Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs (DCM) - Page 6

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Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs (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 pet for labored or rapid breathing or for coughing. If possible, learn to take a breathing rate when your pet 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 to14 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 dogs experience improvement though most show progression of heart muscle disease.

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


    The prognosis for dogs with DCM is guarded. From diagnosis, the average survival time is 3 months to 2 years.

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