Ranked among the most common heart diseases, cardiomyopathy in dogs is a very serious condition.
There are different forms of cardiomyopathy in dogs. They vary according to the causes, symptoms, and their severity, but they all have in common the involvement of the myocardium, which is none other than the muscle of the heart. Unfortunately, the prognosis for recovery is often poor and the life expectancy of the sick dog is rather short.
Cardiomyopathy, broadly defined, is a disease affecting the myocardium, the muscle tissue of the heart. In dogs, this term generally refers to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).
Dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs is characterized by a deficit in the contractility of heart muscle tissue, associated with a reduction in the thickness of the walls of the heart and dilation of the heart chambers.
Because the heart suffers from insufficient contraction, blood is returned from this organ only in reduced flow, which results in poor oxygenation of the organs. At the same time, the blood tends to accumulate in the cardiac chambers, because poorly insufficiently expelled, which results in the dilation of the latter.
The origins of cardiomyopathy in dogs
The root causes of cardiomyopathy in dogs are still poorly understood. What seems to be taken for granted, however, is that this disease is inherited, since certain canine breeds have a predisposition. These are usually large dogs, like the Great Dane, Doberman Pinscher, and Irish Wolfhounds, but also medium-sized breeds like the Golden Retriever and Boxer.
Symptoms and consequences
Dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs is not easy to diagnose, as it may not present with clear or specific symptoms. Indeed, fatigue, weight loss, and loss of consciousness caused by the disease can give rise to a wide variety of interpretations, without the CMD being necessarily suspected at the outset.
Anyway, other signs can help guide the veterinarian’s diagnosis towards the track of cardiomyopathy, such as an abnormal increase in the volume of the abdomen, a consequence of the accumulation of fluid in it.
Cardiac arrhythmia and weak pulse are also part of the effects, and therefore signs, of canine cardiomyopathy, as are difficulty breathing and coughing, often associated with pulmonary edema (fluid build-up in the lungs due to backflow of blood, itself caused by the loss of tightness of the heart valves).
To make the diagnosis, the veterinarian can use different procedures: electrocardiogram, chest x-ray, echocardiography, Doppler, etc. These techniques make it possible to detect the symptoms mentioned above.
The dog does not get over it
The chances of a dog with CMD curing are almost nil. Usually, death occurs after a few months, or even well before (sudden death).
There is currently no cure for it. Veterinary care aims mainly to improve the quality of life of the animal, by acting on the cardiac insufficiency linked to the CMD (oxygen therapy, rest…).