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Our Library of Dog Health Articles - Heart Failure

Understanding Cardiomyopathy in dogs


Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs is a heart condition where the individual muscle fibres in the heart progressively loose their contractabilty. Consequently the heart’s pumping action is impaired leading to symptoms you may observe  as well as internal changes to the heart which of course you cannot see.  DCM is predominantly found in the larger breeds of dog.


Symptoms of DCM in dogs that you may observe  are  lethargy, reduced stamina, increased breathing rate or panting and a cough (especially on lying down). Internal changes are enlargement (dilation) of the heart in response to trying to pump more blood, retention of fluids around the body especially the lungs and risk of arythmia (irregular heart beat). DCM can develop into congestive heart failure if not treated. Congestive heart failure is the latter stage of the disease though dogs may still in many instances lead a comfortable and meaningful life for some time.


Your vet will treat your dog on at least three fronts using drugs to target the following:


Improve the contractability of heart muscle cells  ( common drug is Vetmedin)

Reduce the workload of the heart by relaxing the arteries and veins  (common drugs are

Reduce the fluid build up around the body, especially the  lungs and the cause of the cough symptom (common drugs are  spirolactone  and furosemide)


Supplements for cardiomyopathy and heart failure in dogs


The amino acids Taurine and L Carnitine have a proven role in supporting dogs with DCM.  Older dogs produce reduced amounts of these amino acids and coupled with dietary deficiencies the hearts efficiency is reduced.