Description For Dogs: Some dogs are especially prone to a life-threatening heart condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM, in which the heart becomes so large, thin, and weak that it can no longer effectively pump blood to the body.
Description For Cats: Cardiomyopathy is actually the name for several diseases of the heart muscle: “cardio” meaning heart, “myo” meaning muscle, and “pathy” meaning pathology or abnormality. In cats, the three classes of cardiomyopathy are hypertrophic, dilated, and intermediate (restrictive). Cardiomyopathy may be a primary condition that is genetic or inherited, or a secondary result of other diseases that damage the heart. Most cats with cardiomyopathy are diagnosed with the hypertrophic form of the disease, or HCM, but Sample Breeds, particularly males, are more prone to dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM.
Dilated cardiomyopathy is fatal as it causes the heart to become overly large, thin, and weak so that it can no longer effectively pump blood to the body. DCM is caused by abnormal enlargement of the heart’s ventricles, or lower chambers of the heart. When these chambers are enlarged, the heart muscle is unable to contract hard enough to pump blood normally; blood pools in the chambers, and the heart must work extra hard to push it forward. The result is a weak, over-worked heart that is unable to adequately supply the body with blood.
What to Watch For in Dogs: She might act weak or tired, faint or collapse, breathe in a labored way, or cough.
What to Watch For in Cats: While rare, owners of at-risk cats should be watchful for the signs of DCM. Early signs such as decreased activity or weight loss may be subtle, but should be monitored carefully. The best early indicators of DCM are increased heart and respiratory rates, which should be checked for at your cat’s annual check-up.
Diagnosis For Dogs: Your veterinarian can conduct a yearly electrical heart screening (ECG) and/or an echocardiogram starting at age one to look for abnormal heart rhythms early.
Treatment For Dogs:
If found, this condition can be treated with medication and your veterinarian may also recommend dietary supplements.
Treatment For Cats: Medication can help alleviate symptoms of DCM if caught early, but unfortunately, it is still a fatal disease.
Treatment Cost: Initial examination fees vary, ranging up to $50, and additional tests can be $500 or so, on average.
Breeds prone to Cardiomyopathy include: