Monday, October 31, 2016

When the Pill Is Not the Cure

Donald McCaig sent me an article
(thank you!) on a pill that can extend the life of a dog by 15 months.

The catch? The miracle pill is for small dogs inbred for defect (aka they have mitral valve heart disease), and it costs about $1.50 a day for the fix.  That's about $800 out of pocket because you made the wrong breed choice.

Pete Wedderburn, aka "Pete the Vet" has a nice article about the need to focus on the nature of the problem, and not just the pill:

There is one notable aspect of the research project that has not been widely reported. A large majority of the dogs (83 per cent) in the study were pure bred pedigree dogs. Only 17 per cent were cross bred. And 45 per cent of the dogs were one breed: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Dachshunds, Miniature Schnauzers, Yorkshire Terriers and Poodles made up the rest. The message here is that leaky heart valves are highly heritable. If you buy a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy, there’s a high risk that your dog will develop heart failure due to leaky valves.

It follows that a simple non-drug approach could have an even more significant effect on dog health: don’t breed from dogs with heart disease. The Danish Kennel Club Association has taken a proactive approach to this, excluding dogs with loud heart murmurs from being used for breeding. A recent research paper shows that this has reduced the prevalence of heart murmurs in Danish Cavalier King Charles Spaniels by 73% over an 8 – 10 year period. Last year, over 20000 people signed a petition asking the Kennel Club in the UK to take a similar stance. The response from the Kennel Club was long winded, but the bottom line was that they are not going to do it.

So here’s a second message for dog owners: as well as getting your own dog checked for suitability for this new drug, please ask the Kennel Club why a proven scheme, such as that used in Scandinavia, is not being used to reduce heart disease in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels in the United Kingdom.

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