal and can also be managed in numerous ways, often for years. Many dogs with these conditions actually eventually die of other causes.

But it is a fact that the vast majority of us will lose our cavalier eventually to MVD. By contrast I do not know a single other dog owner of other breeds/mixes who has lost even an elderly dog to MVD. While it is a common diagnosis in older dogs of all types, cavaliers get it years younger than other breeds/mixes and die faster from it, according to research on Rod's Cavalierhealth.org website.

I have three dogs with SM, ranging in age from 6 to 8.5. They all have a very good quality of life, with the worst affected managed now for over 6 years on medications. However not all are that fortunate and we have many here who lost their cavaliers at younger ages when pain became unmanageable.

We all take these risks when opting for this breed -- but we love the breed, one reason we focus so much on supporting research and rescue.

anniemac
8th May 2012, 08:34 PM
I feel the same way about MVD.. just watch him until he is in pain. It is the SM that I wonder about. It looks so so painful even in mild cases, It makes me want to cry to watch. I am pretty sure that if we found out Bentley had severe SM ever, that we would choose to not treat and let him go, just personal since I have watched pets suffer.. and for us it is harder, to see them in pain every day. Not sure if it was mild sm. probably treat and see if treatment worked. But who the heck knows, I obsess over it though all the time. I LOVE cavaliers so much they are the best breed ever, but honestly I think Bentley will be the only one I own, I did not realize how attached and in love I would fall, and how upset I would be at the idea of him ever being sick and in pain and of course no longer having him as my sweet companion. I have been researching dogs that have few health problems lately :( none of them are Cavaliers though.

I have not finished reading responses but I have to stop at this one. The problem is I know cavaliers that have a severe SM diagnosis (long syrinx) that are being managed well some on medication alone others opted for surgery. The flip side is I know cavaliers WITHOUT SM and have CM alone that even though being well managed, were far more symptomatic than some PRIOR to treatment with what one may say on an MRI is "severe SM". Yes SM is painful and CM too if you talk to human patients but I think one has to look at what's going on with their cavalier as far as symptoms go.

I had a cavalier with severe SM. I spent hours analyzing an MRI syrinx width, was it asymmetrical (Karlin correct me but studies show that can be more painful) etc. instead of monitoring her symptoms. She ended up getting really sick with an obstruction and they had to remove part of her intestine and it eventually did play into my decision to euthanize her. I had the internest and neurologist tell me that they could try to remove more but to live with 30% of her intestine on top of dealing with SM was too much. I agreed. I can't really remember specifics but I think to euthanize one before trying to help the cavalier as much as possible just because of a SM diagnosis is unthinkable for me. I know some do eventually have to come to that decision but MANY MANY MANY are being managed on medication.

3kids1cav
9th May 2012, 12:49 AM
I was finally able to watch pedagree exposed in full (I wasn't sure I should with my paranoia but I did) It is awful.. but interesting.. The Breeders make me so angry. I feel fine now though, I know if Bentley does end up with something we will cross that bridge when we come to it.. I think SM seems pretty controlable, with meds which is a positive.

For now I just love my Bentley, he makes me smile and brings me so much joy.

3kids1cav
9th May 2012, 03:20 AM
I have not finished reading responses but I have to stop at this one. The problem is I know cavaliers that have a severe SM diagnosis (long syrinx) that are being managed well some on medication alone others opted for surgery. The flip side is I know cavaliers WITHOUT SM and have CM alone that even though being well managed, were far more symptomatic than some PRIOR to treatment with what one may say on an MRI is "severe SM". Yes SM is painful and CM too if you talk to human patients but I think one has to look at what's going on with their cavalier as far as symptoms go.

I had a cavalier with severe SM. I spent hours analyzing an MRI syrinx width, was it asymmetrical (Karlin correct me but studies show that can be more painful) etc. instead of monitoring her symptoms. She ended up getting really sick with an obstruction and they had to remove part of her intestine and it eventually did play into my decision to euthanize her. I had the internest and neurologist tell me that they could try to remove more but to live with 30% of her intestine on top of dealing with SM was too much. I agreed. I can't really remember specifics but I think to euthanize one before trying to help the cavalier as much as possible just because of a SM diagnosis is unthinkable for me. I know some do eventually have to come to that decision but MANY MANY MANY are being managed on medication.

I really appreciate this response, and having this clarified! I always just assumed that the worse the syrinx the worse and harder to control the symptoms it would be. Thanks! I am learning as I go with Cavs and dogs in general.

anniemac
9th May 2012, 03:39 AM
I really appreciate this response, and having this clarified! I always just assumed that the worse the syrinx the worse and harder to control the symptoms it would be. Thanks! I am learning as I go with Cavs and dogs in general.

I just know I spent a long time hung up on the words severe SM (from MRI).
There are studies with location and size of syrinx that is of value but my point was I spent too much time hung up on that but feel its more important for a pet owner to notice symptoms and help those. Very hard to do when you want to know progression and future but each dog seems so different and reacts different medications differently.

I just want to say enjoy your time. Live for the day.

Hopeful4now
9th May 2012, 09:38 AM
Hi 3kids1cav, I agree w/Karlin here. Forgive me because maybe I misunderstood your post, but how can you say you'd want to give up at the drop of a hat if/when Bentley is diagnosed with something like MVD or SM? Where's the love? If you have a child who is diagnosed with a severe childhood illness, do you opt to just kill him or her before pursuing treatment options? If not, why would you even consider euthanizing a dog after a similar diagnosis?

If the dog can be treated (SM is NOT a death sentence!), why not try? Our dogs would do anything for us so to deprive your dog of medical treatment is kind of like giving up in my mind. My puppy was diagnosed with CM/SM at 4 months (in Feb) via MRI and it was the shock of a lifetime. I now know she can be managed on meds and if we need to cross the surgery bridge in the future, we will when we get to it. But for now, I can't worry. Trust me, I did worry. A lot. And when the diagnosis was confirmed, I thought my life was over. It hit hard. But you have a healthy dog!!! Enjoy him!

I totally get your concerns. The paranoia, the worrying, and like I said, I apologize if I misunderstood your post. But when the going gets tough, why would your first response be to just give up and euthanize? I understand not wanting your dog to suffer, but modern medicine works wonders! I hope your dog stays healthy...

Nalu
9th May 2012, 04:13 PM
I think not being able to communicate with our dogs and not having access to great medical resources compounds our feeling of frustration when we want to prevent suffering.

3kids1cav
9th May 2012, 05:31 PM
Oh please don't misunderstand, I would want to try to treat him, and as long as he was not acting like he was in pain of course we would continue to treat and hope. I just think that if he wasn't responding to any thing we tried and he was in pain. Just that surgery is not really something I think I would consider.. but I have not been there.

Margaret C
9th May 2012, 08:09 PM
It is really hard to see a dog that you love in pain and not know whether you are being unkind and selfish keeping them alive or whether you are in fact dealing with something that will turn out to be treatable enough to give your dog a fair quality of life.
We all hope it will not happen, but sometimes it does, and then you have to make the decision that seems right for you and for your pet.

As dogs have a shorter life span than people most of us are going to have to say goodbye to a dog that we love at some time.
I know it is hard to put these worries completely out of your mind but try to relax and enjoy what you have now, time goes fast enough as it is.

daffymum
11th May 2012, 11:59 PM
I just read your post , you said Bentley is healthy, for now, his heart is clear, aside from a scratch here and there on the ears and a good doggie shake once in a while he seems to be sm free, for now, this is very good, and why the worry. All dogs scratch occasionally and give a doggie body shake now and then, my non sm dog does this often, I think you should put the thought of severe sm and euthanization completely out of your mind , cherish your cavalier and the joy he brings to you.

Lani
12th May 2012, 12:42 AM
All dogs scratch occasionally and give a doggie body shake now and then, my non sm dog does this often, I think you should put the thought of severe sm and euthanization completely out of your mind , cherish your cavalier and the joy he brings to you.

Ditto! This is what I was wanting to say but couldn't put into words. I used to worry a lot about these things too, but I find loving a healthy Cavalier so much more enjoyable when I don't worry on what "could" happen.

My boss gave me a few little quotes on worry ... maybe they'll help you keep perspective:

"Worry is the tax you pay on problems that haven't happened yet"

and

"Worry is using your imagination to invent things you don't want"

Or something like that! When I start to stress, I try to remember those little sayings. ;-)

If something happens to your Cavalier's health, then of course you can deal with it then. You'll enjoy your dog much more now if you try to put those thoughts out of your mind. You're an informed dog owner now, so if the symptoms present themselves, you'll be able to see them. Karlin has some excellent videos posting of what moderate and Severe SM scratching episodes look like. Until you see something that looks beyond normal dog scratching, and you've exhausted all the other non-SM causes (like ear infections, bug bites, etc.), I hope you can find away to not worry so much.