Monday, November 19, 2007


Toby is officially a heart patient.

Two years ago, he was diagnosed with a grade 1 (mildest) heart murmur. Today, the vet heard the murmur more distinctly and did the X-rays we were planning on doing when he had his teeth cleaned.

His left atrium is enlarged. He'll be on medication for the rest of his life. This is the medication we're starting with. In a couple of months, the vet will do another check of his kidneys (the first organ after the heart to "go" in this situation), and we'll see if we need to modify anything. Thankfully, the medication is one of the $4 prescriptions one can get at Wal-Mart. (This is one time I'm definitely glad for Wal-Mart.)

Mitral valve disease (or MVD) is the leading cause of death in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. I knew this when I adopted Toby. But MVD in Cavaliers causes them to go downhill pretty fast, at least compared to the progression on other dogs. The first link in this paragraph explains the whole thing quite well. Here is a snippet from that link and gets to the heart of the matter:

"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 20 times that of other breeds. 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."


As most of you know, Ed loves to hike, and we love to take the dogs hiking. Toby, being a "royal" breed of dog who was bred to sit on laps (really) shouldn't like hiking, but he does. The vet says exercise is still o.k. -- even good -- for Toby, but that we need to go easy. This means the hike to Panther Creek we've been planning since Ed and I have been together (more than two years now) may still happen, but we'll be buying a "Toby pack" before we go, as 7 miles will be too much for him. (We knew we'd have to do this eventually, but...)

Toby doesn't know he's sick. I'm not saying I won't tell him (I'm a "full disclosure" sort of girl), but I'm not going to treat him like a "porcelain puppy" either. That won't be fun for any of us, least of all Toby who, for example, whines if we stop too long while we're hiking.

Toby is a happy dog. I'm a sad human right now, but I guess that's to be expected.