This is a Heart condition.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy, DCM1

What is DCM1?

DCM is the most common acquired heart disease of adult dogs. The heart has two heavily muscled ventricles that pump blood away from the heart. This disease causes progressive weakening of the ventricles by reducing the muscle mass, which causes the ventricles to dilate. Dilated ventricles do not contract and circulate oxygenated blood well, which eventually leads to heart failure.

What are the signs & symptoms that develop in affected dogs?

In the early stages of DCM, you will likely not notice any changes in your dog. DCM typically presents at the end stages of the disease, when the heart is failing. Signs include weakness, cold toes and ears, blue-grey gums and tongue, and respiratory distress. If you see these signs, take your dog immediately to an emergency veterinarian!

When do signs and symptoms develop?

This disease can rarely be seen in puppies and young adults. It is typically seen in middle aged to older dogs.

How do vets diagnose this condition?

The earlier a diagnosis can be reached, the better the outcome. If you are concerned about your dog’s heart, discuss it with your veterinarian who can run basic preliminary tests. They may recommend a visit to a veterinary cardiologist for a complete evaluation, including an ultrasound of the heart (echocardiogram).

How is this condition treated?

Treatment is completely dependent on how advanced the disease is at the time of diagnosis. It can range from monitoring the patient periodically to intensive hospitalization at specialty veterinary practices.

What actions should I take if my dog is affected?

  • The cause of this disease is multifactorial and not completely understood. Genetics, nutrition, infections and environmental exposures can all play a role in the development of DCM. In fact, DCM has recently been featured extensively in the news due to suspected nutritional deficiencies in some grain free diets.
  • Annual echocardiograms by a board certified cardiologist and annual Holter monitoring are the best ways to diagnose DCM early.
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