Overview of Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease characterized by dilation or enlargement of the heart chambers and markedly reduced contraction. The left ventricle is most always involved. Advanced cases demonstrate dilation of all cardiac chambers.
DCM is very common in dogs, representing the most common reason for congestive heart failure (CHF). This heart disease also can cause heart valve leakage causing heart murmurs or abnormal electrical activity of the heart-producing arrhythmias (irregular or abnormal heartbeats). Large and giant breed dogs, especially males, are predisposed. Doberman pinschers, Irish wolfhounds, Scottish Deerhound, boxer, Afghan hound, Old English Sheepdog, Great Danes, Dalmatians, Newfoundlands, and Saint Bernards are common breeds. English and American cocker spaniel breeds and Portuguese water dogs also develop DCM.
The clinical condition of canine DCM can range from overtly healthy (occult disease) to severe heart failure. Some dogs experience primary electrical disturbances (arrhythmia) such as atrial fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia.
The disease is thought to be genetic in Doberman pinschers, Irish wolfhounds, Newfoundlands, boxers, and Portuguese water dogs. The disease is sometimes seen in Dalmatians fed a low protein diet and in cocker spaniels and gold retrievers with taurine deficiency.
The average age of onset is 4 to 10 years, although Portuguese water dogs can acquire the disease when very young.
DCM is very serious and the mortality rate, even of treated cases, is very high.
What to Watch For
Symptoms of Dilated Cardiomyopathy in dogs may include:
The advent of these problems should alert you that a serious emergency is at hand.
Diagnosis of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in Dogs
Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize dilated cardiomyopathy and exclude all other diseases. Tests may include:
Treatment of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in Dogs
Home Care and Prevention
In-depth Information on Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in Dogs
Related Symptoms or Diseases
DCM is thought to be the result of diverse processes that affect heart muscle cell function. The vast majority of cases of DCM are idiopathic, which means they have no known cause and are probably predisposed by genetic factors. Causes may include:
A number of other diseases can be easily confused with dilated cardiomyopathy unless an appropriate diagnostic evaluation is completed. Diagnostic tests should help exclude the following conditions from consideration: