Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Canine Cardiomyopathy

Like their feline counterparts, dogs also get cardiomyopathy.
Dogs, however, mostly get the dilated form of it (DCM) and RARELY get the hypertrophic form. 

The are some definite breeds that are high on the list for this:
Doberman Pinschers and Boxers are the top 2, followed by other "giant" breeds such as Irish Wolfhounds, Great Danes and then a smaller but popular breed, the cocker spaniel. This can show up from 4-10 years of age.

Signs are similar to other heart diseases: coughing, breathing changes/trouble, weakness, going off food, weight loss, collapsing and sometimes there are NO signs.  

What we find on a physical exam are often pronounced changes including: muffled heart sounds (usually indicative of fluid in the lungs), murmurs and rhythm changes. Sometimes the only thing is a very abnormal rhythm. Mostly common the abnormality is atrial fibrillation - you cannot heart any distinct heart beats because the atria are basically fluttering. Typical heart rates are in the 300 beat per minute range!!  This must be addressed immediately or the animal may die. 

Diagnosis is similar to other heart issues: xrays, ultrasound and in many cases, an EKG help to give a definite answer and to let us know how far progressed the disease is, which in turn lets us give you the long term outlook and help us decide which drugs are needed. 

These drugs include diuretics (like Lasix), bronchodilators, digoxin, and vasodilators (ACE inhibitors like enalapril).
It is also recommended to keep these dogs on a low sodium diet. There are some great veterinary formulations out there that take into account the entire dog's nutritional needs.  

A diagnosis of DCM does not bode well for the pet or the owner however. Typically they live 6 mos to 1 yr post diagnosis. Sudden death is possible. 

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