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Thread: Is ignorance on cavalier diseases a bad thing?

  1. #1
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    Default Is ignorance on cavalier diseases a bad thing?

    Ok, I have been a member of this wonderful forum for only a few months now, but I feel I have to get something off my chest if you will permit me.

    I say what I am about to say without any attack on any direct member of the forum ( either directly or indirectly ).

    Ok..I have only ever owned one other Cavalier before Tess which was Tania. Now I was young at that time and it's fair to say that my parents cared for her and raised her. Throughout Tanias' entire life, there was never a mention ( either by vets or books ) of CM,MVD or SM. Tania died of natural causes at a very good age, and without any drugs apart from boosters etc.

    I know these diseases are terrible for both dog and owner, and I am in no way making that point any less poignant, but for the average CKCS owner, who has bought from a reputable breeder, should we worry about these diseases until symptoms appear?....kind of like " If it's not broke don't fix it ".

    If a car is prone to rust, people will stay clear of that car due to it's reputation...can the same be said for CKCS soon?..Is the problem so bad that no-one will buy the breed due to it's likelyhood of these diseases?. I seen a thread on here that says it is more than likey that your dog will have one or more of these diseases ( over 70% I think it was ).

    Educating people on these diseases is great, and I have actively supported research into treatment and prevention, but it appears to me that the average person buying a Cavalier, will not get a scan done...will not check the health of both parents simply due to ignorance. How can you check for something if you don't know what it is?

    I bought Tess without a scan...does that make me a bad dog owner?

    Having spoken at some length to Tania (on the forum) and a few others, the emphasis seems to be on education, prevention and cure which is absolutely wonderful...but do you think it's solely down to the breeders to check for diseases and, more importantly, TELLING the prospective buyer that these checks have been carried out.

    I intend to be a good "parent" to Tess, and treat any ailments that come about as and when they happen..Am I going to keep a cupboard full of preventative medicine just in case she develops this; or develops that...no I am not.

    I just want to enjoy Tess every day that she has.

    Do I want to be educated about Cavalier diseases? YES..Most definately..and this forum provides an excellent resource..but if I were a Cavalier owner who didn't want to be educated..would that make me a bad Cavalier owner?


    Thanks for reading this.

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    I think you make a good point. Education is extremely important - I wish I knew about the risks before getting a Cavalier. And no, I didn't know I was supposed to ask the breeder about scans or SM, CM or MVD before joining this forum.

    Now I worry that every little thing Lady does is a sign of SM and that I should have gone to a more experienced breeder. But I don't regret Lady, I love her to pieces. And she is perfectly happy and healthy. Joining this forum has been a great thing because without coming here I don't think I would have applied for pet insurance. But I have to say sometimes I get paranoid reading posts on this forum and feel like an irresponsible dog owner.

    That being said, that's my own reaction and interpretation of reading those posts. It's no one's fault.
    Matilda
    Mummy to Lady (Blenheim Cavalier) and Lola (Silver Tabby British Shorthair)

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    Quote Originally Posted by robbieswan View Post
    Ok, I have been a member of this wonderful forum for only a few months now, but I feel I have to get something off my chest if you will permit me.

    I say what I am about to say without any attack on any direct member of the forum ( either directly or indirectly ).

    Ok..I have only ever owned one other Cavalier before Tess which was Tania. Now I was young at that time and it's fair to say that my parents cared for her and raised her. Throughout Tanias' entire life, there was never a mention ( either by vets or books ) of CM,MVD or SM. Tania died of natural causes at a very good age, and without any drugs apart from boosters etc.
    I certainly understand how hard it is for someone who had a long lived healthy cavalier in the past to understand why the cavalier is now being regarded as one of the most health beleaguered toy dogs.

    How it happened is described in the blog on my puppy website...... http://cavalierpuppy.co.uk/blog/

    For decades the Cavalier was regarded as a healthy little dog, although there was in fact a big problem with heart disease which also went unacknowledged and hidden.

    Those that had a cavalier that was lucky with the genes it inherited from its parents, and there were many, would have had the same experience as you.

    There will be some cavaliers now that are as lucky, but with two serious inherited problems, not that many cavaliers will escape both.

    Quote Originally Posted by robbieswan View Post
    I know these diseases are terrible for both dog and owner, and I am in no way making that point any less poignant, but for the average CKCS owner, who has bought from a reputable breeder, should we worry about these diseases until symptoms appear?....kind of like " If it's not broke don't fix it ".
    I was a medical social worker, trained to support people not make them feel bad, and I know that constant mention of these conditions do make pet owners paranoid.
    I am also a cavalier health campaigner and I will be quite honest, the dogs cannot speak for themselves and say they are hurting, so as far as I am concerned better an anxious owner than a dog that is living a life of unrelieved pain.

    If you bought from a reputable owner then you have a better chance of having a healthy dog, but the amount of breeders that are properly following both MVD and SM guidelines, which is how I would define reputable, are very small.

    Nobody wants owners to be over concerned but on the other hand , how would you know to worry about symptoms until they became extreme if you had not read about it here?
    The PDE film alerted many cavalier owners to the fact that the quirky things their dogs were doing were symptoms of pain.


    Quote Originally Posted by robbieswan View Post
    If a car is prone to rust, people will stay clear of that car due to it's reputation...can the same be said for CKCS soon?..Is the problem so bad that no-one will buy the breed due to it's likelyhood of these diseases?. I seen a thread on here that says it is more than likey that your dog will have one or more of these diseases ( over 70% I think it was ).

    A recent study did show that 70% of 6 year old dogs, who according to their owners have no symptoms had SM when they were scanned under a breeders scheme.

    Car owners have the right to know about the brand they are buying, dog owners who face an emotional as well as a financial cost surely have a right to know the truth about what they may be taking on.

    If people stay clear of the cavalier because of a reputation of ill health, then that will drive away puppy farmers and those that breed only for profit.


    Quote Originally Posted by robbieswan View Post
    Educating people on these diseases is great, and I have actively supported research into treatment and prevention, but it appears to me that the average person buying a Cavalier, will not get a scan done...will not check the health of both parents simply due to ignorance. How can you check for something if you don't know what it is?
    That is why we continue to repeat ourselves on forums like this, so that new members and those visiting and reading for the first time will see these facts.
    That is why I wrote my website www.cavalierpuppy.co.uk and Tania started www.cavaliermatters.org

    Quote Originally Posted by robbieswan View Post
    I bought Tess without a scan...does that make me a bad dog owner?
    No, but I would wonder about her breeder. Was she also ignorant of the health problems or just not willing to do the health tests?.


    Quote Originally Posted by robbieswan View Post
    Having spoken at some length to Tania (on the forum) and a few others, the emphasis seems to be on education, prevention and cure which is absolutely wonderful...but do you think it's solely down to the breeders to check for diseases and, more importantly, TELLING the prospective buyer that these checks have been carried out.
    The breeder is the one responsible for each little puppy life. The breed clubs and the Kennel club should make more detailed information available, which is gradually happening. The buyer should also take some responsibility, as many would do more checking in the 'Which Report' for their vacuum cleaner than they would for their dog.

    Quote Originally Posted by robbieswan View Post
    Do I want to be educated about Cavalier diseases? YES..Most definately..and this forum provides an excellent resource..but if I were a Cavalier owner who didn't want to be educated..would that make me a bad Cavalier owner?
    It may make your cavalier a very unlucky dog.
    Last edited by Margaret C; 25th June 2011 at 02:32 PM.
    Margaret C

    Cavaliers......Faith, The Ginger Tank and Woody.
    Japanese Chins.... Dandy, Benny, Bridgette and Hana.
    Remembered with love......... Tommy Tuppence and Fonzi

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    Ignorance may be bliss for the owner but sadly, not for the dog!
    I used to know a person a long time ago who had a cavalier.
    It had been his partner's dog and he came with the baggage when his partner left her violent ex.
    However he often wondered if the dog had been beaten too, as the dog had some behavioural issues.
    It used to have screaming fits,scratch madly and throw itself to the ground and then get up and walk off as if nothing had happened.
    He declared it to be "absolutely bonkers"..
    and sadly I have no idea what became of the dog.
    I think an owner taking on any dog(not just a cavalier) has a responsibility and a duty to choose a pet who can be an integral part of family life and have a reasonable expectation of not running up massive veterinary bills.
    It's good to be aware too of the more mundane day to day problems that can crop up,from ear and eye problems to anal gland trouble and weight gain.
    Awareness is a wonderful thing.
    A smart man is one who learns from his own mistakes...A wise man learns from others!!



    Sins

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    You mentioned this Cavalier was when you were a kid? Given the years that have passed from my understanding these conditions are becoming worse with time. For example I know someone has said that there may have once been lines of Cavaliers that were free of SM but over time these lines have been mixed with carriers so that now no "line" of Cavaliers is safe from SM.

    While I agree the general public SHOULD educate themselves about a breed BEFORE purchasing it that is often NOT the case. It is the breeder who is choosing to breed the dog & bring puppies into the world. It is the breeders responsibility to make sure they are healthy. I know many breeders don't MRI screen there dogs. I believe they SHOULD but I understand in the USA it is not always easy. As a pet owner I had to drive about 5 hours to get to the nearest neurologist. I then paid about $5,000 for 2 dogs to have an MRI. I am by no means saying its okay breeders don't scan but I see why most don't. (I still personally would never buy another Cavalier unless the parents were MRI clear.) I don't think there is ANY excuse for a breeder to NOT test the heart, hips & eyes. It is just such a routine test for most dog breeds. I believe any breeder who lacks these testing should be totally avoided.

    One other thing... This question is for everyone.... How MANY breeders did you interview before you settled on your very 1st Cavalier? Usually the answer I see is ONE or maybe TWO.

    Now I have spent a good portion of a decade working right next to puppy "breeders". Some months I can be working beside up to 20 different "breeders". Some are small breeders, some are large breeders, some are flat out puppy mills. Some breed for "show" while others just breed. These are not necessarily cavalier breeders but breeders in general of all different kinds of dogs.

    The most common scenario I see is :
    Person wants a specific puppy (lets just say a Cavalier)..... they find a "breeder" & go look at the puppies. Awww the puppies are SO cute! The breeder is SO nice! The breeder seems to care about the puppies SO much. The breeder talks about the puppies like they are family. They even act sad at the thought of selling the puppy. The buyer decides on a puppy. Then they question WHY on earth so many people are talking bad about Cavalier health.

    Now here is what I REALLY see going on:
    Person comes to the breeder wanting a puppy. This dog breeder is EXTREMELY Friendly (I think of some dog breeders like car sales men). They want to make a WONDERFUL impression because they want you to buy THERE puppy. This breeder will tell you EVERY wonderful thing they can think of. You will always see the puppies & parents in perfect condtioin. Groomed & bathed. (who wants to buy a dirty puppy?) Now the really crafty breeders might inform you of the not so great issues. Like maybe heart issues, cavaliers being prone to over eating, puppy potty training, etc. They may even use words like "I have never had an issue in my cavaliers" "Or my cavaliers do not have a history of any illnesses". This little sales technique is very powerful in retail. When you seem to show true concern for your buyer & your puppies. Now this is great if the breeder REALLY is concerned or has the paper work to back it up but usually they don't. This buyer takes this cute little puppy home and talks wonderful of there breeder. Then 2-4 years later this cute little puppy develops a heart murmur or SM. Buyer lets the breeder know. Breeder tells you they are so sorry to hear this but that they have never had any other dog come down with that condition. Breeder somehow forgets to mention to future puppy buyers they know they are producing Cavaliers with this condition. Repeat cycle....

    I am not trying to offend anyone! I know there are some wonderful breeders out there. Not all breeders are this way and I'm sure some are truly shocked to hear a puppy they produced has something like SM or MVD. I have just heard this story more often then I like. I definitely don't want to offend anyone who has been in this situation and bought a puppy like this... I was one of those people! I even KNEW better! You think a decade of seeing this happen in the puppy world I would be smart enough to find a good breeder I have contacted all breeders involved in my Cavaliers pedigree within the USA... every single one gave me the same song.. " I'm sorry I have never had SM or MVD in my lines"... But guess what.. they don't health test. Every one blamed it on the person I got them from. She may not have been a great person but I know she didn't give them SM or MVD.

    Sorry for the long rant... Just been one of those weeks dealing with puppy shows
    Last edited by Reptigirl; 25th June 2011 at 04:42 PM.

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    Ignorance is never bliss.
    J. and pups, Gem, Monty, Harley and Sapphire

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    Especially for the dogs that may end up in pain and treated incorrectly for months or years.

    When I was running Irish Cavalier Rescue, I always briefed prospective owners on MVD, SM, and other health issues to watch for, and steered them to helpful online information. I never had anyone decide to not get a cavalier -- and critically, to back away from a rescue, which would be a dog with no known health background most of the time -- because of these conditions. Being informed helps owners to know how to watch for signs that a dog needs care, and I think gives confidence. If it puts people off buying/adopting, then that probably is the wrong home/wrong breed anyway.

    A buyer who didn't know about checking for health tests etc certainly is not a bad owner. A buyer who knows about these things and decides to ignore how important these things now are for both the individual dog and the breed as a whole, is refusing to take an ethical and moral approach to buying a dog. That is selfish and deliberately cruel for the puppy they buy, which may suffer, and for the breed, which by any measure is under severe health pressure now and needs buyers to be its most stalwart supporters and friends.

    Not caring/willfully deciding to opt for the fast purchase/cheap purchase from a non testing breeder is no different than buying blood diamonds, or goods from industries that use child labour, or supporting apartheid regimes. It saddens me that people will opt to buy free range eggs for ethical reasons, yet not support good breeders who health test to try and save this wonderful breed.

    There are some really great breeders out there who need buyer support to be able to breed to help this breed, and need to know people actually CARE about this issue and will put their heart and money behind good breeding and good health -- that we care more about cavaliers than selfish satisfaction, than saving $200 or getting that ruby you want this week rather than early next year.

    Either people care, or they don't. That goes for breeders and for puppy buyers.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Leo Lily Tansy Libby Mindy
    In memory: Lucy
    Cavalier SM Infosite:www.smcavaliers.com

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    Sometimes I think it would be lovely not to know about these diseases - go back to the old days where we didn't have to live in fear of something happening...sadly we have been through too much, have seen so much suffering, and suffered ourselves, emotionally and also financially.

    We have had to research these conditions, to educate ourselves, and to help our vets to learn more about how to manage and treat these conditions. When Rupert first showed symptoms, our vet had a 1" clip of a condition called Squeakers and Squealers affecting Cavaliers - it was believed they were anticipating pain, rather like we do with a stiff neck. Cavaliers were considered "drama queens" and wimps for crying when they were handled and during vaccinations - those poor dogs must have been really suffering and no-one knew any better

    We are so lucky these days to have the Internet, to have access to so much information - it is our duty as responsible guardians to educate ourselves and those around us, so we recognise symptoms if/when they appear. Our dogs can't ring the vets and say they have a severe headache, that it hurts so much when they pull on a collar, that grooming is agony etc - it is our responsibility to help them.

    When we take one of the very special dogs in to our lives, we take on all aspects of their lives, not just the enjoyable ones...



    As Karlin so rightly says: A buyer who knows about these things and decides to ignore how important these things now are for both the individual dog and the breed as a whole, is refusing to take an ethical and moral approach to buying a dog.


    There are some excellent replies on this thread and I hope many people will read it and take it on board.
    Nicki and the Cavalier Clan Our photos www.scotlandimagery.com
    Supporting www.rupertsfund.com and www.cavaliermatters.org

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reptigirl View Post
    Now I have spent a good portion of a decade working right next to puppy "breeders". Some months I can be working beside up to 20 different "breeders". Some are small breeders, some are large breeders, some are flat out puppy mills. Some breed for "show" while others just breed. These are not necessarily cavalier breeders but breeders in general of all different kinds of dogs.

    You may have told us in the past but in what way do you work beside breeders?


    Quote Originally Posted by Reptigirl View Post
    The most common scenario I see is :
    Person wants a specific puppy (lets just say a Cavalier)..... they find a "breeder" & go look at the puppies. Awww the puppies are SO cute! The breeder is SO nice! The breeder seems to care about the puppies SO much. The breeder talks about the puppies like they are family. They even act sad at the thought of selling the puppy. The buyer decides on a puppy. Then they question WHY on earth so many people are talking bad about Cavalier health.

    Now here is what I REALLY see going on:
    Person comes to the breeder wanting a puppy. This dog breeder is EXTREMELY Friendly (I think of some dog breeders like car sales men). They want to make a WONDERFUL impression because they want you to buy THERE puppy. This breeder will tell you EVERY wonderful thing they can think of. You will always see the puppies & parents in perfect condtioin. Groomed & bathed. (who wants to buy a dirty puppy?) Now the really crafty breeders might inform you of the not so great issues. Like maybe heart issues, cavaliers being prone to over eating, puppy potty training, etc. They may even use words like "I have never had an issue in my cavaliers" "Or my cavaliers do not have a history of any illnesses". This little sales technique is very powerful in retail. When you seem to show true concern for your buyer & your puppies. Now this is great if the breeder REALLY is concerned or has the paper work to back it up but usually they don't. This buyer takes this cute little puppy home and talks wonderful of there breeder. Then 2-4 years later this cute little puppy develops a heart murmur or SM. Buyer lets the breeder know. Breeder tells you they are so sorry to hear this but that they have never had any other dog come down with that condition. Breeder somehow forgets to mention to future puppy buyers they know they are producing Cavaliers with this condition. Repeat cycle....
    This deserves a wider audience, the very same thing happens in the UK. Sometimes the puppies are even sold with very impressive contracts, which basically attempt to fool the buyer that they have no come-back when things go wrong.

    We are now getting to the time when non-scanning club members will not be able to counter any legal claim if taken to court by the owner of a young SM affected dog.
    They all had a copy of the breeding guidelines in 2007. They knew what they should be doing to minimise the risk to the puppies they bred.

    Reptigirl, You have described the situation so well that I would love permission to add this bit of your post to the blog on my cavalier puppy buying advice website. Would that be okay with you?
    Margaret C

    Cavaliers......Faith, The Ginger Tank and Woody.
    Japanese Chins.... Dandy, Benny, Bridgette and Hana.
    Remembered with love......... Tommy Tuppence and Fonzi

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    Quote Originally Posted by Margaret C View Post
    You may have told us in the past but in what way do you work beside breeders?

    I sell dog supplies at different pet expos, dog expos, dog shows, adoption events, etc . Collars, leashes, training books, belly bands, beds...etc. I see so many people who spend a LOT of money on a puppy and then "don't have the money to buy the supplies". I try to carry supplies at discounted prices in hopes more dogs/puppies will go home with things they need! I even offer free print outs of basic puppy care, house training, etc. I don't supported most of the breeders but I do my best to be friends with them. My biggest thing is making sure the new puppy buyer will go home with knowledge that the breeder failed to provide. Being around before & after hours when the public is not you see the breeders for how they really are.

    Over the years I have made friends with many breeders. I have helped bath, groom, walk, & socialize there pups. Have you ever noticed most home breeders require appointment only to view the pups? I have seen good & bad breeders use this "appointment only" line so they have time to bath & groom the dogs. They also work to make there house & yard look extra nice. They pull out all the best dog toys...etc. A large part of that is presentation to help sell the pups!

    I have never been close to any Cavalier breeders specifically but lots of other breeders. (Poodles, Shih Tzu, Min Pins, Brussels Griffon, Papillon, Yorkies, Maltese, Chihuahuas, Cockers, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Margaret C View Post
    This deserves a wider audience, the very same thing happens in the UK. Sometimes the puppies are even sold with very impressive contracts, which basically attempt to fool the buyer that they have no come-back when things go wrong.

    We are now getting to the time when non-scanning club members will not be able to counter any legal claim if taken to court by the owner of a young SM affected dog.
    They all had a copy of the breeding guidelines in 2007. They knew what they should be doing to minimise the risk to the puppies they bred.

    Reptigirl, You have described the situation so well that I would love permission to add this bit of your post to the blog on my cavalier puppy buying advice website. Would that be okay with you?
    I even PURCHASED a 3rd party guarantee/warranty contract for Flash. It was supposed to cover him for congenital / hereditary defects for 1 year . I sure wasted my money. They ended up being a scam IMO. 8 months after filling my claim they still have not refunded our money. They told me my claim qualified but then never sent a check & I can't get anyone to call me back.

    Yes, Margaret you may use that in your blog.

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