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Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Cats (DCM)

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Optimal treatment for your pet with dilated cardiomyopathy requires a combination of home care and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical. Administer prescribed medication and alert your veterinarian if you are experiencing problems treating your pet. Optimal follow-up care often involves the following:

  • Administering prescribed medications. Remember – erratic administration of medication is a common reason for treatment failure.

  • Observe your pet's general activity level, appetite, and interest. These are quality of life issues of importance to you and your pet.

  • Watch your cat for labored or rapid breathing or for coughing. If possible, learn to take a respiratory (breathing) rate when your cat is resting (ask your veterinarian about this).

  • Follow-up chest X-rays may be required to monitor the response to therapy.

  • A blood digoxin test is done approximately 7 to 14 days after initiation of therapy to identify therapeutic vs. toxic drug levels.

  • Blood chemistry is checked periodically to monitor the effects of drugs on the kidneys and electrolytes like potassium. If kidney values or electrolytes are abnormal, the dose of diuretic must often be lowered.

  • Arterial blood pressure measurements should be checked periodically.

  • An echocardiogram should be done initially and repeated periodically (3 to 6 months after diagnosis and again in 9 to 12 months). Some cats experience improvement though most show progression of heart muscle disease.

  • If your cat was low in blood taurine, a repeated test should be done at one and three months to insure adequate supplementation.

  • Switch to a taurine supplemented diet in cats with DCM.

  • Of course, the precise follow-up depends on the severity of your cat's disease, response to therapy, your vet's recommendations, and your own views.

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