No human being with an ounce of compassion ever wishes to see an animal suffer, especially when it comes to our dogs. Sadly, pet owners don’t have complete control of their canines’ health, and some health issues are completely out of our control. DCM in dogs is one of the most common canine diseases, especially in larger dog breeds.
The Basics of DCM in Dogs
DCM is short for dilated cardiomyopathy, which is something that many human beings experience as well. DCM is a common heart disease that involves the weakening of the heart muscles. Because of the heart’s weakened state, the organ begins to struggle with pumping blood throughout the body. Eventually, DCM can lead to complete heart failure, both in canines and in humans.
Causes of Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy
Many heart diseases have to do with poor nutrition and diet, but DCM has been linked to genetics as well. Certain dog breeds are at a much higher risk of developing dilated cardiomyopathy, large breeds in particular. A study performed by the veterinarian school at Cornell University shows that “breeds predisposed to DCM include the Doberman Pinscher, the Great Dane, the Boxer, and the Cocker Spaniel.”
However, DCM should not just be attributed to genetics. Even if you are the owner of a Great Dane or other breed of dog predisposed to DCM, there are actions you can take as a pet owner to decrease the likelihood of DCM. Feeding your dog with a nutritious kibble each day is the first step. There are even dog foods on the market that specialize in DCM prevention.
Signs and Symptoms of DCM in Dogs
Most of the symptoms of DCM can’t be seen since the disease affects an internal organ, the heart. When the disease is present, there will be a thinning of the ventricle wall and a dilation of the ventricles themselves. This means that the heart can no longer serve as a pump, which is what it is meant to do in the first place.
You won’t be able to see the dilation of the ventricles happen before you eyes, but you’re likely to notice a few physical symptoms in your pup. The most common is coughing and wheezing, and the most severe is distention of the abdomen. Your dog might also experience heart arrhythmias.
Treatment of DCM in Dogs
As is the case with many diseases, the best treatment method is prevention. Especially if you own a dog that is a member of one of the DCM-predisposed breeds, you should focus on prevention from the moment you bring your new puppy home from the kennel.
Prevention basically just means practicing a healthy lifestyle, which you should be doing for yourself anyways. Take your dog for regular walks, choose a nutritious dog food, and love your pet unconditionally. If your dog still develops DCM later on in life, a surgical procedure might be necessary to repair the ventricles and ventricular wall.