The rare heart condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy (DMC) is something that pet owners are starting to worry more about than ever. Part of the reason for this is that DCM in dogs has been reported at a much higher rate recently than it has in past years. Another reason is that the FDA released an opinion-based study on the topic of DCM and pet food.
Although this study was published as an opinion piece, pet owners are still reading it as a factual piece of information. In order to get the facts straight and not just take opinions as they come and go, a pet owner must do his or her research and form unique thoughts and opinions on the topic. Here you can learn the basics of the disease itself, the causes of DCM, how to properly diagnose the disease, and what treatment methods are currently available.
All the Facts About Canine and Feline Dilated Cardiomyopathy
This heart condition is mainly experienced by certain canine breeds, but cats are also at risk of developing the condition. Mainly large breeds of canine are effected, but just as cats have a very small risk of DCM development, so do small dogs. However, this is very unlikely, and the most common DCM canine patients include breeds like Great Dane, Saint Bernard, and Doberman Pinscher.
The disease itself affects the functioning of the heart. The ventricular muscles become weakened, and eventually enter an enlargened state because of this. The larger-than-average heart is better able to pump blood throughout the body, but eventually even this stops working. A buildup of fluids happens throughout the body over time, and eventually the heart cannot pump blood through these fluids. This is the phase where a pet experiences congestive heart failure.
DCM Signs, Symptoms, and Steps for Diagnosis
A source called Vet Specialists says that “the signs of DCM vary depending on the breed of dog and stage of the disease. Loss of appetite, pale gums, increased heart rate, coughing, difficulty breathing, periods of weakness, and fainting are signs commonly seen.” If your canine or feline is experiencing any of these symptoms, a trip to the vet is a must.
Once at the vet, a professional can do a few things to determine if DCM is present. The simplest procedure is to listen to the heartbeat for fluid buildup around the heart and lungs. More definitive testing would include an ultrasound, an X-Ray of the heart, and an electrocardiogram.
DCM Treatment Methods
Treatment is based greatly on the severity of the animal’s condition. If the disease has progressed on for too long, the vet may just recommend that you make your pet comfortable and give it tons of care and attention. When caught early enough, though, DCM is very treatable with the proper combination of medications. This is why pet owners with large breeds of dog that are highly predisposed to the condition should visit the vet for basic annual screenings.