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What Is Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)?

DCM, also called Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) or sometimes Diet Associated Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease that affect dogs' heart muscles, weakening them and lowering their ability to effectively pump blood.

Left untreated, the condition can be dangerous or even deadly.

What Causes DCM?

There is, as yet, no definitive cause identified for DCM, and several factors including genetics, past infections, diet and environmental factors are thought to contribute to DCM in dogs.

Which Breeds Get DCM?

Any breed can potentially develop DCM, but there are some breeds that are more prone to the condition, including:

Doberman Pinschers

Great Danes


Cocker Spaniels

But just because your dog is not on the list of predisposed breeds does not mean it's in the clear. You should always refer any concerns to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

How Is DCM Diagnosed?

DCM is diagnosed by echocardiogram. If your dog has been showing signs of lethargy, weakness or unexplained weight loss, your veterinarian may listen to their heart, and if there is any abnormality, they will probably order an echo. This will show them if there are any structural changes to the heart, which is the definitive sign of DCM in dogs.

Diet and DCM

There's no proof that every case of DCM is diet related, but there have been higher incidences of this condition in dogs that eat certain kinds of food. Some breeds, like Cocker Spaniels, have a proven sensitivity to taurine in their food. There is also some evidence that grain free foods are more likely to be fed to dogs that are diagnosed with DCM.

If your dog is diagnosed in DCM, diet will probably be one of the things your vet discusses with you to prevent further damage and possibly even reverse the damage that has already occurred. If your veterinarian does recommend any particular diet for DCM, it's an important part of the treatment, and you should follow their recommendations closely.

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