Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) is the most common form of heart disease in dogs and usually occurs in small to medium size dogs weighing less than 20kg, such as Fox Terriers, Poodles, Schnauzers and Chihuahuas.
What happens to a dog when he or she has Heart Disease?
It causes heart valves to thicken, which prevents them from closing fully after each pump of the heart. This causes some of the blood to flow backwards, creating a ‘murmur’ which only a veterinarian can hear with a stethoscope. High rates of breathing, shortness of breath and fainting - are some of the signs of Mitral Valve Disease (MVD).
Heart disease in early stages is not readily observable and your dog’s body may adjust to cope with the disease, showing no visible signs of being unwell. In time, however, your dog’s body will no longer be able to adjust to cope with the disease and this can lead to Congestive Heart Failure (CHF).
For these reasons, it is crucial that you get your dog’s heart checked regularly by your veterinarian.
Signs of heart failure in your dog that you may notice include any of the following in any combination:
- Changes in breathing
- Difficulty with breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Laboured breathing
- Rapid/fast breathing
- Changes in behaviour
- Tiring easily
- Reluctance to exercise/not wanting to go for walks
- Less playful
- Slowing down/lack of energy
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Restlessness, especially at night
- Swollen abdomen
The signs of heart failure can be subtle and mistaken for changes associated with aging. Watch as your dog goes about his or her daily activities. If you notice any changes in your dog's behaviour, appetite, or level of movement, talk to your veterinarian.
If you have noticed 2 or more of the signs above, talk to your veterinarian about heart disease and heart failure during your visit." - www.Heart2HeartHome.co.za
Is there a cure for Heart Disease in Dogs?
While there is no cure, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment and management of MVD can increase your dog's opportunity to lead a healthier, happier and longer life. Studies show that treatment intervention during early stages of MVD can delay the onset of heart failure and prolong your dog’s life by an average of 15 months.
Early treatment intervention offers a lifeline to dogs with heart disease and prolongs their quality of life. If you notice any changes in your dog's behaviour, appetite, or level of movement; if you suspect that your dog could be at risk; or if you own a small breed dog over the age of 7 years, it is crucial that you get your dog’s heart checked regularly by your veterinarian.