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Enlarged Heart (Dilated Cardiomyopathy) in Cats



Treatment for DCM varies with the condition of the cat. If your cat has severe symptoms, hospitalization will be necessary. Treatment for DCM may include drugs for controlling abnormal heart rhythms, management of kidney health to prevent renal failure, treatment for low blood pressure, and treatment for complications caused by blood clots (i.e., blood thinning drugs). Hospital treatment for congestive heart failure will normally include supplemental oxygen therapy, diuretic drugs for relieving fluid retention, nitroglycerin for improving blood flow, and low dosages of dobutamine to stimulate heart contractility and cardiac output. Other drugs, such as anticoagulants (blood thinners), and beta blockers for controlling rhythm can be used to treat DCM, but their use depends on the specific problems that are secondary to the disease. Cats suffering from DCM will usually have anorexia, and because they also will need to be given a diet low in sodium, to reduce fluid stress on the heart, you will need to plan a diet that will spark your cat's interest in eating, in order to aid in its recovery. Your veterinarian will be able to help you to design a diet plan that is particular to your cat.


Living and Management


Follow up treatments are critical for cats with DCM. At about seven days after the initial treatment, your cat will need to be re-examined. A thoracic (chest) radiograph, and a chemical blood profile will be used to determine how effective the therapy is going, and whether anything needs to be changed or added to the recovery process. You must be especially vigilant with the administration of prescribed medications. Precision and continuity is essential for medicated therapy to show positive results. Examinations using echocardiograph imaging should also be performed every three to six months in order to follow the progress of the condition.


You will need to observe your cat's general activity level, appetite, and interest in things (apathy is a sign of illness), as well as watch out for any recurrence of symptoms, such as coughing or labored breathing. Despite intensive therapy and constant care, most cats with DCM have a poor prognosis for a long life. Quality of life, rather than a lengthy one, is more of a consideration with this condition. Your veterinarian will counsel you on ways in which you can provide this to your cat.

Image: VGstockstudio via Shutterstock


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