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Kennel Club And Veterinary Cardiovascular Society Announce New Heart Health Scheme For The Cavalier

The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is a petite and very cute little toy dog breed, and one that is hugely popular with dog lovers all over the UK. In fact, the Cavvie is the UK’s 19th most popular dog breed of all, and every year, thousands of prospective puppy buyers consider choosing a Cavalier King Charles spaniel as their next pet.

There are a huge number of good points about the Cavvie breed as a whole, which helps to ensure that they appeal to a wide range of potential owners and are a good fit for many different types of homes – but the breed also has a number of hereditary health challenges that all prospective buyers should be aware of too.

One of the most serious health challenges faced by the Cavalier King Charles spaniel dog breed is a heart condition called mitral valve disease or MVD, and this heart defect is widely spread across a fairly significant number of dogs of the breed in the UK.

Hereditary health conditions of various types can be found across most pedigree dog breeds, and these are of course of great concern to owners, breeders and advocates for the breeds in question, as well as veterinary surgeons, the Kennel Club, and other interested parties too.

The Kennel Club works with veterinary specialists and individual breed-specific organisations to help to improve the health of individual dog breeds and reduce the occurrence rate of hereditary health disorders, and as part of this, the Kennel Club has announced the introduction of a new heart scheme for the Cavalier King Charles spaniel to help to achieve just this.

In this article we will share some information on the new Cavalier King Charles spaniel heart scheme, how it works, and what it is designed to achieve. Read on to learn more.

What is mitral valve disease?

Mitral valve disease is a type of heart condition that develops as a result of a malfunction in the dog’s mitral valve, which separates the left-hand side of the heart into upper and lower halves. This valve is important to enable the blood to flow between the atria and ventricles, and in dogs with a healthy mitral valve, the vale opens to let the blood flow to the ventricles, then closes up again to prevent the blood flowing back out.

However, mitral valve disease causes a type of plaque to accumulate within the mitral valve, which over time, results in deformation of the valve itself which in turn, causes the blood to flow back to the atrium after it has been pumped out, instead of the mitral valve closing up again to prevent this.

Ultimately, this means that the heart doesn’t pump the blood around the body efficiently, causing dilation of the heart and increasing the volume of the blood within it, which often masks symptoms that would otherwise assist with diagnosis.

However, the condition worsens over time and can ultimately lead to congestive heart failure in affected dogs, and the first identifiable symptom of a problem is often a heart murmur.


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Mitral valve disease and the Cavalier King Charles spaniel

Mitral valve disease can develop in any dog breed, and it is not always caused by a known hereditary risk factor. However, many presentations of mitral valve disease in dogs are hereditary, and the Cavalier King Charles spaniel dog breed is one that sees a significant number of dogs inheriting the condition, resulting in a costly health challenge that can ultimately shorten the dog’s lifespan.

In fact, mitral valve disease is largely considered to be the breed’s largest health challenge, and is the most prevalent and widely spread hereditary disorder found within dogs of the breed as a whole.

What is the new Cavalier King Charles spaniel health scheme designed to do?

The new Cavalier King Charles spaniel heart health scheme was announced by the Kennel Club on the 14th May 2019, in conjunction with the Veterinary Cardiovascular Society and Cavalier King Charles spaniel breed club.

The scheme enables Cavalier King Charles spaniel owners to have their own dogs assessed for heart health, which is performed using a system of grades on a sliding scale to let owners know if their dogs are affected by mitral valve disease themselves, and to what extent.

This information lets dog owners know both about their own dog’s heart health and so, gives them a head start in choosing the most appropriate approach to managing the condition, and also, enables breeders to make an informed choice on what parent dogs to breed from to produce a litter with healthy hearts.

The assessment itself is performed by specially trained veterinary cardiologists, who perform a stethoscope examination on the dog to listen for signs of a murmur. The valves of the heart itself are also checked using an echocardiograph scan.

Upon completion of the examination, the dog’s heart health grade is determined, and advice is provided on the appropriate care of affected dogs and the risks involved if they are bred from.

How to get your own Cavalier King Charles spaniel health tested 

To find out more about the Cavalier King Charles spaniel heart health scheme and to get the details about how you can get your own dog assessed and graded, see this information guide from the Kennel Club for more details.


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