February 2016: UK Kennel

Heart disease in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

IMG_2265There are many causes of congestive heart failure in dogs. Mitral valve disease (MVD) is a degenerative disease of the heart valves affecting the mitral valve on the left side of the heart. MVD is a common cause of heart murmur and congestive heart failure in dog breeds like Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

Prognosis is guarded once signs of congestive heart failure develop. Left-sided congestive heart failure leads to fluid build-up in the lungs which can cause coughing and breathing difficulties in your dog.

ABOUT THE HEART
  • The heart is divided into 4 chambers: right atrium (RA), right ventricle (RV), left atrium (LA), left ventricle (LV).
  • Blood enters the RA from the head, neck and abdomen, and flows into the RV where it is pumped through the pulmonary artery into the lungs.
  • Blood is then oxygenated before it flows back to the heart into the LA and then the LV. The oxygenated blood is then pumped forcefully from the LV into the aorta and back into the rest of the body.
  • A valve is present between the upper and lower chambers of the heart (tricuspid valve and mitral valve) and between each ventricle and major blood vessel (pulmonary valve and aortic valve). The function of these valves is to prevent the blood from flowing backwards as the heart pumps.
FullSizeRenderCommon signs of congestive heart failure
  • coughing
  • tachypnea (rapid breathing)
  • dyspnea (laboured breathing)
  • lethargy
  • poor appetite
  • weight loss & muscle wasting
  • sudden collapse

Congestive heart failure is a progressive disease. Pets living with congestive heart failure have to monitored very closely, especially for signs of breathing difficulties. Limit your dog’s activities to avoid straining the heart and provide a low-salt diet to decrease fluid build-up in the body.

When medical therapy fails to manage your dog’s condition and provide a good quality of life, euthanasia is the kindest option.

While it is tough to see Kopi living with congestive heart failure, we are glad her family is positive and optimistic. No doom and gloom for this sweet and strong girl who was wagging cheerfully after the procedure.

heart_diagram_large FullSizeRender_1 IMG_2287 DSC_8800
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