Dear Diary,

It seems like its such along time since my best buddy Angel passed away after being diagnosed with Chronic Valvular Disease October 1999. Angel had just been given a clean bill of health from our Veterinarian six months prior to her diagnosis. She was 9-1/2 years old when she went to Rainbow Bridge on January 31, 2000, a very short three months later.

I could sense that our remaining time would be limited, so immediately I began to do everything in my power to come to Angel's rescue. I began to lay very close to Angel every chance I could. Sometimes I would catch mom's eye looking at me with a smile in her heart. She knew that I was doing what a cat had to do. I followed Angel everywhere to watch over her.

During that time Mommy spent alot of time at the vets' offices. She met many canines and their owners, who had been diagnosed with the same illness. Some had been on medicines for many years, and doing very well.

What was different about Angel? We don't know. But oddly enough, the same month Angel was diagnosed, her canine mother had passed away from the same exact illness. Her mother Cinder, was 13 years old.


We hope this information will help
someone in another place and time.

There are two types of heart disease:
congenital and aqcuired.

Congenital heart disease is present
at birth and is rare.

Acquired heart disease develops over time,
usually beginning during middle-age and
affecting many older dogs.

Then there are two types of the
acquired heart disease.

Chronic Valvular Disease (CVD), and

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

CVD is the most prevalent, and is also known by other names such as,
mitral regurgitation,
mitral valve disease, and
valvular insufficiency.

CVD causes the heart valves to gradually lose the ability to close effectively.

DCM causes the muscular walls of the heart to become thin and weak, and the chambers to dilate.

Both of these diseases cause the same serious condition which is called heart failure. A condition that occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body's needs.

When the heart is not pumping effectively, blood may back up in the heart, lungs, or other organs. Blood vessels constrict and blood pressure increases.

Heart disease can develope in any breed of dog. However, there are some breeds that are more susceptible to CVD such as:
Cocker Spaniels,
Chihuahuas, and
Lhasa Apsos

Larger breeds are more prone to DCM, such as
English Cocker Spaniels,
Great Danes, and

Early stages of heart failure are hard to detect A decrease in activity or coughing during periods of exercise or excitation are both early signs of heart failure, but owners may consider these normal signs of aging. It is difficult to tell wihout a thorough examination.

As heart failure progresses, these early signs become more severe. Also, your dog may develop other signs such as:
Lack of energy
Irregular and rapid breathing
Abdominal swelling
Lack of appetite
Weight loss

Accroding to Dr. John Goodwin, DVM, Director of the Veterinary Heart Institute in Gainesville, Florida, referring to CVD, there is no real explanation as to what causes this form of heart failure in dogs. He did state however, that they noticed when teeth were not regularly cleaned it appeared to be a contributory factor.

There is no cure for heart failure, but new treatments are helping dogs enjoy longer life with better quality.

Successful treatment will depend upon some factors such as:
Severity and progression of the disease
Presence of other illnesses
Age of your dog

It goes without saying that regular examinations by your veterinarian are very important for early detection and management of heart disease and any other illness your pet could possibly have.

FOOTNOTE FROM KRYSTAL: Mom's credentials for passing on this information is solely limited to having a pet with CVD. If you suspect in any way that your pet may have heart disease, you MUST contact your veterinarian. And the sooner, the better.

For additional information,
check this link, especially if you live in Florida.

Veterinary Heart Institute