When I became a dog owner, I didn’t think I was going to be one of those people who saw their relationship with their dog as a legitimate connection. From the outside, those people seem weird; we all think it. But now that I’ve been responsible for my dog for the last three years, I’ve come to realize how inescapable that feeling is. Even though I have a girlfriend, I have a loving family, and I’m surrounded by good friends, I can’t help but think my dog knows me the best. Needless to say, it’ll be devastating when my dog is gone, like it is for most dedicated pet owners.
The problem is that most dogs just don’t live that long. If your dog lives around 15 years, that’s considered a pretty long lifespan for your furry friend. Some of the large breeds, Great Danes in particular, are only expected to live around seven years, and that’s the average. When you know you’re going to be connected to this dog emotionally from the moment they’re yours, this can definitely put a strain on the decision to even get one at all.
However, a seven-year-long study led by the Royal Veterinary College at the University of London found that a drug called pimobendan delays the onset of heart failure linked to mitral valve disease, or MVD, in dogs for an average of 15 months. When multiple heart valves become damaged or infected, blood flow to and from the heart isn’t as easy; this is what causes MVD. This is the most common heart disease for dogs, especially small dogs.
Most dogs who suffer from heart disease die within two years of its start, but this drug could counteract the condition long enough for at least another year. Though it has to be proven through various scans and ultrasounds that a dog has MVD before a veterinarian can prescribe the owner the drug. This can be a problem because heart disease will rarely make itself apparent through physical symptoms, other than a heart murmur. Another reason why owners should make going to the vet a regular occurrence.
Around one in every 25 dogs will show signs of heart disease. In the United Kingdom alone, over 250,000 dogs likely suffer from the disease, MVD. If this statistic gets bumped up to a more global scale, the number of dogs and owners who could benefit from this drug increases drastically.
Unfortunately, many dog owners don’t even realize that this problem exists. The fact that this particular disease effects smaller breeds rather than large breeds, breeds that typically have heart problems, makes the issue even worse.
This study was actually terminated early because it was deemed unethical to withhold the drug from dogs in the placebo group. The evidence was so conclusive that no further research was even necessary to draw an in-depth conclusion. For pets, this type of study was unprecedented in the field because it was already up to the standards of human medical trials.
Due to the study’s findings, we can all expect to have a few more great moments with our furry companions. No drug will be able to give us the time that we’d like, but that’s just a part of life. All we can do is give our dogs the best possible lives, and all the bones, they could ever want.