Therapy does not yet make sense

Mitral valve endocardiosis is the most common heart disease in dogs. It mainly affects the small breeds of dogs and older animals. Mitral valve endocardiosis is a degenerative disease of the heart valves that leads to thickening and thus shortening of the valves. As a result, when the heart muscle contracts, some of the blood from the ventricle returns to the atrium instead of being pumped further into the systemic circulation. As the disease progresses, blood back-up can lead to enlargement of the heart. Continue to heart failure with pulmonary edema. About a quarter of dogs between the ages of 9 and 12 suffer from it, and 35 percent of those over 13 do.


Small breeds in particular, such as Dachshunds, Mini Schnauzers, Shi Tzu, Miniature Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers and Cavalier King Charles Terriers, develop changes in their mitral valves over the course of their lives. However, the causes and triggers of the disease are not clearly understood; veterinary cardiologists suspect a (possibly genetically influenced) connective tie weakness.


A therapy does not make sense yet

Depending on the individual, the disease progresses at different rates. Often the leaking heart valve can be compensated for years, other animals develop first symptoms relatively soon. Occasionally, mitral valve endocardiosis is therefore an incidental finding during general examinations because the physician hears a heart murmur.

We recommend having the heart of small dogs (unless breed predisposed) listened to once a year starting at six years of age.

As scientists have found in a large-scale recent study (EPIC), the cardiovascular drug pimobendan, when used at the preclinical stage, can delay the onset of heart failure.

Depending on the severity, cardiologists divide the disease into different stages.

1. Low-grade mitral valve endocardiosis: In the early stages, animals are not yet impaired. But the disease is already noticeable by typical heart murmurs. However, only the veterinarian can hear these stages with a stethoscope. A therapy does not make sense yet. Especially since not all dogs with leaking heart valves develop clinical symptoms at some point in time. Some people remain symptom-free until the end of their lives. 2. Intermediate mitral valve endocardiosis: signs of disease such as increased respiratory rate, mild dyspnea and cough indicate decompensated intermediate mitral valve endocardiosis. Therapy can be started now. In the X-ray image, the doctor can usually see an enlarged heart. Heart ultrasound also shows the size of the atrium and the size of the mitral valves. Evaluate the ventricle as well as the contractility of the heart muscle. Short-term ECG, in turn, can detect cardiac arrhythmias.

1. High-grade mitral valve endocardiosis: In this advanced stage of the disease, the heart is already greatly enlarged, and the animals are conspicuous for their dry cough, shortness of breath at rest, fainting spells, marked weakness in performance, and possibly emaciation. In most cases, the animal now belongs in the clinic. In this case we recommend permanent relief by adjustment with medication.


There is no cure for the disease, nor is it possible to stop its progression. Unlike in humans, heart valve operations in dogs are also rarely successful. Veterinarians can only alleviate the symptoms through supportive measures. Delaying congestive heart failure (CHF). Therefore, as a rule, only dogs in an advanced stage of the disease are treated with medication. Whereby the treatment depending on the animal of the severity. Depends on the symptoms. Drugs of choice are pimobendan, antihypertensives (ACE inhibitors) and diuretics (furosemide). By flushing water out of the body, we can counteract pulmonary edema, for example. We like to use pimobendan (Vetmedin) in enlarged hearts because it supports the contractility of the heart muscle and has a vasodilator effect.

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