Dilated Cardiomyopathy In Dogs

Dilated Cardiomyopathy In Dogs


Dilated Cardiomyopathy In Dogs

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a primary disease of the heart muscle which results in a progressive loss of muscle strength, dilation of the heart chambers, and ultimately a decreased ability to pump blood to the body. Dilated cardiomyopathy primarily afflicts purebred large and giant breed dogs, with the Doberman Pinscher and Great Dane having a higher incidence within the breed. Occurrence of dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs increases with the age of the patient, however it can affect both young and old dogs. Dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs is most likely caused by inheritable genetic mutations, however the exact genes and heritability patterns have not been fully defined and are still under active investigation.

DCM can affect both the left and right sides of the heart with either side being more severely affected. Typically both the ventricle (main pumping chamber) and the atria (upper chamber) enlarge resulting in the ventricle losing its ability to contract and pump blood out to the body and/or lungs. The consequences of the heart's failing ability to pump blood can be compared to a simple mechanical pump. If the sump pump in your basement fails, water backs up into the basement; if the left heart fails, fluid backs up into the lungs, and if the right heart fails, fluid backs up in the abdomen or the space surrounding the lungs.

Treatment of DCM is aimed at improving the heart's ability to pump and controlling the signs of congestive heart failure. Unfortunately, cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal electrical activity/irregular heart beat) can be a serious complication in this disease, and certain breeds are more predisposed to this concurrent problem. When an irregular heart rhythm is present, anti-arrhythmic therapy may be an additional part of the treatment plan in order to improve cardiac function and prevent dangerous arrhythmias and sudden death.

The gold standard for assessing the severity and treatment options for affected pets is an evaluation and echocardiogram performed by a board certified veterinary cardiologist such as those at CVCA. We use a tiered approach to therapy, which is tailored to each individual patient based on all of the information obtained from our diagnostic tools and our collective clinical experience. Long term prognosis for dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs varies considerably. Dogs with signs of congestive heart failure at the time of diagnosis typically survive six months to two years, although some breeds are subject to a more severe form of the disease and may survive only weeks. Our goal is an open collaboration with you and your family veterinarian in order to prevent and/or eliminate signs of congestive heart failure and provide optimal quality and quantity of life at home.

Cat & Dog Cardiology

CVCA - Cardiac Care for Pets • View Our Locations in Maryland and Virginia

CVCA – Cardiac Care for Pets is an established leader in veterinary cardiology. Our veterinary cardiologists specialize in evaluation and treatment of dilated cardiomyopathy, heart mumurs, pericardial effusion, and arterial thromboembolism.