Mitral Valve disease is the most common type of heart disease in small dogs and is especially common in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Toy and Miniature Poodle, Maltese Terrier and Chihuahua.
The valves in a normal heart close tightly to only allow blood to flow in one direction. Diseased valves will leak, allowing blood to flow backwards or regurgitate, which may be heard as a heart murmur. Leaky valves change the blood flow dynamics and internal blood pressure in the heart, often causing it to enlarge, which is seen on Xray.
Because the leaky heart valve allows blood to flow backwards, the pumping of the heart becomes less efficient and over time will lead to congestive heart failure. This may take a few months, or it may take several years.
Initially the dog attempts to cope by retaining fluid to increase blood volume. This fluid can gather in the lungs, causing decreased oxygen transfer and a cough.
Patients are often prescribed diuretics (eg frusemide) to reabsorb this fluid, and may be prescribed other medications such as Vetmedin or Fortekor to improve quality of life and extend survival times. Some patients require fluid to be drained, or may require oxygen therapy.
Monitoring your pet for a persistent cough or an increased resting respiratory rate at home is the best way to monitor their heart health in between their regular veterinary check ups.
At Keysborough Veterinary Practice, Dr Chris Boemo has extensive experience with orthopaedic procedures. He is frequently called upon to fix a fracture or stabilise a cruciate ligament. Here are just a few of our more recent xrays from a few challenging cases.
Dr Chris Boemo treats a significant number of racing greyhounds for otherwise career ending hock fractures, and with this experience with hock injuries sometimes means he is called upon to treat much smaller patients.
The large hock in his image belongs to a 30kg racing greyhound, with 2.6mm and 4.0mm diameter screws in place. The small hock belongs to a 2.5kg chihuahua, with a 1.6mm pin in place. There is a vast difference in the size and strength of the bones in these two patients, yet both have been repaired by Dr Boemo.
This dramatic fracture in a large dog has been reduced stabilised with three pins and a splint. A fracture such as this would not have healed without surgery, as the ends of he fracture are too far apart. The dog is walking well at this time.
In large breed dogs,knee instability secondary to a torn anterior cruciate ligament can be addressed by altering the angle the top of the tibia forms with the shaft of the tibia. Lowering this angle means that the knee is stable as the dog weight bears on the leg…think about it as the difference between a cart on a slope and a cart on level ground…. the cart on the slope wants to roll down the hill, the cart on level ground is motionless!.