Dilated cardiomyopathy (veterinary medicine)

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The dilated cardiomyopathies ( DKM for short or DCM , from English dilated cardiomyopathy ) occur in veterinary medicine in particular in dogs , cats and cattle , the pathogenesis and / or the respective inheritance differing depending on the species. This is a damage to the heart muscle in which its wall thickness and contraction force decrease and the heart simultaneously increases in size (dilation). This reduces the efficiency of the heart, which can lead to death if the disease progresses.


Dilated cardiomyopathies occur in several dog breeds, although the inheritance and course of the disease can differ between the individual breeds. The following are particularly affected:

In the above breeds, the DCM has a genetic and hereditary basis. In the American Cocker Spaniel , and rarely also in the English Cocker Spaniel , a non-hereditary dilated cardiomyopathy as a result of a deficiency in L-carnitine has been described.

Histopathologically , two forms of hereditary DCM can be distinguished in dogs: fibrous-fatty infiltration , which occurs in Doberman and Boxer, and attenuated wavy fibers (thin, wavy myofibrils ), which occurs in giant breeds. It is very likely that these two types of DCM have different pathogenesis.

Ascites due to right heart failure in a King Charles Spaniel

Clinically, the disease only emerges when the heart's compensatory mechanisms are no longer sufficient to maintain blood circulation. Before that, in the occult phase , only cardiac ultrasound and, above all, in the DCM of the Doberman, ventricular extrasystoles can be detected in the long-term ECG . In the further course there is an enlargement of the heart, which can be demonstrated radiologically using the Vertebral Heart Score . In the clinical stage , either pulmonary edema , ascites or syncope occur.

Mainly pimobendan and furosemide are used for therapy , possibly also ACE inhibitors and spironolactone . Digoxin or diltiazem are used for atrial fibrillation , lidocaine , mexiletine , sotalol , amiodarone or beta blockers for ventricular tachyarrhythmias . The administration of omega-3 fatty acids can have a positive effect on the course of the disease in some forms of DCM.


In most cases, dilated cardiomyopathy in cats is not hereditary, but rather a consequence of a taurine deficiency . It has been observed very rarely since the introduction of commercially available cat food and usually responds well to the administration of taurine.

In contrast, cat hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is either hereditary or secondary to hyperthyroidism .


Hereditary dilated cardiomyopathy has been described in the Red Holstein breed and its crossbreeds.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Michel Deinert: Therapy and prognosis of the DCM of the dog. In: VeterinärSpiegel 3 (2011), pp. 107–112.
  2. Chris Little: Essential omega-3 fatty acids in dietary therapy for heart disease. In: Kleintiermedizin 13 (2010), pp. 1–3
  3. PD Pion et al .: Myocardial failure in cats associated with low plasma taurine: A reversible cardiomyopathy. Science 237 (1987) 764 f.