Degenerative mitral valve disease in dogs is a serious condition that can lead to blood leaking during heart muscle contractions. This can cause further issues like heart murmurs and more serious consequences to your dog's health. Today, our Ventura veterinary specialists discuss mitral valve disease including signs and treatments.
Dogs who are older than eight years old are susceptible to this highly prevalent disease. Small dog breeds, such as Chihuahuas, Miniature Schnauzers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Shih Tzus, Dachshunds, Whippets, and Cocker Spaniels, as well as some larger breeds and mixed breeds, are more likely to suffer from this condition.
What causes mitral valve disease In dogs?
The mitral valve, which divides the left ventricle from the left atrium, is one of the heart's four valves. When the heart contracts in healthy dogs, this valve closes, stopping blood from "backing up" or regurgitating back into the atrium.
A leaky mitral valve can cause a cascade of other issues, including an enlarged atrium, fluid buildup in the lungs, and damage to the structures of the heart.
Symptoms Of Mitral Valve Disease In Dogs
Many young dogs will exhibit very few symptoms, or so few that their loving owners may mistake it for the inevitable slowing down that comes with getting older. However, the following are a few common signs of canine mitral valve disease:
- Intolerance for exercise intolerance
- Trouble breathing
- Increased respiratory rate
Diagnosing Mitral Valve Disease In Dogs
The only person who can accurately diagnose your dog is your veterinarian. The veterinarian will start by giving your dog a comprehensive physical examination when you bring him in. This allows your veterinarian to identify any heart murmurs well in advance of other, more serious symptoms appearing. In addition, your veterinarian might suggest a few more diagnostic procedures, such as:
- Radiography. X-rays can give us more information about your dog's internal condition, including the presence of any fluid in the lungs
- Echocardiography. This diagnostic tool is a way to better understand the structure and function of the valves and heart
- NT-proBNP. This blood test can show indications of advanced heart failure, especially if there is a large amount of 'regurgitated' blood
Your dog may also need further testing to check the functioning of their other internal systems, in order to clear them for medications needed to treat their condition.
Treating Mitral Valve Disease In Dogs
There are a large number of drugs that can be used to address mitral valve disease in your pooch, meaning that it's critical for the type and dosage of medications must be carefully calculated for each unique case.
Because this is a progressive disease, your dog's condition will require different medications at different times. The following are some of the medications that are most frequently used to treat this illness in dogs:
- Diuretics (e.g. furosemide)
- Vasodilators (e.g. enalapril, benazepril, pimobendan)
- Positive inotropes (e.g. pimobendan, digoxin)
Depending on your dog's case, they may be prescribed other drugs to deal with health issues like high pressure in the vessels of the lungs
Sadly, there is no known cure for this disease at this time, and the medications are palliative in nature to ensure your dog's comfort and extend their life as much as possible.
Life Expectancy for Dogs With Mitral Valve Disease
The degree of disease progression at the time of diagnosis will determine your dog's prognosis. Several dogs with symptoms may only live a few months, but if detected early on, many more canines may live for many more years. A veterinarian's diagnosis can identify mitral valve disease's presence and stage, allowing for the start of the proper course of treatment for your dog.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.
If your dog has been diagnosed with mitral valve disease or another advanced heart condition, ask for a referral to our Ventura veterinary specialists. Our team is experienced in diagnosing and treating a number of complex diseases in beloved companion animals!
Your veterinary specialist in VenturaWe're always accepting new patients, so contact our veterinary hospital today to book your pet's first appointment.
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