The Doberman and Dilated Cardiomyopathy: Recognition and Prevention”

Dog owner question

"Hi! I have a Doberman and I am concerned that I have heard their breed is often prone to dilated cardiomyopathy. What signs should I look out for and how could this disease be prevented or treated?"

Veterinarian's reply

"Hi! You are so right to be proactive and take care of your dog! Dobermans are indeed more susceptible to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), which is a disease of the heart muscles that reduces the heart's ability to circulate blood throughout the body.

Symptoms of DCM may be mild or unnoticeable in the early stages, but as the disease progresses, you may notice signs such as lethargy, weakness, weight loss, coughing, shortness of breath, rapid or irregular heartbeat, collapse or loss of consciousness.

Remember, these symptoms can also indicate other illnesses, so it is important that if you notice any of them, take your dog to the vet immediately!

DCM is usually diagnosed by your vet, who may use an echocardiogram and ECG to assess the function and structure of the heart. Blood and urine tests may also be done to rule out other diseases.

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Unfortunately, prevention of DCM is difficult because the disease is largely genetic.

However, there are a few things you can do to keep your Doberman healthy!

First, regular veterinary examinations allow early detection of the disease, which can increase the success rate of treatment. These tests may include ultrasound scans of the heart, blood pressure measurements and laboratory tests.

A healthy diet and regular exercise are also important to maintain a healthy heart, but it is important not to over-exert your dog, especially if he is showing signs of any heart disease.

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If your dog has been diagnosed with DCM, your vet is likely to recommend a course of medication, which may include a range of drugs including ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers and diuretics.

These medications can help the heart function, reduce symptoms and improve your dog's quality of life. In severe cases, pacemaker implantation may be necessary.

Although DCM is a serious disease, many Dobermans can live long, happy lives with proper treatment and care. Always be vigilant about your dog's health and behaviour and see your vet if you have any concerns."