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Mitral Valve Regurgitation


abcollie
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I have a friend that has a 3 year old bitch that was just diagnosed with it. After research and info from vets it’s very RARE in Border Collies. Actually it’s usually only in older dogs or Dobermans.

 

She took her in to be spayed and after the surgery the vets noticed a heart murmur and ran tests (they didn’t find it before the surgery but figured they just missed it - I guess it’s in a “odd” place in the heart?).

 

Anyone have any experience with it?

 

 

Thanks!

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My almost 11 y/o BC has it. An ultra sound showed that she had scarring of her mitral valve. The vet told me it is most commonly caused by a defect or periodontal disease. But it wasn't detected until she was 9, and her teeth have always been great. At the time of her first ultra sound the vet said what he saw with her heart was what he commonly saw in older toy breeds with crummy teeth.

 

Eventually it will lead to CHF. The first time we went in for an ultra sound almost two years ago, there was no significant change. Last year's showed her heart was starting to enlarge and the vet put her on enalapril (which can be bought at Wal-Mart for $10/90 day supply). I'll take her back in another month or so to get it checked again. So far my dog has not shown many outward signs of CHF. She tires a bit easier, but still exercises well and does light stockwork. Her breathing rate is a bit faster than my other dogs, but still not bad. I also haven't yet noticed the coughing that comes as the disease progresses.

 

The next step in meds will be lasix, and maybe Vetmedin (which is rather expensive, but really works to help the heart pump more efficiently and can significantly increase the lifespan of a dog with CHF).

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She tires a bit easier, but still exercises well and does light stockwork. Her breathing rate is a bit faster than my other dogs, but still not bad. I also haven't yet noticed the coughing that comes as the disease progresses.

 

They said they have caught it early and have put her 2 meds (she told me and I can't remember which ones) but said she could get them "over the counter".

 

I'm glad to hear she can still do light stockwork. That's what I told her ... she wants to work the dog ... the dog wants to work (we're not talking "double lifts" here) she only comes out on weekends ... she (the owner) works full time. I don't think the dog wants to sit and "just be a dog" for the rest of her life but we don't want her in pain either.

 

Thanks for the info ... I'll pass it along.

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Mara's post is another example of the wide-reaching effects of periodontal disease. Heart problems have, I believe, been shown in people with periodontal disease. For some reason, infections in the mouth can often result in infections/disease in the heart.

 

Best wishes for your friend's dog, Candy.

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I'm glad to hear she can still do light stockwork. That's what I told her ... she wants to work the dog ... the dog wants to work (we're not talking "double lifts" here) she only comes out on weekends ... she (the owner) works full time. I don't think the dog wants to sit and "just be a dog" for the rest of her life but we don't want her in pain either.

 

I look at it as a quality of life issue. My dog loves her sheep work, and likes her games of fetch, too. I'm not going to take those away from her. I just have a small farm flock and let my dog do gathers and barnyard chores. Seeing the expression on her face afterward is proof enough to me that it's the right thing for her, even if And it would shorten her life a bit. The vet wholeheartedly agreed with this. We'll also do 10 minute games of fetch and I keep it easier for her and don't play when it's hot outside. Pretty much just use common sense while letting her enjoy her life.

 

I don't think there is a lot of pain with CHF. My grandpa had it and he just gradually tired easier and easier as it progressed because his heart was not working as efficiently. You just need to be aware of and not let the dog overdo it which will put added stress on the heart and cause it to progress faster.

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The owner use to be a nurse so knows about the issue from people ... she should be able to gauge "how much" and when "enough is enough".

 

She's the nicest person in the world and just wants to do this as a relaxing hobby ... not going that way for her. She had a BC she was just getting with and starting to do well with (not to mention how much she loved him) die from some rare lymphoma. She's had the worse luck with dogs ... feel really badly for her.

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My cocker spaniel who passed away a number of years ago had it - caused by a congenital defect - the main thing my vet recommended was regular exercise (to whatever level the dog can tolerate), a quality diet and not overfeeding, treating illness/injury as quickly and conservatively as possible. Cassie lived to be 17 and died of cancer but couldn't tolerate anethesia after she was 13 due to her heart; she tolerated my poking around in her mouth to keep her teeth clean and my vet would clean her teeth 1 or 2 at a time when needed.

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My cocker spaniel who passed away a number of years ago had it - caused by a congenital defect - the main thing my vet recommended was regular exercise (to whatever level the dog can tolerate), a quality diet and not overfeeding, treating illness/injury as quickly and conservatively as possible. Cassie lived to be 17 and died of cancer but couldn't tolerate anethesia after she was 13 due to her heart; she tolerated my poking around in her mouth to keep her teeth clean and my vet would clean her teeth 1 or 2 at a time when needed.

 

Wow, that makes me feel better :@)

 

She hikes with her dogs (hill hikes) during the week and then works them on the weekends (maybe one more time during the week).

 

We "assume" it's a congenital defect since her teeth are fine (and the parents are working dogs and fine). They would have never found it if a vet hadn't listened in just the right spot. They had checked her heart a number of times while prepping for surgery and missed it.

 

Good info ... thanks!

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Looking back I think my second post may have sounded a bit doom and gloom. So I just wanted to add that so far (two years after initial diagnosis) my dog still shows no outward symptoms. She sleeps sounder and seems more tired at times and that's about it. She is probably more fit and active than most 11 y/o dogs out ther She gets at least a mile of walking/running exercise most days when I take all the dogs for their run in the field some days it's more than that.

 

Even though her initial diagnosis was a bit of a shock, this has been fairly simple to deal with as far as chronic conditions go. My dog is still quite happy, fairly active and pain free. Management so far as included regular vet checks and a cardiac ultrasound ever 8-12 months and inexpensive medication. Even when it does progress into congestive heart failure, medication such as Vetmedin have significantly increase the lifespan of many dog in CHF.

 

 

These aren't the greatest pictures, but they are fairly recent. My girl still holds her own with my younger two quite nicely :rolleyes:

IMG_6539.jpg

 

She is the middle dog here

IMG_6999.jpg

 

I hope your friend and her dog have many years left to enjoy life together :D

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Just curious if they did an ultrasound on your friend's dog or not? If not, I'm not sure how they could say for sure it was mitral valve regurgitation. My BC developed a heart murmur around 9 (she's almost 12 now) and its been ultrasounded a couple times and is mitral valve regurgitation. However, they said its not bad enough to start meds yet. In the 3 years she's had a heart murmur, I've noticed absolutely no changes with her and do activity as normal. My 16yr old dog, a spaniel cross also has mitral valve regurgiation and my 10yr old cat does as well...seems to be a trend in this household. None of them are on meds at this point. The oldest dog may have the heart disease due to periodontal disease, but my BC and the cat both have good teeth and always have.

At a conference I went to once where they were talking about heart disease, they said it can easily be 5 or so years between when the murmur is first detected, and when the heart starts to be obviously compromised. I believe heart murmurs can also show up due to blood loss, hypotension, certain medications and can't remember what else. If they noticed the murmur when she was in for the spay, I'd recommend they recheck the heart at a later date just to make sure the murmur is still there. If it were my young dog, I would try to get a referral to a cardiologist to figure out the best possible plan.

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Just curious if they did an ultrasound on your friend's dog or not? If not, I'm not sure how they could say for sure it was mitral valve regurgitation. My BC developed a heart murmur around 9 (she's almost 12 now) and its been ultrasounded a couple times and is mitral valve regurgitation. However, they said its not bad enough to start meds yet. In the 3 years she's had a heart murmur, I've noticed absolutely no changes with her and do activity as normal.

 

Yes, they did a ultrasound (those aren't cheap :@) ... because they said they hadn't found the murmur before the surgery and were worried because it showed up after the surgery (week later if I remember). Actually it was a different vet than the one that did the surgery, that found the murmur (she went in for another issue). So, once the murmur was found they decided on a ultrasound to find out what was going on.

 

I wondered about the medication they gave her during the surgery causing it? It just seemed odd that NO one detected it before the surgery ... but they said the murmur was on the left side where they usually don't check heart rates???

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Not sure about dogs, but in humans, quieter murmurs need to be listened for in certain places or they can easily be missed. My old Pete developed a loud heart murmur at about age 11; our vet reflexively called in mitral regurgitation, but when he and I discussed the fact that most "old people" murmurs are aortic stenosis (a stiffening of the aortic valve as opposed to incompetence of the mitral valve) he agreed that it could easily be the case. Treatment is the same as others have indicated, basically watch for and treat the signs of CHF...but aortic stenosis is less likely to be caused by some outside problem like dental infection, for example...it's kind of like "arthritis of the valve". Pete went on enalapril at about age 13 when his stamina decreased obviously, and he died of a stroke at 14+.

 

Ray's Sally will be 14 on July 4th and she's still happily pottering around despite her murmur which is also probably aortic stenosis. She has zero signs of CHF so is not on meds at all. She's going deaf but that's obviously unrelated... :rolleyes:

 

I think it's true that a young dog with a murmur would need a lot more surveillance and possibly earlier start of meds to stave off problems and prevent worsening of any associated conditions. Good luck to your friend and her dog, Candy!

 

Amy

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Thanks guys ... any little bit helps :@)

 

I guess the vet also said she also has thinning of the wall of the heart? We are assuming it's congenital - not sure if it really matters at this point ... the why. Just working on what she can do to minimize the damage and try and give her the best life she can (and are planning on working her lightly).

 

Thanks again.

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At the age of 13, my Sabre was diagnosed with "mitral valve disease"--same thing? Anyway, at that time, an ultrasound (or was it x-ray?) showed that his heart was just slightly enlarged, he was put on Enalipril and some other (expensive) drug to slow the progression. He has now turned 15, and is showing some signs of CHF in the past few months--coughing a bit. But, really, I think other things are progressing more rapidly (he's recently getting quite weak in the hind end), and I think that will do him in quicker than his heart. It's really just in the last year that he has slowed down a lot, again, mostly due to the hind end. But he still likes to go out with the neighbor boy to put the sheep up when I am gone, and likes to trot around the pasture a bit. Then he comes home and sleeps a LOT,

A

ETA: His teeth have always been gorgeous...

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I don't have an exact diagnosis on Willow because with the cost of treatment for her cancer and the cost of the drugs for her heart condition I simply can't afford the ultrasound too (and around here it's extra because many vets have to schedule the traveling US vet to come to their office). So we've been using X-rays to keep track of any changes (enlargment) in her heart. She has a loud (grade 5, IIRC) murmur that was detected before the surgery for her cancer in Jan 2009. They went ahead and anesthetized her (since we couldn't not remove the tumor) and she came through fine. My vet said most conditions that cause murmurs/heart enlargement are treated the same way (which is why I felt okay skipping the US), and he also said that treating sooner afforded greater life extension vs. treating later (which seems contrary to what others have posted). Since the meds were pretty cheap, I just went ahead with treatment. In the months between her first and second X-rays, she had only minimal enlargement. She is on Enalapril, which I get from Walmart (though not quite as cheaply as someone else posted) and Vetmedin. She started out on Enalapril and furosemide, but after a conference my vet said that there's been some concern about long-term use of furosemide (e.g., Lasix) not being as benign as once thought, so he took Willow off the furosemide and put her on Vetmedin ($$$).

 

Willow will be 13 in June and I fully expect her cancer (mast cell) will kill her before her heart does. She also has two bad knees (one was treated with prolo therapy and is stable; the other has not been treated other than with rest--again because of her other, more pressing/serious problems). And yet she's still going strong! She's the queen bee here and still gives everyone else a run for their money (she can keep up with the younger dogs at a flat out run, most of the time). She goes on long walks with us several times a day and has no problems keeping up. In other words, her heart condition hasn't seemed to really bother her at all. She no longer works sheep (not because of her heart), but will still work the chickens some. I don't really restrict her exercise, though if I go jogging, I don't take the older dogs. But she still gets plenty of exercise. I try to keep her thinner (somewhat difficult given the amount of peanut butter she eats in order to get into her the gazillion pills she takes each day), and fit.

 

Willow's teeth are not great, but that's largely because of stuff she's done like plowing her face into the ground going after balls, etc. So she's got missing and broken teeth due to her own lack of concern for her safety, but hasn't had infections, etc.

 

J.

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Now I'm curious as to what the cost is for an ultrasound is in other parts of the country. The vet I take Missy to for her ultrasounds charges $140 and it's generally takes about 45 minutes from the time they start until they're done going over the results with me. It's not cheap, but it is quite doable for me. Reading some of these other posts I'm guessing that I'm getting a pretty good price.

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Now I'm curious as to what the cost is for an ultrasound is in other parts of the country. The vet I take Missy to for her ultrasounds charges $140 and it's generally takes about 45 minutes from the time they start until they're done going over the results with me. It's not cheap, but it is quite doable for me. Reading some of these other posts I'm guessing that I'm getting a pretty good price.

 

The price here in SoCal was around $400 ... but then a lot of times we are a LOT more than other parts of the country.

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My dog was diagnosed with mitral valve disease several years ago. My vet heard a murmur on normal exam & I took her to a cardiologist for exam and diagnosis. She showed no symptoms of heart disease - she was 8 years old and still working. The cardiologist felt her heart disease was fairly severe, but we elected not to put her on any meds at the time & do a further review in 6 months. I went to Cornell & she said it was somewhat controversial whether the early use of meds was helpful in preventing the onset of more severe disease. She felt the most current research at the time showed it was not beneficial.

 

I like the vetriscience products & I put her on the vetriscience cardiac supplement:

http://www.vetriscience.com/cardio-strength.php

The cardiologist advised me to continue to work her - just take a bit of extra caution with heat, exhaustion, etc. Her heart disease never progressed & the vets at Cornell were somewhat surprised. At 12 years, she was still working with no evidence of heart disease. Unfortunately, she developed lymphosarcoma at that time.

 

Not sure if your friend has seen a cardiologist, but I would definitely advise a consult with a cardiologist. A specialist is much more knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with such problems. For example, your initial email stated that mitral valve disease was rare - I do not believe it is rare, as evidenced with the number of people on this board alone that have dealt with the issue.

 

The one thing that would concern me with your friend's dog is that the dog is only 3 years old. The development of heart disease at 9-10-11 years old is not a surprise - at 3 years old, it is a surprise. I have another dog that has a mild heart murmur - diagnosed at 8 years old. I put him on the vetriscience supplement, but will wait to see if it progresses before taking him to a cardiologist.

 

Good Luck to your friend,

Gail

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For example, your initial email stated that mitral valve disease was rare - I do not believe it is rare, as evidenced with the number of people on this board alone that have dealt with the issue.

 

The one thing that would concern me with your friend's dog is that the dog is only 3 years old. The development of heart disease at 9-10-11 years old is not a surprise - at 3 years old, it is a surprise. I have another dog that has a mild heart murmur - diagnosed at 8 years old. I put him on the vetriscience supplement, but will wait to see if it progresses before taking him to a cardiologist.

 

Good Luck to your friend,

Gail

 

I have to admit I'm pretty amazed at how many people posting have had it. I was just looking for info for her never thinking there were THAT many BC's with it :@(

 

Here's the latest from her check-up:

 

I just picked up the report from the vet. In addition to mitral valve regurgitaion the left ventricle wall was thinner than normal. She said it is unclear at this time if the thinness of the ventricle wall is secondary to the mitral valve problem or if she has a condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy. Time will tell which this is.

 

I'm not sure if she's seeing a cardiologist or not ... but "kind of" thinking she is ... I will double check and tell her what you said.

 

Guess you just never know :@(

 

Thanks.

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