5a/ MITRAL VALVE DISEASE (MVD)
Mitral valve disease is the most serious disease. The statistic from North America indicates that about 50 % of all Cavaliers over the age of four have a heart murmur resulting from deterioration of the mitral valve. Further, if they reach the age of ten, 99 % will have a cardiac murmur, which will change to Mitral Valve Disease. As the blood leak in the heart progresses, the heart becomes enlarged and the dog can go into heartbreaking congestive heart failure.
The bad news:
Problem is that there are far too many breeders saying that they do not have this problem in their bloodlines, that their dogs are MVD free. If you ask to see a certificate from a cardiologist, they dont have it. And also, it is not enough to know that breeding male or female are MVD negative. You need to know about their parents and grandparents.
I get so many calls from Cavalier lovers who have lost their beloved family member to the dreaded MVD, in some cases very young.
MVD makes your pet your patient, leaves you and your family heartbroken, and robs you of your time and money as well.
Don’t be fooled by advertisements that claim heart certified. You can check the puppy as long as you want, you won’t find it because it isn’t there yet. You have to see if the parents and grandparents are clear.
The good news:
It doesn't have to be that way.
All my breeding stock comes from central Europe, where there is a very strong breeding program in place and has been for a very long time. It is taken so seriously that now the breeders can put heart clearances from certified cardiologists on the pedigree of each dog.
You can see ticking hearts in bloodlines of my dogs, which indicate that those certificates are already registered with the Kennel Club and printed on those pedigrees. There are many more, but it will take a long time to get all the information from older dogs and get it on the pedigree.
MVD Breeding protocol - to reduce the incidence of MVD in Cavaliers.
The disease can be decreased and the age of onset delayed by following guidelines of only breeding Cavaliers who have hearts free from MVD murmurs, and have parents, possibly grandparents as well, whose hearts were MVD murmur-free at age 5 years or later. No Cavaliers should be bred which have murmurs before age 5 years.
Some affected dogs can live for many years if they are treated to some degree with medication - but, sadly, the heart problem cuts short the lives of far too many Cavaliers.
MVD is still the leading cause of death in Cavaliers.
5b/ SYRINGOMYELIA (SM):
In short: Syringomyelia is an extremely serious genetic condition in which cavities develop within the spinal cord near the brain, and fill with fluid. It is also known as “neck scratcher’s disease” because one of its common signs is scratching in the air near the neck. Every dog coming into Europe has to be screen by MRI before can be used for breeding.
As the decades pass by, selective breeding will lead to longer lifespans.
5c/ UMBILICAL HERNIA:
This type of hernia is also very common in puppies of any breed and seldom needs to be repaired and does not harm the puppy as future health is a concern. A hernia is a protrusion or bulge of a part of the body tissue or fat through the opening of the surrounding tissue. It is most likely caused when the mother Cavalier King Charles Spaniel pulls too hard on the umbilical cord at birth causing the hernia.
If the bubble cannot be pushed back up into the abdomen it is called a non-reducible hernia. If the bubble can be pushed back up into the abdomen then it is called a reducible hernia and surgery is advisable at the time of spaying or neutering the puppy.
It is essential with either condition to reduce the tissue escaping at least once daily. Turn the puppy on its back and gently massage the protrusion and slide the contents back up into the abdomen.
5d/ “INNOCENT” PUPPY MURMUR
Some heart murmurs are called benign (or innocent or physiological), meaning there is no apparent heart disease that explains the murmur. These murmurs are often seen in puppies. This type of murmur is soft (typically a grade 2 or softer) and is not caused by underlying heart disease. An innocent flow murmur typically disappears by 4-5 months of age.
5e/ STRATEGIC DEWORMING GUIDELINES
- Every 2 weeks until 3 months of age
- Once/month from 3 to 6 mo of age
- Four times/year after 6 mo of age
- Treat regularly considering potential exposure to parasites and prepatent periods (4 times/year)
- A continued surveillance of parasite prevalence in your area is recommended
5f/ WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
When you place your hands on your pet’s side, are his/her ribs hard to feel or even impossible to feel through a layer of fat? This could mean your pet is overweight or obese, conditions that vets associate with many potentially painful and even hazardous medical problems. Your vet can tell you if your pet is overweight, ask for a weight check on your next visit.
The rule is: you should feel the ribs and see the figure of your dog (but not to see the ribs!)
Some of the serious health effects of obesity include arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, breathing difficulty, diabetes, skin disease, skeletal problems, and even bladder cancer, as well as several other conditions. Excess weight can affect your pet’s energy levels and the ability to enjoy a full life.
There are many easily identifiable causes of weight gain in pets:
* Overfeeding – Pets with unlimited access to food often become overweight. Feeding puppies too much can create extra fat cells that stay with a pet for life. Puppies should be converted to a good quality adult food between 6 and 9 months.
Also, you can give your dog the same amount of food in a day, just give him/her more in the morning and less in the evening.
* Overeating – Many commercial foods are loaded with salt and fat. This improves the taste but can result in over-consumption.
* Feeding habits – Feeding table scraps and home-cooked meals can lead to obesity.
* Treats – Watch the number of treats (we use mostly all-natural “Puffed Rice”).
* Quantity – Toy dogs do not require more than 1 (one cup of food per day even as adults. Therefore you must take into consideration any other items fed to your pet during the day as part of the dog’s full daily intake.
* Lack of exercise – Too much food and too little exercise can cause weight gain and remember: letting one dog out into your yard is not an exercise, but letting two dogs out, is.
* Age – Older, less active pets are prone to weight gain.
* Gender – Female pets are more likely to experience weight gain.
* Neutering/Spaying – Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumors, which are malignant or cancerous in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases. Neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems. Spayed or neutered pets are twice as likely to become obese.
Up to half of all cavalier King Charles spaniels may have both an abnormally low number of blood platelets and oversized platelets. Despite the low platelet counts, the typical cavalier's blood platelets function normally, and the dog does not appear to experience any health problems due to either the size or fewer numbers of its platelets. Excessively low platelet counts normally is a sign which tends to alarm general practice veterinarians, and so it is vitally important that cavalier owners alert their vets about this benign condition in the breed when blood tests are ordered and it is not an excuse for delaying spay/neuter your dog.
Body condition system
Vets recognize food plays a very important role in treating a pet that is overweight. Along with exercise, food with reduced fat and calories is ssential in helping your pet lose weight and stay fit. Fiber is also a key ingredient in food used for weight loss since it reduces the caloric density of the food while providing the bulk necessary to satisfy your pet’s hunger. Once your pet has been overweight, he/she may be prone to weight gain and should have an ongoing plan based on a good diet, exercise, and regular check-ups that include regular weight checks.
EACH EXTRA POUND OF EXCESS WEIGHT CAN CONTRIBUTE TO SERIOUS HEALTH PROBLEMS FOR YOUR PET.