What Is Mitral Regurgitation?

Mitral regurgitation, or “leaky valve disease,” is a common heart disease in canines, often leading to congestive heart failure (CHF). This is an acquired form of heart disease particularly seen among older, smaller, and medium-sized breeds, usually with the onset of old age. 

It occurs when the mitral valve (the valve connecting the left atrium and left ventricle) undergoes degenerative changes. Over time it thickens, becomes floppier, and eventually collapses, leading to the backflow of blood from the left ventricle to the left atrium. With the onset of mitral regurgitation, your dog is now at risk of developing congestive heart failure. 


The valves in the heart prevent the backward flow of blood, so all the organs of a dog’s body receive blood through effective blood circulation. With the collapse of the mitral valve, it takes more effort for the heart to continue pumping blood through the body. Eventually, this can lead to an enlargement of the heart, shortness of breath, coughing, arrhythmias (irregular rhythms), collapse, weakness, and CHF. 


The Incident of Mitral Regurgitation

An estimated 10%[1] of dogs (1 in 10) suffer from heart disease in their lifetime. However, mitral valve disease is the most common variant[2] of all acquired cardiovascular diseases. It is estimated that around 75% of dogs with mitral valve disease will develop CHF in their lifetime. However, mitral regurgitation will depend on several factors, including breed type, age, progression of MR, and existing health conditions. 


Mitral regurgitation is more common in small to medium-sized dogs than large breeds. Some breeds that are predisposed to developing MR and congestive heart failure include the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Fox Terrier, Cocker Spaniel, Miniature Schnauzer, Shih Tzu, Miniature Poodle, Toy Poodle, Pomeranian, Chihuahua, Pekingese, Yorkie, and Dachshund. It usually affects dogs after they cross the age of eight years. There are concerns that the onset of MR may be linked to certain genetic strains, but this is yet to be studied. 


How to Diagnose and Manage Mitral Regurgitation and CHF in Canines?

While there is no cure for mitral valve disease, there are treatments that can manage disease progression and ensure your dog leads a long, happy life. Moreover, as MR is regarded as a common acquired cardiovascular disease among dogs, it is imperative to take steps to ensure timely diagnosis. 


  1. In most cases, owners assume their dog’s coughing, weakness, and lethargy are a result of old age, which can delay diagnosis. In many cases, these signs are completely invisible until CHF develops. Once the heart undergoes degenerative changes, it becomes more difficult to manage the development of the disease and impending CHF. 


  1. Fortunately, recently published research at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) offers new methods of assessing MR in canines and managing congestive heart failure. According to the research, the dimensions and rates of changes in the heart of canines can help us determine the onset of potential congestive heart failure. 


  1. The left heart chambers, in particular, exhibit a rapid increase in size, particularly during the year preceding CHF development among dogs with MR. An increase in the left ventricular end-systolic dimension is therefore identified as a possible indicator of congestive heart failure among dogs with mitral regurgitation. It could allow us to predict impending CHF for at-risk canines. 


SONTU 100-Cupid Veterinary Digital Radiography in Action

To study changes in heart dimensions, you need an X-ray exam. SONTU – a professional manufacturer of medical imaging equipment – provides SONTU 100-Cupid Veterinary Digital Radiography

Digital radiography is an advanced form of medical X-ray machine . It can be leveraged for precise and reliable heart size measurements that are critical to assess MR disease progression in canines. With the help of SONTU’s cutting-edge technology, veterinarians can effectively assess whether your canine is at risk of impending CHF. This early assessment can allow owners to utilize early treatment, monitoring, and medications to ensure their dog lives a healthier life. 


  • SONTU 100-Cupid features a highly user-friendly graphical interface allowing a quick preview of images and adjustable parameters on the display screen. 
  • With its exceptional imaging quality, veterinarians can quickly assess the progression of MR disease in canines. 
  • It can further be used to evaluate diseases in various pets and small animals, including cats, birds, and turtles. 
  • With the help of the SONTU 100-Cupid, practitioners can quickly measure vertebral heart size, aiding in the management of MR and CHF and ensuring that your furry friend lives a long, happy life. 



Founded in 2009, SONTU is a global manufacturer of medical imaging technology, aimed at providing reliable digital radiography solutions. SONTU is at the forefront of providing innovative X-ray technologies around the globe by investing heavily on research and development. By leveraging SONTU’s state-of-the-art technologies, practitioners worldwide are able to conveniently and effectively diagnose a wide array of diseases. Visit the official site to learn more about SONTU products. 




  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19780929/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22386587/