Health Initiatives » MVD Heart Testing
Heart testing in Cavaliers is an issue that should not be overlooked for any cavalier owner. All cavaliers should be regularly screened by a cardiologist starting at a year old. While a regular veterinary appointment is ok for general health issues it is not sufficient for heart screening. Only a cardiologist will be able to detect problems in the hearts of our cavaliers before they are at a serious level of Mitral Valve Disease progression.
There are three ways that a cardiologist will screen your Cavalier for MVD:
This is the Cardiologist listening to your Cavaliers heart by stethoscope. All veterinarians are trained in auscultation however Cardiologists have special training that allow them a greater understanding of what is heard by stethoscope. A regular veterinarian may miss a grade one murmur, while a cardiologist would be able to hear the slight abnormality through the stethoscope.
Echocardiography - Ultrasound
Echocardiogram's and the use of colour Doppler has allowed Cardiologists the tools needed to obtain very precise information regarding your Cavalier's heart. On the echocardiogram you are able to clearly see all structures of the heart. The Cardiologist through the colour Doppler is also able to evaluate how the blood is passing through the heart and if there are any abnormalities that are present or may form in the future. For a more detailed look at heart diagnostics please refer to Myra Ehrman's article that is posted on the Cavalier Club of Canada's health section of the website. http://cavaliercanada.com/content/view/45/105/
Radiograph – X-ray's
The use of radiograph or X-ray's for screening Mitral Valve Disease is also a useful tool. X-ray's allow veterinarians to see if the heart has become enlarged or has changed over a period of time. It is a good way to monitor changes in a cavalier who has already been diagnosed with Mitral Valve Disease through an Echocardiogram. It is not a useful way to diagnose if Mitral Valve Disease is present.
In upcoming months the Cavalier Club of Canada's health committee will be looking at hosting an annual heart clinic in addition to the study. The purpose of the heart clinic will be to bring in a cardiologist and screen many dogs at one time for Mitral Valve Disease at a reasonable cost. This clinic will be available to breeders and pet owners. More details will be available soon.
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