Mitral Valve Disease in Dogs: Watch Out!

If you are a pet owner, you know the importance of providing your furry friends with the best care possible. That includes understanding their health risks and knowing when to seek medical attention. In this blog post, we will explore what mitral valve disease in dogs is, how it affects your canine companion, and its symptoms and treatments.

What is Mitral Valve Disease?

Mitral valve disease (MVD) is a common heart condition in dogs. It occurs when the mitral valve, which controls blood flow between the heart’s left atrium and left ventricle, doesn’t function properly. This can cause blood to leak back into the left atrium, resulting in an enlarged heart and, eventually, heart failure.

MVD is most common in small breeds of dogs and often affects older animals. There is no cure for MVD, but treatment options are available to help your dog manage the condition and live a long, happy life.

dogs mitral valve disease dogs
Credit Karma

The Different Types

Dogs have four different types of mitral valve disease: juvenile, acquired, degenerative, and endocarditis.

Juvenile mitral valve disease is the most common type of condition and is typically diagnosed in dogs between the ages of one and three. The cause of this type of disease is unknown, but it is thought to be congenital. It is characterized by a thickening and/or stiffening of the mitral valve’s leaflets, which can lead to the regurgitation of blood back into the left atrium. This can cause congestion of the lungs and heart failure.

Acquired mitral valve disease is less common than juvenile mitral valve disease and typically occurs in older dogs. It is caused by deterioration of the valve leaflets due to wear and tear over time. This leads to regurgitation and congestion of the lungs as well as heart failure.

Degenerative mitral valve disease is also known as myxomatous mitral valve disease (MMVD). It is the most common form of heart disease in dogs and typically affects small breeds such as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Toy Poodles, Chihuahuas, Miniature Schnauzers, and Boston Terriers. It usually occurs in middle-aged to older dogs (between five and ten years old), although it can occasionally be seen in younger dogs as well.

Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of the heart, including the mitral valve. It can be caused by bacteria, fungi, or other organisms and can lead to inflammation of the mitral valve as well as leakage of blood back into the left atrium. Endocarditis can cause severe congestion and swelling of the lungs, as well as heart failure.


The most common symptom of mitral valve disease in dogs is a heart murmur. This is usually first detected by a veterinarian during a routine physical examination. Other symptoms may include exercise intolerance, weakness, fainting, and an increased respiratory rate. If your dog has any of these symptoms, it is important to have them evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

symptom of mitral valve disease in dogs infographic


There are several possible causes of mitral valve disease in dogs, including:

– A congenital (present at birth) defect in the valve itself;

– Damage to the valve from a bacterial or viral infection;

– Autoimmune disease;

– Degenerative changes that occur with age.

In many cases, the exact cause of mitral valve disease in a particular dog may never be determined. However, knowing the possible causes can help your veterinarian provide the best care for your pet.

Diagnosing Mitral Valve Disease

There are several ways to diagnose mitral valve disease in dogs. The most common method is through auscultation, which is listening to the heart with a stethoscope. This can help your veterinarian identify a heart murmur, which is often an early sign of mitral valve disease.

Other diagnostic tests may include chest X-rays, echocardiography, and cardiac MRI. Blood tests may also be performed to check for signs of heart failure or other underlying conditions.

Treatments for Mitral Valve Disease

There are two main types of treatment for mitral valve disease in dogs: medical and surgical.

Medical treatment focuses on managing the symptoms of the disease and slowing its progression. This may include medications to help control heart rate and blood pressure and diuretics to reduce fluid buildup in the lungs. Your vet may also recommend lifestyle changes, such as reducing your dog’s activity level and weight loss, if necessary.

Surgical treatment is typically only recommended when medical management is no longer effective or the dog is experiencing significant heart failure. The most common surgery for mitral valve disease is mitral valve replacement, which involves replacing the diseased valve with a mechanical or biological prosthetic valve.

Prevention of Mitral Valve Disease

The best way to prevent mitral valve disease in dogs is to have them checked by a veterinarian regularly and to catch any early signs of the disease. Some breeds of dogs are more prone to develop mitral valve disease, so it is vital to be aware of this if you own one of these breeds. Some things that you can do to help prevent your dog from this type of disease include:

  • Feeding them a healthy diet;
  • Exercising them regularly;
  • Keeping their weight at a healthy level;
  • Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
puppy lying on magazine beside food bowl
Photo by Vijesh Datt on Unsplash


Mitral valve disease in dogs is a severe condition that requires prompt diagnosis and treatment. It can affect the overall health of a canine, leading to life-threatening issues if left untreated. With the help of your vet, you can provide early intervention and ensure your pet’s good quality of life for many years to come. Thank you for reading this blog article!

Also read: Emotional Impact Of Losing A Pet

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