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Is my dog at risk?

The age and breed of your dog can increase their risk

Dogs of any breed or age can develop heart disease, but in general, middle aged to older dogs are at a much higher risk of mitral valve disease (MVD) or dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

Puppies can have heart disease too, but it is much less likely to be MVD or DCM. They are usually born with a heart defect which causes the disease, this is known as congenital heart disease. Other causes of heart disease include blood infections and nutritional deficiencies but these are rare.

MVD accounts for 75% of heart disease in dogs

Your dog’s breed can also influence its risk.

Small to medium-sized dogs are more prone to MVD, particularly once they reach middle age. Some are more susceptible than others. For example, about 50% of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels will develop MVD by the time they are 71 and almost 100% will have MVD once they reach 10 years or older2. MVD is also approximately 1.5 times more common in male dogs than in female dogs.

On the other hand, large to giant-sized breeds are more likely to develop DCM. As with MVD, this risk of developing DCM varies depending on the breed of dog. For example, 25 – 50% of Dobermans will develop DCM in their lifetime. Research also shows that male dogs seem to be affected by DCM more often than females.

Learn about the risks of developing heart disease below.

Is your dog at risk of MVD?

SMALL AND MEDIUM BREEDS
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DCM accounts for 10% of heart disease in dogs

Is your dog at risk of DCM?

MEDIUM, LARGE AND GIANT BREEDS
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In summary...

If your dog is at risk, the best thing you can do is make sure your dog has regular health and heart check-ups.

These are the only ways to spot the early signs of heart disease. Detecting heart disease early is vital to slow its progression and prolong your dog’s quality of life.

If you have any concerns about your dog’s risk of developing heart disease, speak to your vet for more information.

  1. Haggstrom J, Hanson K, Kvart C, Swenson L. Chronic valvular disease in the Cavalier King Charles spaniel in Sweden. Vet Rec 1992;131:549–553

  2. Beardow AW, Buchanan JW. Chronic mitral valve disease in Cavalier King Charles spaniels: 95 cases. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1993;203:1023–1029

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