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Thread: Heart Murmers

  1. #1
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    Default Heart Murmers

    I took Max to the vets this morning for his booster and she detected a slight heart murmur. She says it is very slight at the moment (possibly a grade one)and does not need any treatment but he is still quite young; he's just 4. She told me to keep an eye on him and I notice anything different to go back but otherwise she would see him next year. I'm new to keeping cavaliers so other than a cough I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be looking for and if I should take him back for check ups more regularly. Can anyone advise
    Sheila H [EMAIL="halls.1@hotmail.co.uk"]

  2. #2

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    Well, I'm unsure as to what others might say, but as a beginning I would cease having yearly boosters. If you're concerned about Max's possible lack of immunity, ask your vet to titre test him (blood is taken and the levels of immunity checked). Make sure you keep his teeth clean (any kind of infection in the gums can place stress on the system). With a very slight murmur you're unlikely to see any change in his behaviour at all, but if he starts to breathe rapidly or irregularly or struggle for breath take him to the vet as soon as possible. If his exercise tolerance drops and he sleeps a lot (sometimes difficult to tell with Cavaliers!) your vet will probably advise meds. Also - keep him on the lean side, weight wise. If he's currently a bit heavier than he should be, it may be that losing the weight will quote cure unquote him. Vitamin E, although thought now not to be helpful, does have a side effect of thinning the blood slightly, so easing any burden on the heart.

    Have you joined your local Cavalier Club (I think it's the Midland for Birmingham)? The Clubs usually organise heart testing once a year by a qualified cardiologist, which is inexpensive, although if the murmur does progress and Max is insured you could take him to a cardiologist through your vet. There are different kinds of murmurs, which is why a cardiologist's opinion is often more helpful - as a FWIW, having had a girl of mine diagnosed with CHF (chronic heart failure) and given meds by my vet, I had her checked on a Club day by the cardiologist. She agreed with everything my vet had said apart from that she would have doubled the dose of one of the meds. That was three years ago.

    Most of all? Don't worry too much.
    Sheena Stevens

  3. #3

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    I agree with Sheena Stevens to lay off of the booster shots. Only "healthy" dogs are supposed to be vaccinated, and I always look for any excuse not to vaccinate our dogs, so having a murmur is as good an excuse as any.

    Here is a link to any article on "So your cavalier has a heart murmur. What do you do next?" http://www.cavalierhealth.org/blog.htm#October_13,_2014 In short, I suggest getting a couple of x-rays of the heart as a baseline for comparing the size if and when it starts to enlarge.

    Also, have his heart examined by stethoscope (auscultation) every 6 to 12 months by a vet who knows how to hear murmurs.

    And, supplement a good diet which includes fresh meat and vegetables. That would mean not feeding dry food at all. Look for a good canned variety with meat as the protein. Here is a link to a list of supplements: http://www.cavalierhealth.org/diets....hy_Supplements
    Rod Russell

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the very useful information, I thought boosters were essential but will think again now. Interesting stuff about diets as well Rod. When I first had Max he wouldn't touch dried food but he got a taste for it after staying with my daughter and stealing her lab's food. I'll take it off him again now. I'll also look into joining the Midland Cavalier club as Sheen suggests
    Sheila H [EMAIL="halls.1@hotmail.co.uk"]

  5. #5

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    Don’t worry too much! Look out for lethargy or a cough, or maybe a distended abdomen, but that is a very late symptom. Many Cavaliers can have a murmur that doesn’t change for years.

    At a lecture given by a senior veterinary cardiologist in France a few years ago, just after the World Show, he said that several things had been certainly proven by the system of taking ultrasounds of hearts. The scheme has been in place for almost 14 years.

    One is that, on average, dogs are affected at a younger age than bitches. Another is that there is absolutely no difference between the colours – there was a time when it was thought wholecolours were more prone. The third was that, again ON AVERAGE, dogs in households with fewer than three or four dogs were more prone to have earlier onset MVD that dogs in multidog households and breeders’ kennels – and yes, there are quite a few breeders in France whose dogs live in kennels. The one thing he could NOT do was give an explanation! He’d like to claim it was diet, but quite a lot of kennel dogs had commercial diets and quite a lot had “natural" diets, but there seemed to be no difference there. “Natural” diets varied: they could be the dogs being fed cooked meat, veg and pasta or similar, to completely raw foods and anything in between. The one thing that seems impossible to get hold of here is the most natural diet of all: raw green tripe, which I fed in the UK for years until I got a batch that made my dogs ill, and it put me off for life. The only certainty was that the dogs in households with fewer dogs tended to be more overweight and be given more “treats” which could be high in salt.

    Ultrasound generally detects defects in the mitral valve rather earlier than auscultation. Sometimes a murmur is audible very early, and some are louder than the visual would suggest, but the majority are visible long before there is any audible murmur. One of my dogs, aged 7, got to Stade 2 and there was nothing audible by either the cardiologist who did the ultrasound or my vet, who was both relieved that it wasn’t his hearing that was defective and disappointed for me that I didn’t have a clear dog at age 7.

    One of the other discoveries, which another cardiologist had seen because he keeps his own records and looks at results of heart tests – all breeds of dogs and cats – for his own interest, is that some dogs develop a murmur comparatively young but it doesn’t deteriorate very fast. Others can be affected late, but then the heart degenerates very quickly.

    Because of these findings the French scheme allows dogs with low grade MVD (Stade 1 at over two years of age, Stade 2 over three years of age) to be used for breeding purposes: the aim is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    My own Rascally was at Stade 1 at the age of just three years! She has been on medication for about three years and is now approaching her 15th birthday. She’s a bit arthritic but otherwise fine. Her sister Raziela was still Stade 1 at 6 years 8 months: she’s a bit fitter than Rascally. Vincent went to Stade 3 (nasty shock!) at not quite 6, but he’s over 11 and doesn’t yet need heart medication.

    The last time one of my dogs was tested under the official scheme was 31 May 2015, and the official test number was 13,194. This does not mean, though, that over 13,000 Cavaliers have been tested as many have been tested two, three, or four times: the test results is valid for 18 months.

    The vaccine protocol didn’t come into it, as those of us who show are obliged to have at least rabies vaccine, it is highly advisable wherever one lives to have Leptospirosis vaccine and most show people vaccinate against kennel cough using pneumodog, although it’s not a legal requirement. I do have all my dogs vaccinated, but not every year for parvovirus, distemper and hepatitis unless they’re going into the boarding kennels as they insist that vaccines are less than a year old before the date the dog will leave the kennels: possibly a clause of their Insurance; I don’t know.

    Jane
    Last edited by Janelise; 07-16-2015 at 09:57 AM.

  6. #6
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    Thanks Jane, I feel a lot better about it now
    Sheila H [EMAIL="halls.1@hotmail.co.uk"]

  7. #7

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    I have just recently said goodbye to my boy who was born with a grade 4 heart murmur he was 11yrs old and his kidneys were going and he was also a diabetic but he lived a very full life. I never had to take him to the vets only for his 6 monthly checks he ran round Hatfield forest like a young healthy dog, he was put on insulin when he was eight but that didn't even bother him. He enjoyed every minute of his life and I was honoured to have him.He never had a booster.
    Last edited by betty storar; 07-16-2015 at 04:54 PM.

  8. #8
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    Sheila, This is not to dismiss his heart murmur in any way at all but many of my older girls have had heart murmurs of all grades and it was mostly other conditions that took them from us before the murmur became a threat to life. Cushing's, liver failure, kidney failure and general old age and SM have taken many of mine. Keep him under the eye of your vet and learn what you can but please don't let it spoil the enjoyment that you gain from him. My oldest girl here at 14 has a grade 1 murmur and only just found which is wonderful and another at 9 has a grade 4 murmur but you wouldn't on face value know that the youngest Cavalier was the worst of the two as she still runs like the wind and enjoys her old life and not on any meds Another at 8 is still heart clear so only time will tell with her but her other health problems (same as the 9 year old) are equally of importance for her future.

    Enjoy him Sheila

    Alison.

  9. #9

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    Both of mine have grade 3 murmurs. Alfie (8) was diagnosed grade 2 in 2012, Grade 3 in early 2013 - and has stayed at grade 3 since I started giving him the following in 2013. I feed mine on Harringtons

    Both of mine have Co~Q 10, which is good for heart muscles

    they have one of these with their breakfast every day www.naturesbest.co.uk/co-q10-30mg

    And 2 of these with their tea every day www.healthspan.co.uk/vetvits/multivitality-senior

    It wont cure the heart disease, but might hold it off for a while
    Click this line to see Alfie's Picasa web photo albums

    Click this line to see Alfie's You Tube videos
    .
    Mark, and my Blen - Lexie DOB 7/07/11, and my B/T - Katie DOB 01/12/12

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