choking on food and MVD
Hi, I am new here. I have two cavaliers of advanced years (almost 11 and 13+). The younger, Patches, was diagnosed with a heart murmur aged 6 and his is worse than his elder sister's. Have just recently had him Xrayed due to a 'phlegmy' cough and of course, he has the enlarged heart of MVD. We've started on meds. What my vet doesn't seem to be able to explain is the choking during eating phenomena. My cavs have both been on the same kibble type stuff for years with no problems. Recently, first Patches, then Lainey (who has earlier signs of MVD) started choking on their meals. I'm not talking the cavalier soft palette snort. I'm talking food stuck in the throat, stick finger down to clear it type choking. My first step was separating them to try to prevent them inhaling their food. Second step was getting bigger biscuits to promote more chewing and less swallowing. That seemed to work well for a bit. Wondering if I should moisten their food to make it mushy? (They are getting kangaroo meat as well, but soggy carrots in gravy could add nutrients and soften the biscuits/rice).
1) Has anyone experienced this choking with cavs with MVD?
2) Any solutions you can suggest?
Laura, welcome to our group. My family has had several cavaliers with advanced mitral valve disease, but I cannot recall any with swallowing or choking problems when eating. We don't feed our dogs any kibble or dry food; we put together our own recipe -- holistic vet approved -- of raw meat and vegetables.
Do you crate your dogs at mealtime? We've found that crating reduces the competion to rush through the meal to prevent the other dogs from getting any of it, and/or so that they might be able to finish quickly and then get some of the other dogs' meals. Rushing eating could cause choking.
In general, difficulty swallowing is a medical disorder -- called dysphagia -- which is not particularly breed-related (except for golden retrievers and a couple other breeds) but can arise in older dogs. If choking on food is the only symptom, then it likely is not due to a couple of cavalier-related genetic disorders -- eosinophilic stomatitis and brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome.
Thanks Rod - good to hear that it's specifically MVD related. I've tried BARF but with the proliferation of packaged foods, it's getting difficult to find raw pet meat around where I live so higher quality biscuits are essential. Adding some stock and vegies to water it down a bit - they seem better with wetter food. Wondering if it's the coughing reflex while eating that is causing it. Wetter food seems to be working. :)