Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - GARDENING AND PETS - BY CRAIG REILLY


Our Cava­lier King Charles Spaniel is only seven years old, but she has gone into heart fail­ure with a leaky valve, I think the vet said a mi­tral valve?

I know peo­ple can get this valve re­placed. Is there any­where I can get her valve fixed? Sally, Belfast


Sorry to hear that Sally, but please don’t de­spair. Vet­eri­nary medicine has ad­vanced hugely over the last num­ber of years and treat­ment of con­ges­tive heart fail­ure has been rev­o­lu­tionised with new drugs such as pi­moben­dan, and new ap­pli­ca­tions of old drugs such as spirono­lac­tone.

Sadly, how­ever, all at­tempts to date to re­place valves have failed. We are strug­gling to stop re­jec­tion of the im­planted valves, al­though a hand­ful of dogs have sur­vived a few months af­ter the surgery, so it is cur­rently not a rec­om­mended pro­ce­dure.

The good news though is that us­ing the newer med­i­ca­tions, it is my ex­pe­ri­ence that dogs live a far bet­ter qual­ity of life than they were able to with older ther­a­pies. The most re­cent trial data also sug­gests that they live a lot longer too.

So do keep in reg­u­lar con­tact with your vet. There is no sub­sti­tute for care­ful pro­fes­sional on­go­ing fine-tun­ing of ther­apy in these cases to max­imise life­span and qual­ity of life.

I know it isn’t of im­me­di­ate in­ter­est to you, but to others who own small-breed dogs prone to valve leaks, there is new ev­i­dence that we can put off heart fail­ure by up to two years.

We now ad­vo­cate get­ting hearts checked ev­ery year — if a mur­mur de­vel­ops and the heart starts to en­large, we can pre­scribe drugs to lengthen dis­ease-free life. How amaz­ing!

I am so pleased to be work­ing in a pro­fes­sion which is see­ing such ad­vances in care for those we hold dear.

I wish you well with your wee dog and am sure your vet can help dra­mat­i­cally, and im­prove her qual­ity of life. Good luck.

Craig is a part­ner in Cedar­mount Vet­eri­nary Clinic, Bangor (cedar­ Send your pet queries to­ Craig can only re­spond to ques­tions through this col­umn, and these an­swers can­not sub­sti­tute for treat­ment de­ci­sions based on a full his­tory and clin­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion by your vet.

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