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Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs (DCM)

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Diagnosis In-depth

A complete medical history should be obtained and your veterinarian should complete a thorough physical examination. Medical tests are needed to establish the diagnosis, exclude other diseases, and determine the impact of this disorder on your pet. The following diagnostic tests are often recommended:

  • A thorough physical examination. Special attention is paid to auscultation (stethoscope examination) of the heart. Heart murmurs, abnormal heart sounds, and irregular heart rhythms may indicate a problem with the heart.

  • Thoracic radiographs. X-rays of the chest identify heart enlargement and fluid accumulation in the chest.

  • An electrocardiogram (EKG). While this test is often abnormal in cases of serious heart disease, it can be normal in many other pets with heart disease.

  • An echocardiogram. An ultrasound examination of the heart is required for establishing the diagnosis of DCM. Important examination issues include the size of the heart and the ability of the ventricle to contract. This examination may require referral to a specialist.

    Your veterinarian may recommend additional diagnostic tests to exclude or diagnose other conditions, or to understand the impact of dilated cardiomyopathy on your pet. These tests insure optimal medical care and should be selected on a case-by-case basis. Examples include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC). This blood test may be needed to identify anemia or other problems such as infections or inflammations.

  • Serum biochemistry tests. This blood test is especially important if there is heart failure or complications in other organs.

  • Taurine concentrations may be determined from a blood sample.

  • Urinalysis to evaluate kidney function

  • Heartworm test if prevention has not been given

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