Kind of scarey
I am new to this forum and have my first Cavalier.
What I am noticing and most often repeated here are all the posts on dogs who are sick. That is really depressing and worrisome to consider. i had the Vet check Bentleys heart and she said it is good. He is also on Heartworm meds. Is there anything else to be done to avoid these Cavalier issues other than exercise and a good quality diet? I understand they are suseptible to heart issues as a breed.
Although I do have one cavalier with SM, all my cavaliers are free of MVD although one does have a congenital murmur (grade 1) that has not changed since it was diagnosed when he was 4 months old and his cardiologist says he's at no more risk of MVD than any other cavalier. He's now 6 years old. All of my dogs except Riley (with SM) are healthy. And Riley is 11 years old already and living a good life with SM. Madison is deaf, but that's ok. She sticks really close to Riley. Other than that, no health problems now. So, it is possible - and Oliver is 12 and 1/2! I keep them on the thin side, which I think helps. I give them salmon oil, CoQ10, and a probiotic every day. They love their walks and we have a fenced in acre + for them to run around in chasing squirrels and chipmunks. And lots and lots of cuddles. Luckily, my breeder really checked for MVD when breeding and checked back for generations. She didn't check for SM, and Riley is paying the price now. Not many breeders did check 11 years ago though. So, just love Bentley. If SM or MVD is in his future there's not much you can do about it now. If it happens, there's a wealth of info on here and people to help you through it. But maybe you'll be one of the lucky ones!!!
A good reply from Bev. :) We all have had different experiences but many of us have at least one dog with SM and most of us eventually have them with MVD.
The single best thing you can do is only ever get a puppy from a breeder who has properly cardiologist tested her breeding dogs and follows the MVD breeding protocol, who MRI screens and follows the SM protocol; and does other needed tests (eg s/he should have done DNA tests to know if there is EFS in her dogs; also eyes should have been checked, ideally, hips and knees checked too). No cavalier should ever be bred before 2.5 as the most serious conditions, MVD and SM are hereditary and progressive.
Unfortunately both these conditions are considered endemic -- eg very widespread. Close to 100% will eventually have MVD by age 10, half have it by age 5 or 6. A sample of over 500 cavaliers indicated about half will have SM by age 5; and about 70% by age 6-7. There's very good evidence that following the protocols and properly testing greatly reduces incidence :) and increases the age of onset, when a dog does get either disease. That said many with SM and MVD can simply live with the conditions in a mild form and may not need meds. Each dog is different.
As MVD is progressive, almost all cavaliers will be heart clear for the first year or two of life, which won't tell much about the dog's future. Incidence in parents, grandparents and siblings is a better indicator, and whether the breeder followed health protocols and tested properly. :thmbsup:
Sadly this is an illness prone breed. There's a high rate of many problems, including hip dysplasia (according to statistics cavaliers have a higher rate than several giant breed dogs...) and knee problems are more common generally in all small breeds. Dogs with genetically altered noses (to be shorter) and enlarged eyes are more prone to both respiratory and eye problems, so these are structural issues in the breed because of the way cavaliers look (other breeds & mixes with similar alterations also can have these issues). There are some cavalier-only problems like Episodic Falling (EFS) and Curly Coat/Dry Eye, but there's now a DNA test for both together :), that all breeders should be using.
The breed also has a high propensity to the dog equivalent of glue ear (PSOM). This shows up frequently when dogs are MRId for SM. It can sometimes cause similar symptoms, sometimes none. It likely often causes some degree of deafness -- one reason why this breed has a very high rate of deafness, but there's also congenital deafness as a separate issue.
It's a lot of things for one small, lovely breed, and that's why raising awareness about, and funds for, breed health, and also giving people resources on how to choose a breeder, has long been a focus of the board.
I've had five cavaliers. Of those, three have CM/SM, three MVD (onset by around age 7), four have PSOM, and all five are deaf to some degree (two were/are almost stone deaf). All were losing hearing by about age 7, which doesn't inhibit them but does make for more careful management. The SM dogs are managed on meds. Fortunately they have not been severely symptomatic, but one is one a high level of painkillers at age 10. I lost one cavalier to MVD -- truly the worst condition I have had to manage. :(
Hi Bentley's mum
Yes, we do talk a lot about our dogs' ills, but that's because this is such a good place to share support, experience and help. But behind our posts, for most of us, is a happy normal life with our Cavaliers. My two both have CM/SM and heart murmurs that are not causing any problems, but we enjoy holidays camping in a tent near the sea, walks in the country, staying with friends, doing competition obedience, and generally enjoying life. Yes, they are on a lot of medication and I keep a sharp eye on them, but generally they live happy and normal lives. Oliver was diagnosed with SM at the age of 6 and is still enjoying life at 12. Perhaps we should try and celebrate our dogs a bit more on this forum!
Kate, Oliver and Aled
Yes, good to also read the many (the majority of!) threads on the board about day to day life with cavaliers, many of which are doing agility and other activities, nosework, long hikes, family activities, etc. :)
Hello There......When Leo was a pup I worried too. You read so many bad things....He's 7 now and MVD free, I had him MRI'd at 2 1/2 yrs and he was SM clear....I know it could change in a heart beat but.....having him has been a blast, we holiday every year and enjoy him every day. I know its hard but try not to spend all your time worrying what "Might happen"......The last 7 years have flown past and Im glad I haven't spent that time worrying and not enjoying him.........If it happens be educated and well informed but don't let it ruin your enjoyment of a fantastic little dog.......Mel x
That's what I've decided to do with MY Bentley--just enjoy him while he's healthy. I worried a lot when he was younger, especially about SM, but he seems to be quite healthy. He did have knee surgery when he had just turned one year. It was successful and he doesn't s have problems with the other knee. We love him so much. I remember being paranoid about my human kids (a long time ago) because I had 2 cousins with Muscular Dystrophy. As it has turned out, no one else in the family and extended family has Muscular Dystrophy. Such needless worry.
I think every well informed cavalier owner has to balance enjoy and worry. My Fletcher was a puppy rescue and I have pretty much NO medical history about his parents, even so I weighted the risks and became his Mommy anyway. I have a good insurance plan and really really educated myself about the most common cavalier health issues even found vet specialist in my area for "just in case I need them".
Carpi diem (seize the day) I try to remember each healthy day is numbered (well that can be true for all of us) I try very hard to live that way with Fletcher. I don't let him miss out on the good things in live, like sleeping on my legs, walking. playing or cuddling, he's really has a pampered life just as he should.
What lovely positive replies!! As a dog with newly diagnosed MVD, it is really heartening to here such positivity!! Thank you.