MVD - mitral valve disease
Acquired degenerative valvular disease is the most common cardiac disease in the dog, with the mitral valve most often affected. MVD can result in progressive cardiac enlargement and congestive heart failure. Symptoms can include shortness of breath, coughing, fainting and exercise intolerance. Heart medications, diet and weight management can give years of good quality life for Cavaliers living with MVD. Although MVD is very common in elderly small breed dogs, in the case of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, the disease has an earlier onset and a faster progression. Studies indicate that 50% of Cavaliers aged 5 and older have MVD, with nearly 100% affected by the age of 10. These statistics are the same for lines from American, English, Irish and European kennels. Cavaliers with MVD exhibit heart murmurs, which are graded I to VI depending on the intensity. Some regular veterinarians have difficulty hearing low grade murmurs, which is why breeders and owners use board certified veterinary cardiologists to listen for murmurs.
It is currently the most serious and prevalent disease in the breed. In advanced stages it can lead to heart failure and death. If a breeder does not seem to know much about it, is unwilling to share information with you, claims the tests unreliable, or tries to tell you their dogs donâ€™t get it, find another breeder. Responsible breeders try to delay the onset and severity of MVD by screening ALL of their breeding stock for this condition, using a veterinary cardiologist or the OFA*. Ask to see certificates. Look closely at the date of the examination, as the clearance is only good for one year. The certificate should state that the dog is clear. If they cannot or will not show you the certificates, find another breeder.
Places to find more information on MVD:
Living with MVD:
Health and care:
*The OFA doesn't do any heart screening but is just a database where results can be posted.
Many may not realise that the CKCS club breeding protocol on MVD, now widely recommended across all the worldwide CKCS breed clubs (and in some cases, like Sweden, an actual requirement for breeding) was only brought in in 1998. This was at the CKCS USA club's symposium on MVD, which considered the results of studies by researchers on thousands of cavaliers. Out of that came the recommendation many will be familiar with: to only breed dogs when they reach age 2.5 minimum, and have been certified heart clear AND if their parents were heart clear at age 5. Otherwise, it is advised not to breed any cavalier of unknown heart history until age 5, and only if it is murmur-free (certified by a cardiologist, not a vet, as vets are known to be poor at picking up murmurs until they are fairly serious. See: http://www.cavaliertalk.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=64
There is an abridged transcript of the proceedings here: http://www.ckcsc.org/ckcsc/formsdocs...heartsymp.PDF/
It's an important piece of cavalier history and also might help people better understand the issue of MVD (mitral valve disease) in the breed.