|Home||Pepsi's Story||Max's Story||Pepsi Pics||Max Pics||Puppy Pics||Puppies Story||Cavalier info|
|Baby's Story||Baby's Pics||Caique info||Information||Awards won||Award Apply||Award Winners||Gifts|
|Family Album||Fun Stuff||Baywood Buddies||All Together!||Celebrity Cavs||About Baywood||Aase Creations||Critters|
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Health Issues
Good dog health is important to all dog owners.
All pet owners want to ensure their dog has a happy and disease-free life. Dog health problems are either hereditary/congenital or acquired through injury or environmental conditions.
This page is about inherited dog diseases in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. The breed suffers from a number of severe genetic defects.
Luxating Patella (Patellar Luxation)
Symptoms & Diagnosis
Our lil girl Pepsi has just undergone surgery to repair a luxating patella you can see X-Rays before surgery Here and see Pepsi post-op Here aswell as checking Pepsi's latest news on our news section on the front page Here
The Cavalier as a breed suffers from a recurring hereditary condition which causes luxating patellas. The disorder is believed to affect 20% to 30% of Cavalier King Charles spaniels. The patella is the knee cap of the Cavalier King Charles spaniel. It should be located in its groove in the center of the stifle (knee joint) of the femur (upper leg bone). A luxating patella is a knee cap that moves out of its groove.
Genetic conditions which cause patellar luxation are a shallow groove, weak ligaments, and misalignment of the muscles and ligaments between the femur, patella, and tibia (lower leg bone).
If the condition is not corrected, it will degenerate: the patella's ridges will wear, its groove will become shallower, and the Cavalier will become progressively more lame. Arthritis will prematurely affect the joint, causing a permanently swollen knee with poor mobility.
Veterinarians can check for patellar luxation by manipulating it. The dog is examined awake and the veterinarian classifies its degree of luxation. Adult Cavaliers should be evaluated annually, and puppies should be examined at 6-8 weeks of age prior to their release to the new owners.
There are four grades of severity of patellar luxation, and they usually progress
The patella is nearly normal and can be only dislocated if the stifle (knee joint) is expanded and digital pressure is applied.
The patella can be dislocated in extension and remains out of place when the stifle is flexed (Cavaliers with this condition may suffer from joint cartilage and secondary osteoarthritis due to the patella constantly dislocating). Luxation occurs when there is occasional spontaneous lameness, but the patella returns to normal positioning easily, and the dog usually does not indicate pain. This dog typically occasionally carries a rear leg for two or three steps but then puts it back down as if nothing was wrong.
The patella is dislocated most of the time; it can be manually repositioned, but it slips out easily again (Cavaliers with this degree can also be a high risk for rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee joint). Luxation is to the extent that the dog begins to have a loss of function. It has more frequent "skipping" episodes and may not want to jump up; it may have pain, and the patella does not always return to normal positioning when it is pushed out of its groove during a physical exam.
The patella is dislocated all of the time. The dog's legs are painful enough that it tries not to use them, when the leg can not be fully straightened manually, and the dog shows evidence of chronic pain or disability, including poor or no ability to jump up.
Veterinary orthopedic surgery usually is required to correct the condition, especially if Grade 3 or 4. The groove may be surgically deepened to better contain the patella. The patella itself may be tied down laterally (on its outside), to prevent it from deviating medially (toward the inside). The bony protuberance at the point the quadriceps tendon attaches to the tibia may be cut off and then re-attached in a more lateral position.
The Canine Inherited Disorders Database (www.upei.ca/~cidd/intro.htm) recommends that any dogs with patellar luxation not be bred, nor should their parents or littermates. Because of the strong hereditary relationship, all Cavalier King Charles spaniel breeding stock should be examined by qualified veterinarians at least annually and cleared for patellar luxation, the closer the examination to the breeding the better.
Mitral valve disease
Heart mitral valve disease (MVD) is the leading cause of death of Cavaliers throughout the world.
It is a polygenetic disease which afflicts over half of all Cavalier King Charles spaniels by age 5 years and nearly all Cavaliers by age 10 years, should they survive that long.
What It Is
MVD is a degeneration of the heart's mitral valve, one of four sets of valves in a dog's heart.
As the mitral valve degenerates, the valve no longer fully closes after each pumping action, allowing some blood to flow backwards through them from the ventricle back into the atrium.
As the condition worsens, more and more blood is able to backflow through the valve. In the final stages, the valve’s struts sometimes break, causing the valve to collapse completely. MVD results in congestive heart failure in the CKCS.
Mitral valve disease is the most common heart disorder in older dogs of all breeds, affecting more than a third of all dogs over 10 years of age.
However, in the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, the prevalence of MVD is about 21 times that in the typical canine. Also in Cavaliers, the onset of the disease typically is much earlier in the life of the dog. It has been reported that, once diagnosed, mitral valve disease is much more rapid in Cavaliers than in other breeds, possibly reaching a life-threatening stage within as little as 1 to 3 years, rather than the average 3 to 5 years. More...
All Cavaliers should be screened by board certified veterinary cardiologists for heart murmurs once a year beginning at age 1 year.
Once MVD is detected, its progression can be monitored with stethoscopic examinations (auscultations), x-rays, echocardiograms, and color Doppler echocardiograms.
If a heart murmur is detected, it should be confirmed in 3 to 6 months. If it still is detected, the dog is considered probable for MVD. More...
Symptoms & Treatment
The progression of mitral valve disease can be rapid or slow. In most Cavaliers, the disease shows a gradual progression in the loudness of the murmur and to more serious symptoms, in as little as 2 years after first detecting the murmur.
Drugs may help to minimize the symptoms, but eventually the drugs may be unable to control them.
The drugs prescribed for Cavaliers with MVD usually have severely adverse side effects upon the kidneys, liver, and other internal organs.
Severe symptoms of MVD in some Cavaliers will appear more quickly, although previously having been stable. The ultimate consequence of the disease is heart failure. More...
Due to the pervasiveness of MVD in the breed worldwide, Cavalier King Charles spaniels under the age of five years should not be bred (with one limited exception -- see MVD Breeding Protocol). Also, no Cavalier should be bred after age five years if it developed an MVD murmur before the age of five years.
Any littermates of breeding stock having early-onset MVD (mitral valve murmurs before age 5 years) should be taken into very serious consideration.
All CKCS breeding stock should be examined by board certified veterinary cardiologists at least annually and cleared by the veterinary specialists for MVD, the closer the examination to the breeding the better.
It is recommended that all Cavaliers, breeding stock or not, be examined annually by board certified veterinary cardiologists after age one year.
Syringomyelia (SM) is a condition affecting the brain and spine, causing symptoms ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain and partial paralysis. Syringomyelia is rare in most breeds but has become widespread in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Veterinary neurologists who have been researching the disease in Cavaliers have estimated that at least half of all Cavaliers have either syringomyelia or occipital hypoplasia, the skull bone malformation believed to cause SM. Although symptoms of syringomyelia can present at any age, they typically appear between 6 months and 3 years of age.
Symptoms include sensitivity around the head, neck, or shoulders, often indicated by a dog whimpering or frequently scratching at the area of his neck or shoulder.
Scratching is often unilateral -- restricted to one side of the body. Scratching motions are frequently performed without actually making physical contact with the body.
The scratching behavior appears involuntary and the dog frequently scratches while walking -- without stopping -- in a way that is very atypical of normal scratching.
Scratching typical of SM is usually worse when the dog is wearing a collar, is being walked on leash, or is excited. Not all dogs with SM show scratching behavior.
Not all dogs who show scratching behavior appear to suffer pain. If onset is at an early age, the first sign may be rapidly appearing scoliosis. If the problem is severe, there is likely to be poor proprioception (awareness of body position), especially with regard to the forelimbs.
Clumsiness and falling results from this problem. A vet should be asked to rule out primary secretory otitis media (PSOM - glue ear) before assuming that a Cavalier has SM. PSOM can present similar symptoms but is much easier and cheaper to treat. An MRI scan is normally done to confirm diagnosis of SM.
More detailed information can be found at http://cavalierhealth.org/syringomyelia.htm
Episodic Falling Syndrome (EFS)
Episodic Falling Syndrome is an "exercise-induced paroxysmal hypertonicity disorder" meaning that there is increased muscle tone in the dog and the muscles are unable to relax.
Although it is often misdiagnosed as epilepsy, the dog remains conscious throughout the episode.
Severity of symptoms can range from mild, occasional falling or freezing to seizure-like episodes lasting hours.
Episodes can become more or less severe as the dog gets older. Onset of symptoms is usually before five months but may be noticed only later in life.
More detailed information can be found at http://cavalierhealth.org/episodic_falling.htm
Hip Dysplasia (HD) is a common, heritable disease in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels which can cause the dogs terrible pain and debilitation.
HD is the abnormal development of the hip, which can produce various degrees of arthritis (which also may be called degenerative joint disease, arthrosis, or osteoarthrosis).
It is not predictable as to when or even if a dog with HD will start showing signs of lameness due to pain.
There are many environmental factors, including caloric intake and the level of exercise, which can affect the severity of pain and lameness.
Many dysplastic dogs with severe HD can run, jump, and play as if nothing is wrong, and other dogs with barely any HD x-ray indications are severely lame. More detailed information at http://cavalierhealth.org/hipdysplasia.htm
Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (Dry eye)
Another common defect among Cavaliers is keratoconjunctivitis sicca, colloquially known as "dry eye".
The usual cause of this condition is an autoimmune reaction against the dog's lacrimal gland (tear gland), reducing the production of tears.
The condition requires continual treatment and if untreated may result in partial or total blindness.
More detailed information http://cavalierhealth.org/dry_eye.htm
For a Vast indepth range of Cavalier King Charles Health information Visit - http://cavalierhealth.org/
This site is a MUST SEE for ALL Cavalier owners or people considering buying a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Need help or advise or just want to chat about your pet?
join our new forum Pet Antics Forum