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Enlarged Heart (Dilated Cardiomyopathy) in Dogs

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Treatment for DCM is heavily focused on improving the heart’s function, and on treating the symptoms of congestive heart failure. Drugs may be administered to enhance heart contraction and to slow down rapid beating, and diuretics may be used to control the accumulation of fluid in the lungs. Vasodilators, drugs that induce dilation of the blood vessels, and help the heart pump blood more effectively, are also usually part of the therapy for DCM. Except in cases where a dog is severely affected by the disease, long-term hospitalization should not be necessary.


Living and Management


Follow-up treatment for DCM will generally involve regular progress checks. Clinical examinations such as thoracic radiographs, blood pressure measurements, EKG’s and biochemical tests are all standard diagnostic tools for measuring progress.


You will also need to monitor your dog’s overall attitude, and stay alert to any outward signs of relapse, such as labored breathing, coughing, fainting, and lethargy. Despite therapy and conscientious care, most dogs with DCM have a poor prognosis. Your veterinarian will counsel you on your pet's likelihood for survival, based on the progression of the disease at the time of diagnosis, but in general, dogs with this condition are given 6 to 24 months to live. Dobermans are more severely affected by this disease, and will generally not survive longer than six months after the diagnosis is made. In this case, your veterinarian can advise you on ways in which you can make your dog's life as comfortable as possible.


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