Mitral valve disease (MVD) is thought to be responsible for more than 40% of cavalier King Charles spaniel (CKCS) deaths in the UK. The UK Veterinary Cardiovascular Society (VCS) wants to adapt a pioneering echo-based scheme from Denmark to test for MVD and, in close association with The KC and breed clubs, roll out a possible “traffic light“ system to identify the degree of MVD in cavaliers and only breed from the fittest. This Danish scheme has shown a 73% reduction in risk of having mitral murmurs for dogs whose parents were on the breeding scheme, but not for dogs whose parents were not part of the scheme.
Kieran Borgeat of Langford Vets, a recognised specialist in veterinary cardiology and member of the VCS committee, said he was excited because, compared to other breed screening schemes, the Danish method was one of the only veterinary screening programmes ever to have been validated by scientific evidence over a 10-year period.
“Test for mitral valve disease in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels to be adapted for UK dogs“
Dr Borgeat went on to say: “This could mark a huge benefit to cavaliers in the UK over the next decade. The Danish scheme is a method for looking for MVD in the very early stages, using a combination of auscultation with a stethoscope and echo measurements. Dogs that have a loud heart murmur are considered to have MVD. Those with quiet heart murmurs, or no murmurs, undergo an echo and the degree of their valve prolapse is measured and graded. The ones with very mild prolapse may be allowed to breed, but the ones with moderate to severe prolapse tend to be excluded [from breeding] in the Danish scheme.”