Prognosis for Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs

Dilated cardiomyopathy is one of the leading causes of congestive heart failure in all dogs. It is common in comparison with many other heart conditions, and it is oftentimes fatal if left untreated. This condition can come about for a number of reasons, although it is believed that there may be some genetic link that predisposes certain dogs and breeds to dilated cardiomyopathy.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy Overview

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a condition in which one or more chambers of the heart expand beyond their normal levels. This typically includes the left ventricle. The result is that the heart becomes too large, and the contraction as it beats is more difficult to do. You'll also likely see that the heart doesn't contract fully anyway, which causes a number of circulatory problems and other issues as well. Large breeds of dogs are much more likely to suffer from this condition, and male dogs are more likely to have dilated cardiomyopathy than female dogs are.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy Prognosis

There are a number of different measures that you can take to help your pet to deal with his dilated cardiomyopathy. It's important to first realize that pets suffering from this condition are not necessarily facing a negative prognosis. Some dogs may have mild cardiomyopathies and live relatively normal lives; it's possible that this condition can go unnoticed for months or even years at a time. However, because dilated cardiomyopathy can actually be fatal as well, it's crucial that you take the proper measures to address the condition as quickly as you can.

Dogs with dilated cardiomyopathy should be given a set of medicines including certain enzyme inhibitors and diuretics. This regimen of medicine will help to stabilize the heart size and allow for proper expansion and contraction. Additionally, if your pet has dilated cardiomyopathy, you should plan to adjust his diet with the help of your vet. Dogs with this condition should be on low sodium diets. Foods that contain spironolactone, a particular type of enzyme inhibitor, may be very helpful to include in your pet's diet or as a supplement.

Other Information Regarding Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Watch out for the symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy in your dog. They may strike at any time, and generally begin gradually and then get more severe. The earlier that you can detect the problem and help your pet to receive the treatment that he needs, the better his chances for survival and for living a continued and healthy life will be. The major warning signs of dilated cardiomyopathy include the following:

  • Breathing difficulties and shortness of breath
  • Abdomen distension
  • Difficulty running, walking or exercising
  • Lethargy
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Collapse or loss of consciousness
  • Loss of appetite

Take your pet in to the vet for immediate examination as soon as you recognize any of these symptoms or if you're suspicious about any behaviors that your dog presents. For more information about dilated cardiomyopathy and the prognosis for your particular pet, ask a vet.