Mitral Valve Disease
Mitral Valve Disease is an inherited condition but at present, the mode of inheritance is unknown. MVD can be a normal part of the ageing process in both humans and animals. However a percentage of Cavaliers will develop this condition at an earlier age than would be considered acceptable, developing heart murmurs as the valve works less efficiently to pump blood around the heart.
Some dogs develop a low grade murmur in middle age which may never progress. Others may develop a murmur later in life and still go on to live an average lifespan of around 12 years. In a small percentage of Cavaliers, the heart condition will shorten their lifespan.
The condition is tested by listening with a stethoscope and the murmur graded on a scale from I to 6. It is also possible to use ultrasound to diagnose the extent of the problem. Caring breeders test their dogs regularly and try to use dogs with long lived ancestors.
Drug therapies are available which can help maintain a good quality of life well into old age, even in dogs with significant heart murmurs.
The Cavalier Club of NSW arranges regular heart clinics for breeders to have their dogs tested by veterinary cardiologist specialists who issue certificates with results of the examination noted.