Tips for Heart Healthy Cavaliers

Doing everything you can to keep your Cavalier’s heart healthy is of the utmost importance. The leading cause of death among Cavaliers is mitral valve disease, so keeping your Cavalier’s heart healthy is important to his or her overall health and longevity.

Heart Healthy for Longer Life

Our Cavaliers have big hearts. Unfortunately, while those hearts may be power houses of love and devotion, they’re not so strong when it comes to their bodies. It’s important we do everything we can to keep their hearts as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

What is Mitral Valve Disease

Mitral valve disease, also known as cardiac valve disease and endocardiosis, is a degenerative condition that affects nearly all Cavaliers. The mitral valve closes to form a tight seal when the heart contracts to push blood out. With mitral valve disease, the valve thickens and deforms over time, resulting in an inability to form a tight seal. This causes some of the blood in the heart to flow in the opposite direction as it pumps, forcing the heart to work harder. Over time, this weakens the heart and eventually leads to congestive heart failure.

How Can You Prevent Mitral Valve Disease

You can’t. It’s a genetic condition which is unpreventable. Responsible breeders will only breed dogs with the healthiest hearts and that is why they wait until their dogs are a few years old before breeding. But that still means an ongoing focus on heart health is so important for our Cavaliers. They are especially prone to the disease. In fact, almost all Cavaliers have some level of mitral valve disease but for Cavaliers like Davinia and Indiana that came from Responsible Breeders they are able to live healthy long lives! It can’t be prevented, a heart healthy focus helps keep the heart muscle stronger longer.

Tips for Heart Healthy Cavaliers

Focusing on Heart Healthy Habits

Although there’s no getting around mitral valve disease with our Cavaliers, there are some heart healthy things we can do to help our furry friends be healthier longer.


A proper diet is important for heart health. A quality, well-balanced diet contains all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients our Cavaliers need, and the proper amount helps maintain a healthy weight.

Healthy Weight

Speaking of healthy weight, a svelte Cavalier is a heart healthy Cavalier. Any overweight dog has a taxed heart. The more overweight the dog, the more his heart has to work. This is not conducive to a healthy heart. Always keep your Cavalier at its proper weight. No matter this breed of dog this is important but it makes me so sad when I see Cavaliers that are not at an ideal weight.


Regular exercise is key to a heart healthy lifestyle for us and for our Cavaliers. Exercise provides aerobic activity which strengthens the heart and blood vessels, and it helps keep our dogs at their ideal weights.

Routine Veterinary Exams

A key part of a heart healthy lifestyle for our Cavaliers is routine exams. This is when your vet will listen to your Cavalier’s heart in an effort to detect any sort of murmur. A routine checkup is the only way to detect the only sign of mitral valve disease – a mitral heart murmur. Almost all Cavaliers will have this eventually, so it pays to be vigilant with exams. If your Veterinarian hears anything they will probably call in another doctor in the practice to listen. If they determine that your Cavalier is having an issue they will recommend an EKG.

Good Oral Health

In any dog breed, chronic oral infections have been shown to correlate with mitral valve disease. For a breed like the Cavalier which is almost guaranteed to suffer from the degenerative condition, oral health is an absolute must. Always keep your Cavalier’s mouth in order, so you can keep his heart in order. I’ve written an article with tips on keeping your Cavalier’s mouth healthy. Healthy Teeth for a Healthy Cavalier

Heart Healthy Now for a Longer Life Later

Unfortunately, mitral valve disease is an almost certainty among Cavaliers. Fortunately, we can help strengthen their hearts to slow the progression of this degenerative disease. If you follow a heart healthy lifestyle, you can strengthen your Cavalier’s heart and circulatory system and hopefully slow the onset of mitral valve disease. It is possible and obtainable. Davinia is 11 years old and Indiana is almost 10. They enjoy “hunting” in the yard and walking in the mountains when they visit their grandma and grandpa. They keep up with everyone on their walks and are still smiling when they get back inside and to the water bowl.



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  1. I didn’t know that bread of dog has such a heart problem. I have always had bigger dogs, which have their own set of problems. Great tips here that can be used for all breeds.
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  2. Thanks for sharing. I’d never heard of mitral valve disease before. I agree especially about the regular vet visits. Just like people, pets need check ups too.

  3. Ashley Sears says

    This is super important to know, thanks for sharing!

  4. I knew that smaller dogs were more prone to this, but I had no idea that Cavaliers were almost certain to get it.

    • It takes a very dedicated breeders that waits several years and has an EKG done on every dog before mating. Most responsible breeders will ensure continued health though Clinic days at Breed Specific Dog Shows. While any Veterinarian can hear an advanced case of MVD only highly trained cardiologists can hear low grade ones just using a stethoscope. At least with the regular Clinic at a franction of the price of an EKG visit you can monitor things and with the Cardiologist determine if an EKG is the next step so that you can work on a course of treatment.
      Felissa Elfenbein recently posted..Tips for Heart Healthy CavaliersMy Profile

  5. I had no idea mitral valve was an issue for dogs. I learned about it in nursing school and it is a very serious issue.

    • Many dog breeds are prone to various forms of heart disease. Unfortunately with Cavaliers it is MVD and as hard as the Reputable Breeders try to get rid of it in their lines. The bad ones just breed to make money without testing or waiting until an age where baseline testing will help in making a determination if the breeding dogs have healthy hearts.
      Felissa Elfenbein recently posted..Healthy Teeth for a Healthy CavalierMy Profile

  6. Thank you for the info! I try to feed my dog the best dog food and keep her little body healthy too.

  7. Wow, how scary. I had no idea there were certain conditions that only affect specific breeds. I wonder what our pit bull/boxer mix is susceptible to.

  8. This is such great information for all dog owners. I know that we try to take care of our dog the best we can with vet visits, good nutrition, and taking care of his teeth. He is a special part of our household so we do all we can to keep him healthy.

  9. I had no idea that Cavaliers were so prone to heart problems. This is great information for anyone considering owning a Cavaliers.

  10. I’ve never heard of mitral valve disease before. That is pretty scary for pet owners. You never want your pets hurt or sick. At least there are things to help keep them healthy!

  11. Aww poor things, this is great advice to keep them healthy! I had no idea! Thanks for the info.

  12. It’s funny because many don’t think of pets like humans, yet so many of their issues can be helped by a healthy lifestyle, much like humans. My greatest argument with my FIL is not allowing human food for the dogs… Ugh, it drives me nuts.

  13. Jody Smith says

    Good reminder that our pets need good medical care and attention just like we do. I had no idea this was a common problem.

  14. These are great tips! We have always had bigger dogs, but a lot of these can apply to them too!

  15. Thanks for sharing. this was very informative.

  16. Ann Bacciaglia says

    It would be so scary for your dog to have these conditions. I did not know it was so common in Cavaliers.

  17. Cavaliers are such beautiful dogs. My friend has two and they are the greatest little dogs.
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  18. These are great tips. I love Cavaliers. They are so smart and cute.
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  19. All great tips and reminders for all dogs. I know we have a terrier and a Border Collie, but I want them both to be at their best and be with us for a long time.

  20. This is great information. I didn’t know about this and I would be too scared if my pet has this.
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  21. We didn’t know that about Cavaliers. They surely are sweet dogs though. Those tips would helpful for keeping all breeds of dog healthy.

  22. These are wonderful tips! Thank you soo much for sharing.

  23. Thanks for sharing, excellent tips to keep their hearts healthy that also could be used by humans wanting to get same healthy hearts! Regards!
    Isabel Raynaud recently posted..Tarot SI o NO de Isabel RaynaudMy Profile

  24. I didn’t know that Cavaliers were prone to Mitro Valve disease. Thanks for sharing these heart healthy tips, they are helpful for all dogs not just Caveliers!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them
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  25. The advice you listed above for being “heart healthy” are quite effective but surprisingly simple. As you pointed out, the heart requires proper diets and exercise, which are rather easy. When you eat unhealthy food, it can lead to blockages in the heart that could result in a heart attack or other such cardiac issues. Like any other muscle, the heart needs nutrients to grow big and strong, but it also needs to be worked, so that it can likewise get stronger. Heart health can seem like a complicated science, but it doesn’t have to be. Simply eating healthy, which means healthy fats like avocados as well, and exercising often, your heart will grow big and strong.

  26. That mitral valve disease is certainly a worrisome issue for cavalier owners. What’s more is the fact that it cannot be prevented. All the owner could do is lessen its effects. Those are good advices, cavalier owners should read that.
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