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Dilated Cardiomyopathy In Dogs


What is Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)?

  • Heart muscle disease that causes loss of heart muscle strength, enlargement of the heart, and a decreased ability to pump blood through the body(heart failure).
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy affects any age dog, but occurrence increases with age.
  • Heart failure can be compared to a common 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; if the right heart fails, fluid backs up in the belly.
  • Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias/abnormal electrical activity) can be a life threatening complication of this disease.

What causes DCM?

  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy occurs in families of dogs. The exact genes and/or modes of inheritance have not been fully defined and research on this continues.
  • Doberman Pinscher and Great Dane are often affected.

How is DCM Diagnosed?

  • Through a cardiac evaluation and echocardiogram (sonogram of the heart) performed by a board certified veterinary cardiologist such as those at CVCA.
  • Holter monitors are often required to check the dog’s heart rhythm over 24 hours. These devices are worn by the patient in a small backpack and usually are well tolerated.

How is Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs treated?

  • The specific treatment is tailored to the individual patient.
  • Oral medications are most commonly used and many are the same as those used for people with heart disease.
  • Therapy improves the heart’s ability to pump and controls the signs of congestive heart failure.
  • Treatment extends the life of the patient while allowing the pet excellent quality of life.
  • Some patients also need medications to improve their heart rhythm. These medications are crucial to minimize the risk of arrhythmias and sudden death.

Get the Best Cardiac Care for Your Pet!

At CVCA our team of board-certified veterinary cardiologists work with more dogs and cats with heart disease than any other practice worldwide!

Find a Location (We offer several convenient locations throughout Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky & Texas)