Mitral Valve Disease (MVD)Endocardiosis
of the canine mitral valve is a chronic degenerative disease of the
valve between the left atrium and the left ventricle of the heart. This
condition is more commonly referred to as Mitral Valve Disease,
or MVD. Deposition of mucopolysaccharide in the valve and its
attached cords causes the valve to become distorted, allowing blood to
leak back into the atrium during contraction of the ventricle. Most of
the time, the mitral valve is the only valve affected by endocardiosis,
but in approximately one-third of the affected dogs, the tricuspid valve
(between the right atrium and right ventricle) will be affected as well.
Diagnosis is most
typically made by auscultation. The murmur of MVD is typically
heard best at the left fifth intercostal (between-the-rib) space.
Murmurs are generally rated as grade one (I) through grade six (VI),
depending on the loudness of the murmur. As the disease progresses, the
murmur typically becomes louder. In a very young dog with a very soft
murmur, further studies may be necessary to determine the source of the
All murmurs are not
indicative of MVD; innocent flow murmurs sometimes appear
in young, healthy dogs. A Doppler study will document regurgitation into
the left atrium, and may be recommended in a young-breeding animal with
a murmur. Doppler studies are also being used in some areas, since
regurgitation of blood will most likely be seen on Doppler before it is
heard as a murmur.
The veterinary and genetic communities agree that there is a
basis for MVD, and therefore the key to decreasing the
incidence of MVD lies in selective breeding. To this end, a
yearly heart examination is recommended, carried out by a board
certified canine cardiologist.
MVD is not only
inherent to Cavaliers bred in the USA. Studies have been ongoing in other
countries including Great Britain and Canada. Statistics show that this is
a health problem which can affect Cavaliers everywhere. Importing your Cavalier
from another country does not necessarily mean, you are getting a healthier
or better dog. It could be quite the opposite.
If a breeder tells you
that their lines are free of MVD or other genetic diseases or that
these problems only show up in dogs from other countries, I suggest you walk
away from him or her. He/she is not being truthful with you. Any breeder who
is honest and has bred for any length of time will tell you that problems
can and do arise even with the best breeders. Trust the ones who are honest
with you and will tell you how they work within their breeding program to
eliminate these problems. These breeders constantly test, reassess, study,
show and learn as much as they can about their dogs and the breed. Also, they
can prove to you their testing by showing you the test results. They will
honestly talk about the problems in their lines.
Selecting a breeder
Pick a breeder who will
give you a health warranty in writing, as ‘backyard ‘ breeders will rarely,
if ever, give any form of guarantee, whether verbally or in writing. A health
guarantee does not prevent your puppy from possibly ending up with a health
problem, but a health guarantee shows that the breeder is prepared to stand
behind the health of his/her puppies and dogs, and will – should the need
arise – help the buyer of his/her puppies in any way he/she can.
Finding a good breeder
and your new Cavalier is a time consuming process. It requires patience. Good
breeders usually have a waiting list. They cannot produce a puppy for you
within two or three days. Sometimes it may take months or even a year to find
the right puppy. Remember, this puppy will become a member of your family
possibly as long as 15 years. There are plenty of unethical breeders – or
puppy mills, pet shops or brokers and importers - out there that will be only
too happy to take advantage of people who are looking for a puppy "right
When you have found, what
you determined to be a ‘good breeder’ go and visit the breeder, if at all
possible. Look at the dogs, the puppies, the way in which they are housed,
how they are kept. If you are not allowed to see all the dogs, find out why.
It is quite responsible of a breeder not to allow anyone to see one week old
puppies, but be wary, if you cannot
see 6 week old puppies, their mother, or specific dogs which the breeder keeps.
The father of the puppies may not live with the breeder, but with a different
owner, so it is possible that you cannot always see the stud dog.
Take your time, look at
the puppies, you came to see, possibly to chose from, see their interaction
with each other, with the humans around them, with you as a stranger, and
try to evaluate which puppy’s personality you like the most. If that puppy
is for sale, place a deposit on the puppy, if it is not old enough to leave
Here is some information
for you, in case you are looking on the Internet and in the papers for your
Looking for a reputable
breeder is a MUST, because there are many people, representing themselves
as 'breeders'. However, when you check, and ask pertinent questions, or
for copies of contracts, warranties, and information about health issues,
their answers can tell you who is to be considered ethical and reputable
and who is not.
number of people sell puppies, but have no knowledge about the dogs and
the breed, buy the puppies only for re-sale, or are so-called backyard 'breeders',
with nowadays most of them advertising on the Internet as 'breeders' on
different sites - some of them even going so far as to say their dogs and
puppies are "FIC registered" - not to be confused with the reputable
European registry, the FCI.
The FIC is not a register, which most reputable breeders deem desirable,
as FIC appears to register mutts as well as experimental 'breeds'.
New registries are cropping up every day. Be very cautious of people using
the FIC, Continental Kennel Club (CKC), APR, American Dog Registry, Worldwide
Kennel Club, Krystle Kennel Club, and Dog Registry of America. Often these
people have lost CKCSC and/or AKC privileges or may be breeding a dog that
was sold on limited AKC or CKCSC papers, which means without breeding rights.
Most reputable breeders
are members of the American Shih Tzu Club, the American Cavalier King Charles
Spaniel Club, The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club USA, Inc. and at least
one or more national breed clubs.
Pedigrees can tell you a lot about a dog and his/her breeder or where
it came from. When reviewing pedigrees on ancestors of the puppy you consider
buying, beware of any names, which do not include a kennel name (prefix
before the actual name of the dog - in my case 'AnGa's Star' for
my Shih Tzu's or 'Eulenburg' for my Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
Names like "Prince
Topper" or "Hailey's Charm" should be a red flag that these
dogs are usually from puppy mills/puppy farms. You can check on most breeders
of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, if the puppy you consider buying is NOT
CKCSC ('Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, USA, Inc.') registered,
with the CKCS Club and see if the breeder has been expelled for Code of
Also, in the daily newspapers are usually ads from brokers/ importers/ dealers
and mills, which you should be aware of.
Please, DO NOT DEAL WITH SOMEONE advertising "USDA REGISTERED".
These are commercial breeding farms in the U.S., commonly referred to as
puppy mills - see also the link 'puppy mills part 2'.
Please make sure NOT to purchase your new pet from a broker, importer, dealer
or backyard breeder - not to mention pet shops - as you will have no real
guarantee of health, in particular on genetic health issues, or no knowledge
of the parents having been health tested (for example, that the parents
of your new CKCS puppy are 'Mitral Valve Disease' tested and found
to be free). Ultimately, purchasing from anyone else than a reputable breeder,
you will add to the misery of the dogs being kept in cages all their lives
and used as 'breeding machines'.
All of the above mentioned clubs have websites, which you can access in
order to find a responsible, reputable and ethical breeder. If you like
information on what is considered a 'puppy mill' please go to the following
link www.nopuppymills.com which
gives detailed accounts as to what sort of places you would help to keep
all the questions you can think of, but be prepared to answer a lot of questions
from the breeder. He/she is trying to evaluate if YOU are the right person
for one of his/her ‘kids’ and he/she has the obligation to place the life,
which was created through her breeding, in the best possible home. Bear
this in mind, if you get asked questions, which you may think are too firstname.lastname@example.org
A Pet For Christmas?
You may want to think twice before giving your friend
or family a puppy over
the holidays. While holiday cards are filled with images of irresistible
puppies poking their heads out of stockings, the reality of introducing
puppy to your household over the holidays can be quite different.
A puppy is not a stuffed toy. It will not take kindly
to being ignored once
a newer, brighter toy is discovered. Puppies need attention, discipline
lifetime supply of love and care. Over excited children may scare
a puppy or
worse, neglect it, especially after it chews up their holiday toys
or has an
accident on the rug.
Finally, please keep in mind: A dog is for life -
not just for Christmas!
Cute puppies soon become full-size dogs. Remember, an impulse gift
holidays can last for 10 years or more. A dog will need training,
shelter, medical care and exercise.
If you want to give someone a puppy, don't have it
be a surprise. Consider
a gift that will help someone choose the right dog for his or her
The American Kennel Club publishes "The Complete Dog Book"
and "The Complete
Dog Book for Kids". Both make great gifts (and are easier to
wrap than a
wiggly puppy!) You can also get detailed information and photos
different breeds of dogs by visiting the AKC website (http://www.akc.org
It's always best to allow the actual owners to pick
out their own puppies.
The person taking care of the dog for years to come needs to carefully
consider the adult dog's size, disposition, appetite and grooming
Attending local dog shows and finding and talking
with reputable breeders
will help decide what breed is best for you. The AKC publishes several
brochures on being a responsible dog owner. All are available through
AKC website - www.akc.org.
Finally, please keep in mind: A dog is for life - not just for
Ornaments are very shiny and often attractive to your pets. Keep
your pets away from them but if there is a mishap with glass ornaments
or lights here is a method to aid your pet:
BEFORE the holiday go to a pharmacy and buy a box of cotton balls.
Be sure that you get COTTON balls...not the cosmetic puffs that
are made from man-made fibers. Also, buy a quart of half-and-half
coffee cream and put it in the freezer.
Should your dog eat glass ornaments. Defrost the half-and-half
and pour some in a bowl. Dip cotton balls into the cream and feed
them to your dog.
Dogs under 10 lbs should eat 2 balls which you have first torn
into smaller pieces. Dogs 10-50 lbs should eat 3-5 balls and larger
dogs should eat 5-7. You may feed larger dogs an entire cotton ball
at once. Dogs seem to really like these strange treats and eat them
As the cotton works its way through the digestive tract it will
find all the glass pieces and wrap itself around them. Even the
teeniest shards of glass will be caught and wrapped in the cotton
fibers and the cotton will protect the intestines from damage by
the glass. Your dog's stools will be really weird for a few days
and you will have to be careful to check for fresh blood or a tarry
appearance to the stool. If either of the latter symptoms appear
you should rush your dog to the vet for a checkup but, in most cases,
the dogs will be just fine.