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Thread: Recent MVD diagnosis

  1. #1
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    Default Recent MVD diagnosis

    Hello everyone, I'm a newbie here.

    I'm a proud sister to three Cavaliers: Parker (6) and Georgie (5) who are Blenheim and Rupert (4) a Ruby.

    Parker went to the vet for an ear infection on Tuesday and the vet is 90% sure that Parker has MVD but needs to do blood work to confirm. My parents are trying to accumulate the money for that but want to move forward with healthy choices for all three of the boys, but Parker in particular.

    I've done some research, but some of it is kind of conflicting so I would appreciate some helpful information to pass along to my parents.

    We're most confused about food. The vet recommends Hills H/D which is SUPER expensive and my mom would like to just make food for Parker and his brothers. Does anyone have suggestions on foods/recipes for food?

    Also, I'd kind of like to hear from some of you have have a Cavalier with a diagnosis that have gone several years with little to no progression, is there anything you've done that we should be doing? Supplements? Increase/decrease activity levels?

    And are there any sources we should be looking at in particular? I printed up over 100 pages of stuff I found online but I'm not sure if any of it was anything special.

    My parents use a vet who I have doubts about. He's a nice man, but when my mother asked him about SM in Cavaliers a few years back he didn't know what she was talking about... the parents love him though and keep going to him.... we're kind of being led by the blind here.

    A final note for your consideration when drafting replies: My parents are not in very good shape financially... dad was injured at work last year and he's getting disability which is not nearly enough for them to live off of particularly when unforeseen expenses come up. I live nearby with my boyfriend but I'm currently between jobs so I'm not able to help either... so all of this has to be done in a budget friendly fashion.

    We're also located in Southern California if that helps with talking about brands of dog food.

    Thanks everyone!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarah Quest View Post
    ... Parker went to the vet for an ear infection on Tuesday and the vet is 90% sure that Parker has MVD but needs to do blood work to confirm.
    Sarah, I don't think any blood work is necessary to determine if a cavalier has MVD. All it takes is a well-educated vet with a stethoscope and a good ear.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarah Quest View Post
    ... We're most confused about food. The vet recommends Hills H/D which is SUPER expensive and my mom would like to just make food for Parker and his brothers. Does anyone have suggestions on foods/recipes for food?
    Hills h/d is junk food. Vets make a profit on it for recommending it and selling it. A good quality canned food, with a good cardiac supplement and a few other supplements and vitamins are a good course of action. An example of a good quality canned food would be Merrick Thanksgiving Day Dinner or Merrick Cowboy Cookout. A good cardiac supplement is Bio-Cardio, a Thorne Veterinary Products multi-vitamin, mineral, and herbal extract supplement, or Canine Cardiac Support, by Standard Process. Other supplements for cavaliers with MVD are listed here: http://cavalierhealth.org/diets.htm#Cardiac_Supplements

    We make our cavaliers' food, but home-prepared recipes can be risky if not well-balanced with supplements, an important one being a calcium source to balance phosphorus in the meat. We feed raw meats and vegetables. There is a Yahoo email list called K9Kitchen -- http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/K9Kitchen/ -- which may offer some good recipes. The owner of that list, Monica Segal, has owned several cavaliers and, I think, has a couple of them right now.
    Last edited by RodRussell; 30th March 2013 at 04:12 AM.
    Rod Russell

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    I thought something was up with the blood work... sounds like the vet may be trying to make some more money. He listened to Parker's heart and then had my mother listen and both of them distinctly heard it... I wasn't there (parents took the Blenheims since Georgie needed shots while I kept the Ruby company at home) so I will see if I can get more details on what this blood work is that he wants to run.

    Thanks for the food suggestions, I'm definitely going to check those out.

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    Hi and welcome.

    I'd wonder whether he actually said bloodwork or actually meant some other tests to gauge the blood flow through the heart -- which would be the kind of thing you might do for MVD. I am afraid to really accurately assess the condition of a dog and make the best treatment decisions it does begin to involve tests which ARE costly -- and actually are best done by a board certified cardiologist. Medications also do begin to become expensive for this condition (easily can reach $50-100 monthly as the condition progresses).

    Unfortunately almost every cavalier gets MVD as it ages and a good number of those will need special medical care -- eg medications and tests --because of it. tHis s one reason why many of us strongly recommend insuring this breed from the start so these expenses will at least be part covered.

    Once financial conditions are better perhaps your parents may wish to try to insure the other two if they are not yet showing signs of MVD.

    That said: if the vet is not sure he has MVD -- and statistically, vets are not great at hearing early murmurs, which is why it is a good idea to work with a cardiologist once MVD is there -- then almost certainly the murmur is low grade at this point and not requiring medications. sO you probably really only want to get a basic grade.

    A vet should not need to do further costly tests to verify this -- I'd just find a good cardiologist (Rod's www.cavalierhealth.org website has a list) and see a cardio for an auscultation ONLY just to see if there is a murmur and grade it. Or, check Rod's site for lists of upcoming dog show events where you can get this done at very low cost (like $30-50). Parker may never need medications -- it is impossible to tell how the condition will progress (though if the health background of parents is known, it helps greatly. Good breeders should be doing proper testing and following a breeding protocol for hearts but sadly the majority do not. Breed club breeders are definitely better than the general person breeding (exploiting ) this breed but even then many do not follow these basic long-standing protocols and hence generation after generation of cavaliers suffers an early onset of this old-dog disease.

    Diet is really important as is keeping cavaliers fit and lean and never ever overweight, which will put extra strain on the heart. You definitely can do homecooked or raw meals for the dogs (there are commercial, frozen raw diets that can be bought as well, but some have had problems with nurtitional balance) but should not just randomly make them from whatever is around, or from just some meat-- nutritional balance is extremely important and thus a good diet needs research.

    I don't care for Hills either -- and generally don't feed much dry kibble anyway.

    It wouldn't be too surprising that a vet would not be very familiar with SM or even to have heard of it at all in cavaliers. The breed is not all that common in the US, and the condition would have been quite rare until it was discovered that it has a very high incidence in cavaliers and that it seems to affect all toy breeds to different extents . Like MVD it is one best managed by a specialist (in the same way that a GP would not manage serious heart disease in a human).
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Leo Lily Tansy Libby (foster) Mindy (foster)
    In memory: Lucy
    Cavalier SM Infosite:www.smcavaliers.com

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    Karlin mentioned finding a cardiologist to confirm the MVD. As she noted, the least expensive way is to take the dog to a health clinic. At most health clinics offering heart checks, the vet is a cardiologist. There is a list of them here: http://cavalierhealth.org/health_clinics.htm

    There are several upcoming ones in California, but you will find that most of those California heart clinics on the list right now will not have a cardiologist doing the exams. Even if you cannot find a nearby one with a cardiologist, you might consider having him checked at one of the clinics that does not have a cardiologist, just to get a second opinion from an experienced vet.

    My family has had cavaliers for over 40 years, and we've never found having and caring for one to be inexpensive. Whether you get your cavalier from rescue or the pound or a breeder gives you an older, retired breeding bitch for free, that usually is just the beginning of spending a lot of money if you want to keep your dog healthy and long-lived.
    Rod Russell

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    I hear you on the fact that they can be expensive! Georgie injured his eye and had to have surgery on it to the tune of $2,000 a few years ago. Rupert injured his leg when he was just under a year old and the break was so bad it wouldn't heal-- the surgeon had to do four separate surgeries just to set it... plus all the follow up medications and visits... I think that was about $8,000 total... Parker has always been the healthiest of the bunch until now...

    You know that expression, "When it rains it pours"? Well that's the case right now. I could ramble forever about the drama that my parents' have been going through since my dad was injured at work... then my financial woes.... and now Parker...

    Anyway...

    Thanks for the information and links. I/we appreciate them!

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    I for one can completely understand the expression "When it rains it pours" My family has had some very bed luck so far in 2013. My husband has been very sick in and out of the hospital had surgery, his small business had a FIRE!........we totally have wiped out our savings with insurance co-pays and the insurance deductible for the business add that to the loss of income (and business clients, we hope not) and guess what???????????? I can also understand what its like to have a family member's health threatened--my husband has never been ill before and we have realized REAL fast that without your health you have nothing. Some times its nice to know you are NOT alone. There are plenty of families facing these types of troubles and worse.

    I think your parents should not waste any more precious money on the vet they are currently using. I hope you can get Parker to one of these clinics in your area, its the most cost effective option. At least with a diagnoses (a proper diagnoses) you and your parents will at least know what you are dealing with....but as you know heart problems are progressive. I know this may be heart breaking to hear but if Fletcher (my one year old) had some medical issue I could not care for I would consider contacting a rescue to rehome him so he got the proper care. Touch wood that never happens. I have pet insurance for Fletcher just for that reason (keep that in mind if you ever decide to get a puppy)

    For me I try really hard not to dwell on the bad and remind myself daily it could be worse and count the blessing I do have today. My husband is a worrier tho so I understand. It helps to enjoy the little things more like walking Fletcher or playing with my kids. Some everyday mishaps like having to re-mop the kitchen floor because my son spilled milk, Fletcher trying to sneak into the pantry for a "help yourself treat", even having to "remind" my teenagers for the 12000 time to put dirty clothes in the hamper instead of the bathroom floor etc.........do not bother me as much as they once did. Its part of life living thur the good and bad. Chin up and please keep us updated on Parker and all your fur siblings.
    Melissa
    "If you don't own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life."
    -Roger Caras

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    Melissa wrote: as you know heart problems are progressive

    Well, yes and no. Yes, they will progress, but no, they do not all progress at the same rate. Some Cavaliers live into their teens with a low-grade (1-3) heart murmur that never gets worse. Others can live happily with a grade 4 and no obvious symptoms, though they may deteriorate rapidly as they get towards 7 or 8 years of age. Others will progress very rapidly from quite a young age. My Oliver developed a murmur at the age of 8, and at nearly 12 has just a grade 3; Aled, who is a rescue, arrived with a grade 1 at 18 months and at nearly 6 is now a grade 4 - but neither is on any medication. All you can do is keep them slim, watch their weight and give them plenty of exercise; Omega 3 supplements can slow down development; and starting medication too soon can cause problems rather than solve them. A low grade murmur will make no difference to lifestyle and require no medication, but as Karlin has said, only a cardiologist will be able to give you an accurate grade so that you know exactly where you are (it's simply a matter of ordinary stethoscopes not being sensitive enough to accurately interpret a murmur). So if you can afford a one-off visit to a cardiologist, or get to a health clinic, you will know what stage Parker is at and can plan accordingly - which may just mean having to do nothing about it for many years!

    Kate, Oliver and Aled

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    Agree with Kate's comments above -- as with syringomyelia, 'progressive' can have a wide band of variation.

    (it's simply a matter of ordinary stethoscopes not being sensitive enough to accurately interpret a murmur).
    I actually think the stethoscope is the same (though could be wrong on that -- but don;t think so...) -- but really, it's the specialist knowledge and experience a cardio has that enables them to hear far more on a basic listen. This is a specialist skill, not that of a generalist (eg a vet).

    When my dad was still around, we talked about this. His own speciality, respiratory diseases (in people, not dogs! ) required skill in listening to people breathe. What my dad could hear on a basic stethoscope 'breathe in; breathe out' was enormously different to what a GP could hear. Very tiny variations could give all sorts of information. At my dad's memorial lunch, one of his colleagues from the university where he taught told a couple of stories of dad correctly diagnosing unusual disorders others had missed, by simple stethoscope exam, as he was apparently particularly good at this.

    There's definitely an art to it as well as skill. I've found vets OK, but not great, at getting murmur grades right (and many tend to say it is within a range, rather than give a definitive grade)and sometimes they are way off. I got so much info about Lucy and Leo's heart murmurs from the cardio in just a 5 minute listen -- they just know what they are hearing and can give lots of detail and suggestions for treatment, if needed.

    Therefore I do really recommend trying to see a cardio at one of the low cost show clinics, as it is a great opportunity to get an accurate diagnosis at far less cost than an office visit to the cardio, or even a basic vet visit.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Leo Lily Tansy Libby (foster) Mindy (foster)
    In memory: Lucy
    Cavalier SM Infosite:www.smcavaliers.com

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karlin View Post
    I actually think the stethoscope is the same (though could be wrong on that -- but don't think so...) -- but really, it's the specialist knowledge and experience a cardio has that enables them to hear far more on a basic listen. This is a specialist skill, not that of a generalist (eg a vet).
    That is correct - it's not the stethoscope but the experience and training. I've had the same GP vet and the same cardiologist for almost 25 years. For the first five years or so, I would take my Cavaliers to both clinicians and have them auscultate the dogs - but I wouldn't share one's results with the other. They consistently gave the same grades over those years for many dogs. So now I have complete confidence in my GP vet's murmur grading. This has been especially helpful when I work with rescues because I have confidence in what my GP vet tells me. I usually have my GP vet monitor the murmur and take periodic x-rays and don't see the cardiologist until I'm thinking about starting medication. Since a trip to the cardiologist takes about six hours total, this has been very helpful.

    Pat
    Pat B
    Atlanta, GA

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