What Is Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs?

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a progressive heart disease in dogs that results in enlargement and dysfunction of the heart chambers.

The condition eventually leads to congestive cardiac failure and death.

There is no proven preventive method for this disease, although treatment may prolong life or delay the onset of symptoms.

While treatment is effective in improving quality of life, it is not a cure. Most affected individuals eventually succumb to heart failure.

The signs and symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs are often similar to those of left-sided congestive failure in humans.

Affected dogs show reduced exercise tolerance and an increase in breathing rate.

A dog with heart failure may have a cough, which may seem soft. Some animals with dilated cardiomyopathy may have abdominal enlargement or heavy breathing.

Advanced cases may also exhibit other clinical signs, such as loss of appetite and labored breathing.

A physical exam may be necessary to detect dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs. If a dog develops DCM, it will often display symptoms of left-sided congestive failure, such as increased breathing rate or effort with activity.

Other signs may include a cough that is soft but persistent. Abdominal enlargement and heavy breathing are also signs of heart failure in dogs.

However, while symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy may seem to be normal, they are not.

DCM In Dogs

What is the treatment for dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs?

Diagnosis is not easy, but blood tests can diagnose dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs. In addition to a physical exam, blood tests can detect dilated cardiomyopathy, which can be a precursor to other cardiac diseases.

Ultimately, proper treatment is necessary to avoid further damage to a dog’s heart. With proper care, your dog can enjoy a healthy and active life.

In the early stages, symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy can include abdominal enlargement, difficulty exercising, and an irregular heartbeat. The disease is usually caused by the weakening of the heart muscle.

As a result, it becomes larger than normal, resulting in an enlarged heart. Most commonly dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs is inherited, though it can affect any breed.

Dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs can be diagnosed through blood tests. The symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy include increased heart rate and an increase in an effort to exert oneself.

Several other signs of dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs include rapid, heavy breathing, a blue tongue, and loss of appetite. In advanced stages, the condition can cause severe heart failure and death, so it is important to seek help as soon as possible.

How long can a senior dog live with an enlarged heart?

The symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy vary between dogs. While it can occur suddenly or slowly, it can also appear subtly over a long period of time.

Some dogs develop congestive heart failure in only a few hours.

Symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy include excessive breathing, abdominal enlargement, and heavy breathing. In some cases, dilated cardiomyopathy may even lead to death.

DCM in dogs is a serious condition that affects the heart muscle. It causes a floppy heart and can be fatal. The condition is usually caused by an irregular heartbeat.

The most common breeds affected by DCM are large/giant breed dogs, as well as certain types of Spaniels.

Some of the causes of DCM include a poor diet and certain medications.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle. It occurs when the heart muscle is weakened and can no longer contract properly, resulting in a dilated heart. Dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs is caused by a variety of factors.

Low levels of thyroid hormone, infectious diseases, and other conditions can contribute to dilated cardiomyopathy. Despite the complexity of the disease, the underlying cause is unknown.

DCM in dogs can be a genetic condition that results in degeneration of the heart muscle, which causes it to become asymptomatic.

Hereditary Genetic conditions are something that you need to be aware of if you are ever buying a dog from a breeder.


It can cause heart failure and is usually fatal. Symptomatic treatment for dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs involves the administration of drugs that stimulate the kidneys.

These medications are usually prescribed for short-term relief and can be very expensive. Diuretics are not the best solution for this disease.

Some questions answered

How long do dogs live with dilated cardiomyopathy?

Generally speaking, the vast majority of dogs with asymptomatic DCM can live for three to five years before showing any evidence of cardiac failure. However, a few people will pass away unexpectedly.

Is it possible for dogs to recover from dilated cardiomyopathy?

Some dogs with DCM respond well to treatment for a length of time; however, some dogs will never be able to return to a normal lifestyle after receiving treatment.

When diagnosed with cancer, Doberman Pinschers have been shown to live as short as three months. It has been reported that other dogs can live between 6 and 24 months if they respond well to treatment.

What causes dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs?

What causes dogs to die as a result of DCM?

Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

Heart muscles deteriorate and become thin in patients with DCM. A decrease in contractility (the ability of the heart to contract and pump blood) occurs as a result of thinner muscle walls, which ultimately results in congestive heart failure.

Can dogs recover from dilated cardiomyopathy?

Fortunately, while DCM cannot be cured, there are heart drugs that can be used to decrease its progression and assist control the symptoms it produces. The type of treatment your dog will require will be determined by the stage of DCM they are experiencing.

Can an enlarged heart in a dog be treated?

Is it possible to reverse dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs?

Unfortunately, DCM is seldom reversible, and those who have it are likely to have it for the rest of their lives.

As previously noted, taurine insufficiency in a tiny fraction of the population is an extremely rare exception.

Medical therapy can be beneficial, but the long-term survival of each animal is unpredictable.

What is the treatment for canine dilated cardiomyopathy?

The goal of DCM treatment is to improve the function of the heart while also reducing the signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure. Pimobendan and other similar drugs are used to assist the heart in contracting more powerfully.

When used to regulate and prevent the accumulation of fluid in or around the lungs, diuretics, such as Lasix, are effective.

Moreover, adding a supplement to your dog’s diet has been shown to work well especially in breeds that are more susceptible to heart conditions.

What is the rate of progression of DCM?

It is common for DCM to grow gradually (over months to years) before it manifests itself as symptoms. Despite the fact that DCM is incurable, it is frequently treatable with medicine.

DCM is a progressive disease that worsens over time; nevertheless, the earlier a dog is recognized and treated, the better his or her prognosis is.

What foods cause DCM in dogs?

What should I feed my dog to avoid DCM?

Since the FDA began investigating the cause of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a number of pet foods have been linked to the condition.

One study analyzed more than 800 compounds and determined that peas and other legumes were the main culprits. Peas and potatoes are commonly used in diets that are marketed as “grain-free.”

While these ingredients may seem safe, the risk of DCM is real and they should be avoided.

The FDA has reported a rise in cases of dilated cardiomyopathy, but the underlying causes are not known.

However, genetic tests are available for dogs that are at risk. While the numbers of cases are small, they are indicative of a growing number of pet owners concerned about the safety of grain-free and legume-inclusive dog food.

A grain-free diet is one option for pet owners looking to reduce the risks of DCM.

The FDA also warns against solely grain-free diets for dogs.

While not all grains are equal, a grain-free diet may contain high amounts of gluten and other allergens. As a result, it is not advisable to feed your dog this food.

As with any food, it is recommended to switch to a different type of diet if you are unsure of its safety. If you’re concerned about your pet’s health, consult with your veterinarian before changing their diet.

In Summary….

For me, I would say a diet that is good for your dog would be a combination of decent dog food, water, and exercise.

Go easy on the treats, get your dog checked out at your vets every year, keep an eye on what is coming out the back end, worm them regularly, and always be checking them regularly for any changes in their presentation.

Remember, a dog can’t tell you if it has heart disease. It’s up to you to always be looking after all of their health-related concerns.

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