Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

What is Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy?

This is the condition of the cardiac muscle, which is degenerative. The muscle, especially the ones in the thick left ventricle walls, becomes thinner and weaker. The blood pressure in the heart will make the thin walls stretch resulting in an enlarged heart. This will impair the pumping function of the heart and the blood flow to the body and lungs. Since there would be less blood flowing to the lungs, a build-up of fluid will start, which will eventually cause the heart to become congested, leading to potential congestive heart failure (CHF).

How can you tell if it is DCM?

First thing you can do is take your dog to the vet, where they will examine the heart physically by listening to the chest for any murmurs, location and intensity. An electrocardiogram could also be done to monitor or detect any fibrillation of the heart or tachycardia (rapid beating of the heart). As well as this, an echocardiogram (ultrasound) is used to monitor the pumping function of the heart and chamber wall dilation. Chest X Rays are used to see the size of the heart as DCM causes enlargement.

Some of the symptoms:

·     Lack of energy and reduced ability to exercise

·     Fast and excessive breathing

·     Shortness and laboured breathing

·     Coughing

·     Decreased appetite

·     Loss of consciousness

Are there some dogs more prone to this condition?

Larger breeds are the most likely to get this condition, males have the higher incidence over females. Examples are Boxers, St Bernards, Great Danes. But some medium sized dogs can get it too, such as Cocker Spaniels or Springer Spaniels. Smaller/toy breeds are much rarer.


Finally, I am dedicating this article to a Golden Retriever called Joey who sadly died of this condition on the 15th June 2019. So, I just wanted to do a bit of research on what this condition is all about and hopefully raise a bit of awareness to other people.

RIP Joey (25/04/2018-15/06/19) – Sending lots of love to you and to your family

Skye and Cody

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