Mitral valve disease is a pressing condition for dogs that can cause additional issues for your pup. Today, our Bonita Springs vets explain the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for mitral valve disease in dogs.
Mitral Valve Disease In Dogs
Mitral valve disease in dogs is a very common condition of the heart, typically affecting older dogs. This disease can cause blood to leak from the heart muscle during contractions and can lead to additional issues in your pup.
The heart has 4 valves, and the mitral valve, which separates the left ventricle from the left atrium. In healthy dogs, this valve shuts when the heart contracts, preventing blood from 'backing up' or regurgitating back into the atrium.
A leaky mitral valve can cause a cascade of other issues, including an enlarged atrium, fluid buildup in the lungs, and damage to the structures of the heart.
This is a common disease that impacts dogs after about 8 years old typically. Small breeds of dogs are more prone to this condition, including Chihuahua, Miniature Schnauzers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Shih Tzus, Dachshunds, Whippets, Cocker Spaniels, as well as some larger breeds and mixed breeds of dogs.
Here at Southwest Florida Veterinary Specialists, we can provide excellent care for dogs suffering from mitral valve disease due to our experience with veterinary cardiology.
Symptoms Of Mitral Valve Disease In Dogs
Dogs may show no signs in the early stages of the disease, or show subtle signs that may make their owner believe their pet is just slowing down due to old age. Some common signs to keep an eye out for may include:
- Trouble breathing
- Intolerance for exercise intolerance
- Increased respiratory rate
Diagnosing Mitral Valve Disease In Dogs
Only your veterinarian will be able to correctly diagnose your dog. When you take your dog in, the vet will begin by conducting a thorough physical examination of your pet. This gives your veterinarian a chance to detect the presence of a heart murmur long before other, more serious symptoms develop. Your vet is also likely to recommend several other diagnostic tests, including:
- Radiography - X-rays can give us more information about your dog's internal condition, including the presence of any fluid in the lungs
- Echocardiography - This diagnostic tool is a way to better understand the structure and function of the valves and heart
- NT-proBNP - This blood test can show indications of advanced heart failure, especially if there is a large amount of 'regurgitated' blood
Your dog may also need further testing to check the functioning of their other internal systems, and to clear them for medications needed to treat their condition.
Treating Mitral Valve Disease In Dogs
There are a large number of drugs that can be used to address mitral valve disease in your pooch, meaning that it's critical for the type and dosage of medications must be carefully calculated for each unique case.
As this disease is progressive, there are different medications used at different points during your dog's condition. Some of the most commonly used drugs for treating this disease in canines can include:
- Positive inotropes (e.g. pimobendan, digoxin)
- Diuretics (e.g. furosemide)
- Vasodilators (e.g. enalapril, benazapril, pimobendan)
Depending on your dog's case, they may be prescribed other drugs to deal with health issues like high pressure in the vessels of the lungs
Sadly, there is no known cure for the disease at this time, and the medications are palliative in nature to ensure your dog's comfort and extend their life as much as possible.
Prognosis for Dogs With Mitral Valve Disease
Your dog's prognosis will depend on how far their disease has advanced by the time it is diagnosed. If caught early, many dogs can live for many more years, while others with symptoms could only survive a few months. Having your dog diagnosed by a veterinarian can determine the presence of the disease as well as the stage, so that appropriate treatment can begin.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.