Case study: mitral valve disease
Jack the cheeky eight year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel came in for his yearly vaccination and routine health check. During the examination, a heart murmur was detected. After questioning his owners, there was some concern that he may have been a bit slower on his walks lately too.
A heart murmur is simply an abnormal sound produced when blood is pumped through the heart. It can be caused by a diseased heart valve or other abnormality, but can also occur when blood flows very fast across normal structures (especially if a pet is excited).
X-rays of Jack’s heart revealed his heart was enlarged but there was no congestion (blood pooling) in his lungs. His owners opted for a more in-depth work up which included an ultrasound of his heart. This looked at all the structures of the heart more closely, and determined that the underlying cause of the heart murmur was mitral valve disease.
This disease is common in small breed dogs and is caused by a ‘wearing out’ of the mitral valve, which separates the left atrium and left ventricle. It can lead to congestive heart failure and can be fatal.
Jack was started on a medication that helps to improve the pumping mechanism of his heart. This will slow the progression of heart failure, and it reduces the amount of work the heart has to do over time. Studies have shown that this medication can improve a dog’s longevity and quality of life if started early enough.
It is likely that early detection means that Jack will live a longer and healthier life. He also has more energy on his walks and is one happy little pooch!
If you have any concerns about your pet, we are always here to help.