Cardiomyopathy In Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments

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Cardiomyopathy in dogs is a condition where the heart muscle degenerates and the heart becomes enlarged. When the muscle degenerates, the heart stops functioning properly, and this can lead to congestive heart failure. Cardiomyopathy is most common in large dogs, and it is the leading cause of heart failure in certain large breeds. Symptoms of cardiomyopathy may not appear in some dogs or may appear very suddenly and can include shortness of breath, weakness, collapse, or even sudden death. If your dog is at risk or showing signs of cardiomyopathy, consult your veterinarian immediately so they can form a proper diagnosis and begin treatment. Here is what you should know about the symptoms, causes, and treatments for cardiomyopathy in dogs.

Symptoms Of Cardiomyopathy In Dogs

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Symptoms of cardiomyopathy in dogs can vary, and some dogs do not show symptoms until the condition gets worse, and some dogs suddenly collapse or die. It is important to have regular check-ups with your veterinarian, as they may be able to find cardiomyopathy in its early stages and begin treatment. Here are some of the symptoms you might see in dogs with cardiomyopathy.

  • Shortness of breath or rapid breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Coughing
  • Distended abdomen
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Blue tongue
  • Excessive drooling
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Heart murmur

Causes Of Cardiomyopathy In Dogs

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The causes of cardiomyopathy in dogs are mostly unknown, but there are a few factors that put dogs at risk for developing the condition. The risk of cardiomyopathy increases with age, and usually the condition affects dogs between four and ten years old. It also affects male dogs more often than females. Certain breeds, especially larger dogs, are more at risk, as well. Cardiomyopathy is more common in Afghan Hounds, Boxers, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, Labrador Retrievers, Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards, Scottish Deerhounds, Cocker Spaniels, Springer Spaniels, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Evidence suggests that taurine deficiency or carnitine deficiency may contribute to the condition, too.

Treatments For Cardiomyopathy In Dogs

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A combination of drugs are typically used in the treatment of cardiomyopathy in dogs. Diuretics are used to remove excess fluid from the body, especially fluid that has accumulated in the lungs. Enzyme inhibitors may be used to reduce blood pressure and prevent the heart from being overworked. Vasodilators are drugs that dilate the arteries and veins, which can also help the heart not have to work so hard to pump blood throughout the body. Bronchodilators can be used to make it easier for dogs to breathe. Other drugs may be used, as well, so if your dog is diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, follow your veterinarian’s instructions closely.

The goal of treatment for cardiomyopathy in dogs is to reduce the risk of congestive heart failure. Some dogs respond well to medication while others do not, though beginning treatment in the early stages of the disease tends to help. Cardiomyopathy is a serious condition, and dogs who have it will need to be monitored. The prognosis for dogs with cardiomyopathy is usually not good, though your veterinarian will be able to give you more information about your specific dog if they are diagnosed with the condition.