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Thread: Newly diagnosed MVD

  1. #1
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    Default Newly diagnosed MVD

    Hi, I'm a mom to 2 Cavaliers, Sammy, tricolor and Charlie, blenheim. Both are 7 years old and were rehomed to me at age 2. They're both from a pet store, but different "breeders" (if you can call them that) and litters. We live in San Diego, CA.

    On Friday night Charlie suffered some sort of collapse - couldn't stand on his back legs, and was dazed and out of it. He was rushed to the emergency vet; I thought he had a seizure but they found a level 4 heart murmur. An echocardiogram confirmed MVD. They're still not sure what happened to him; possibly he fainted. His body temperature was also low, so they kept him overnight, then sent him home with no medications. He's doing fine now, but obviously I'm concerned for the long term.

    I have to call my regular vet when they open tomorrow to confirm when his last visit was, but I don't think it's been over a year. Certainly not more than a year and a half. (My dogs rarely leave the house/yard and I do vaccine titers, so I may have held off a bit on his yearly checkup.) At his last exam he had no murmur, obviously if he had I would be taking him in much more often! That's also why I'm really concerned...is it common to go from healthy to a level 4 in such a short time? He has had no symptoms at all until Saturday. No coughing or excessive panting. He's acting fine again now, too.

    I don't have a sense of what the long term prognosis is here. The emergency vet said that medications typically aren't used unless/until the dog has congestive heart failure. Is that true? Isn't there something more I can do before it gets that bad? Realistically, how long will my little guy be with me? I anticipated having to deal with this at some point because I know how common MVD is, but he's only 7. I was thinking if anything he might be just starting to get a murmur now. I'm scared and really need answers...even if they're not what I want to hear. Any advice will be really appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Hi Ayesha. I'm sorry you got this diagnosis for your Charlie. Unfortunately, MVD is something our cavaliers are prone to. You did the right thing bringing him to the emergency vet. The symptoms you described are very typical of MVD, including weakness in the hind legs and fainting. I would strongly suggest that you ask your vet for a referral to a vet cardiologist and get Charlie assessed. He may not need medication at this time, but his progression should be monitored very carefully.

    I know how scary this is as I lost my 12 year old cavalier to heart disease last year. I'm also in the San Diego area and found a good cardiologist here for him. You can also go to this website to read up on MVD.

    http://www.cavalierhealth.org/mitral_valve_disease.htm

    Good luck and let us know what your vet says.
    Joyce - Proudly owned & loved by

    BellaMia (Aug. 30, 2012) My Beautiful Ruby Milo (Jan. 20, 2014) My Handsome Tri
    Sydney (
    April 16, 2000~April 4, 2012) Always and Forever In My Heart

  3. #3
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    Who is your cardiologist? I heard there is one at the UC Davis branch?

    I called the vet this morning and their records show Charlie was last there in Nov 2012, 9 months ago. They didn't note a murmur. I thought it's easy to detect? Either the vet messed up, or this came on very, very fast. I have been seeing the same vets for years, they are very nice and rather expensive. Now I don't know whether to trust them...is it possible that he went from healthy to grade 4 in 9 months?

    He has an appointment tomorrow morning. I will try to assess how knowledgable they are, but thinking he needs a cardiologist, regardless.

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    Hi Ayesna. I'm sorry to hear about your sweetie Charlie. You were smart to take him to the emergency vet. Heart murmurs ARE harder to detect and regular vets are NOT cardiologist so its not unheard of for a regular vet check up to miss it. I do think you need to find a cardiologist for Charlie and do at much reading about MVD as possible. Unfortunately, this is VERY common in our sweet breed. I read all cavaliers have some grade of heart murmur by age 10, the best we can hope for to avoid early onset. MVD is a progressive condition however its progression depends on the dog. Generally, no medication is needed until heart failure. There just is not a medication available that can slow it down or cure MVD (won't that be awesome)
    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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    Hi Ayesna. I'm sorry to hear about your sweetie Charlie. You were smart to take him to the emergency vet. Heart murmurs ARE harder to detect and regular vets are NOT cardiologist so its not unheard of for a regular vet check up to miss it. I do think you need to find a cardiologist for Charlie and do at much reading about MVD as possible. Unfortunately, this is VERY common in our sweet breed. I read all cavaliers have some grade of heart murmur by age 10, the best we can hope for to avoid early onset. MVD is a progressive condition however its progression depends on the dog. Generally, no medication is needed until heart failure. There just is not a medication available that can slow it down or cure MVD (won't that be awesome)
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by Ayesha View Post
    ... The emergency vet said that medications typically aren't used unless/until the dog has congestive heart failure. Is that true? Isn't there something more I can do before it gets that bad?
    There is a "Consensus Statement" published by a group of ACVIM board certified cardiologists who do not recommend any medications before the dog is in "congestive heart failure" (CHF), with the possible exception of an ACE-inhibitor being prescribed once the dog has significant heart enlargement. See the Consensus Statement at http://www.cavalierhealth.org/corneal.htm

    The way to determine if he is in CHF is by counting his breaths per minute while asleep or resting, explained here: http://www.cavalierhealth.org/mitral...piratory_rates If his average resting rate is over 30 breaths per minute, he may be in CHF and definitely needs to see the vet quickly, preferably a cardiologist.

    There is a list of board certified cardiologists at http://www.cavalierhealth.org/Cardiologists.htm
    Rod Russell

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    Ayesha;432357]Who is your cardiologist? I heard there is one at the UC Davis branch?
    How is Charlie today? Not sure where in San Diego you are, but the cardiologist I went to is in Mission Valley. If you want I will PM you the information. She is also listed on the web site Rod listed above.

    Good luck....let us know what the vet says.
    Joyce - Proudly owned & loved by

    BellaMia (Aug. 30, 2012) My Beautiful Ruby Milo (Jan. 20, 2014) My Handsome Tri
    Sydney (
    April 16, 2000~April 4, 2012) Always and Forever In My Heart

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    Most Cavaliers with a grade 4 murmur will show no symptoms and, as others have said, require no medication. There is some evidence that Omega 3 fish oil can slow down the development of a murmur, and as Omega 3 has other beneficial results, there is no harm in giving it to them. Ordinary vets, as opposed to cardiologists, can easily misdiagnose murmurs - either not hearing them or grading them wrongly; they simply haven't been trained to interpret what they are hearing in a way that a cardiologist would.

    From your description, Charlie's wobbly back legs and faintness could have been nothing to do with his heart. Older dogs (and 7 is getting towards late middle age!) can have vestibular episodes (related to the vestibular coil in the middle ear which controls balance). My 12-year-old Oliver had one earlier this year, with symptoms as you describe, and they can look very scary. Oliver recovered from his within a few hours, but other dogs can take a day or two. The episode has no obvious cause, leaves no lasting damage and the only treatment is rest. Oliver has a grade 3 murmur. Aled, my other Cavalier, has a grade 4 at age 6, but has no symptoms at all. All you can do is keep Charlie fit, with plenty of exercise and watching his weight, put worries about the future to the back of your mind for the moment and enjoy him (and see a cardiologist and perhaps give Omega 3).

    Kate, Oliver and Aled

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