Degenerative valve disease accounts for 75 percent of cardiovascular disease in all dogs. Numerous dog species are affected by degenerative valve disease, though the disorder primarily affects dogs classified as small and medium in size, including English bulldogs. While the disease is very well understood, treatment options are limited.
Although the actual cause of degenerative valve disease is not known, it is characterized by nodular thickening of the cardiac valve leaflets. This thickening causes blood to accumulate in the heart, causing increased pressure.
Several symptoms are indicative of degenerative valve disease, including labored or heavy breathing, increased coughing, fainting spells, restlessness and weight loss. Symptoms like labored breathing, which is common in bulldogs, are sometimes difficult to diagnose.
Treatment for degenerative valve disease in English bulldogs typically focuses on eliminating the signs of congestive heart failure. A combination of drugs and physical removal of fluid, performed by a veterinarian, are commonly employed. Drugs include diuretics, enzyme inhibitors and after load reducers.
Long term, degenerative valve disease typically results in congestive heart failure in English bulldogs.
At this time there are no proven prevention methods for degenerative valve disease. There are several ongoing clinical trials, though none have proven effective at slowing or preventing the disease.