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What is Mitral Valve Dysplasia?

The backflow of blood caused by a malformed mitral valve is called mitral regurgitation or mitral insufficiency. The amount of regurgitation may be small or large depending on the severity of the abnormality of the mitral valve. 

MVD is commonly seen in German Shepherds, Great Danes, Bull Terriers, Cavaliers, Poodles, Boston Terrier, Dachshunds, and Mastiffs.  Dogs diagnosed with mitral valve dysplasia should not be bred.

If your dog is having symptoms of mitral valve dysplasia, he should be seen by a veterinarian.  If left untreated, mitral valve dysplasia can be fatal.

Mitral valve dysplasia (MVD) in dogs is the congenital malformation of the heart’s mitral valve.  A normal mitral valve functions as a one-way valve, which flows blood from the left atrium to the left ventricle.  Deformities in the mitral valve cause it not to shut tightly, which results in the backflow of blood into the left atrium.

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Symptoms of Mitral Valve Dysplasia in Dogs

Symptoms will depend on the severity of the mitral valve dysplasia. Patients with mild mitral valve dysplasia may not show any clinical signs for months or even years.

  • Heart murmur found at a wellness check
  • Gagging
  • Hacking cough
  • Lack of stamina
  • Weakness
  • Dyspnea
  • Congestive heart failure (will cause pulmonary edema, abdominal ascites, retention of fluids in the skin and collapse)

Causes of Mitral Valve Dysplasia in Dogs

Mitral valve dysplasia (MVD) is a congenital cardiac condition that causes one or more abnormalities to the mitral valve.   This means that MVD was present at birth. The abnormalities of the mitral valve happened during fetal development. Mitral valve dysplasia is potentially an inherited heart condition.

Diagnosis of Mitral Valve Dysplasia in Dogs

Mitral valve dysplasia is often discovered during a wellness check.  The veterinarian will detect a heart murmur while he is listening to the patient’s heart. A heart murmur is the sound of turbulence within the heart; a whooshing noise during heartbeats.  The murmur is a good indicator that there is a problem with the blood flow within the heart.  

If the veterinarian hears a heart murmur he may recommend diagnostic tests, such as an electrocardiogram (EKG), x-rays and an endocardiogram. These tests can help determine the cause of the irregular sound and the severity of the condition.  The EKG can detect abnormal heart rhythm.  Chest x-rays can visualize the size/shape of the heart and can also reveal the presence of fluids in the lungs.  The endocardiogram uses sound waves to evaluate the cardiac contractions and measures the amount of blood being pumped by the heart.

Other diagnostic tests that may be recommended are a complete blood count, urinalysis and a serum chemistry panel.  These tests can help determine the overall health condition of the patient.

Treatment of Mitral Valve Dysplasia in Dogs

Asymptomatic (no symptoms) patients diagnosed with mitral valve dysplasia usually do not need medical treatment. They do need to have x-rays every 6-12 months to monitor the size of the dog’s heart. Some veterinarians choose to start medical treatment at this stage and will prescribe beta blockers such as carvedilol and/or Bisoprolol.  

Patients with MVD will need to be on low salt diets.  Overweight dogs will have their diets modified in order to decrease caloric intake. Extreme exertion, high humidity and high heat should be avoided. Supplements, and vitamins, which may be suggested, are Vitamin E, Vitamin C, coenzyme CoQ10, and Omega 3.

Patients with more advanced mitral valve dysplasia may also be prescribed angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (enalapril and benazepril) to help lower blood pressure. Diuretics may help stimulate the kidneys to remove excess fluids from the body.  Digitalis may be prescribed to help slow the heart rate and strengthen the heart’s contraction. Vasodilators drugs can help the heart, to have a better blood flow.

The veterinarian may refer you to a veterinarian heart specialist, who may recommend the surgical replacement of the valve. Dogs do not respond well to mechanical valves; blood clots usually occur.  Studies show that canine patients do well with porcine valve (pig valves) replacements. The surgery can only be attempted on young dogs that are strong enough to undergo this procedure. The valve replacement is an open heart surgical procedure. The patient usually will need to remain hospitalized for a week.

Recovery of Mitral Valve Dysplasia in Dogs

Patients that respond to the treatment plan will have an improved quality of life.  The treatment plan will be a lifetime commitment.  Follow-up visits will be needed to monitor the your dog’s progress.  The veterinarian will also be checking for any side effects caused by the prescribed medications.

Patients that underwent mitral valve replacement will receive post-operative instructions from the heart surgeon.  The prognosis of a full recovery of MVD, in canines that undergo surgery is good.

Mitral Valve Dysplasia Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Bernie
Dachshund
2 Years
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Exercise Intolerence

My dog was just diagnosed with mitral valve dysplasia. Moderate mitral regurgitation with minimal left atrial enlargement. Subvalvular aprtic stenosis, Sever. Severe concentric LV hypertrophy. Grade IV heart murmur. He is on Atenonol for life now, what’s the life expectancy for dogs like this? He has anxiety and stresses himself out a lot. So we have to work on making him comfortable and not stressing his heart out too much.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Life expectancy varies widely and may be as little as a year or much longer; it is really case dependent, even your Veterinarian wouldn’t be able to give a clear answer as the ballpark is too wide. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Bailey
Chiweenie
11 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

intermittent gaging type cough,

my 11 year old, 8.2 lb chi-weenie has mitral valve disease 4-5/6 murmur. Her heart is mildly enlarged. Is anyone doing tranvenous valve replacements? open heart is so very difficult and not sure if she would be a candidate nor what her long term prognosis would be

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
That would be a great question for a board certified cardiologist, as they would be the ones to discuss risks and benefits of any possible surgical repairs for her heart. If you have not seen a cardiologist, your veterinarian can refer you to one in your area. I hope that all goes well for Bailey.

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Cannon
Australian Shepherd
9 Months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

GradeIII/IV Basilar Murmur

My Australian Shepherd who is jus about 9 months old was just diagnosed with mitral valve dysplasia after going to his vet for a wellness visit. The vet did an Echocardiogram which discovered the "very mild mitral valve regurgitation". He is set to go in for another Echo in 12 months, but what does this mean for him considering he is so young. How long does he have until this progresses into heart failure? What can I do to prevent an early death? What is his life expectancy? He is in excellent health besides this and very active, eats Acana brand food, and regularly takes heartgard and nexgard.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
If Cannon is asymptomatic, he may remain asymptomatic for years; it is just a case of being mindful of his condition and having regular checks to keep an eye on any progression or worsening of the condition. A "very mild mitral valve regurgitation" is vague at best and I cannot give you any indication of a prognosis based on that; many dogs live perfectly normal lives only to have this condition diagnosed at an older age, it is really a case by case basis. www.msdvetmanual.com/circulatory-system/congenital-and-inherited-anomalies-of-the-cardiovascular-system/mitral-valve-dysplasia

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Carly
Golden Retreiver
16 months
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

We are in the process of adopting a golden retriever that was disqualified as a service dog breeder with the following statement. "Mild mitral and tricuspid valve dysplasia- The defect allows a very small amount of leakage backward through the valve. The degree of disease is minimal, however, and is unlikely to progress or cause any difficulties in the future.
We still intend to keep her, is this a situation we should be concerned about? What should we expect/plan for once the adoption is final

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Mild cases with dogs which are asymptomatic should live normal lives, you should just keep an eye on her as she gets older to look out for symptoms of congestive heart failure. These small anomalies are normally not clinically relevant but would be something that they would want to keep out of the breeding pool. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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