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Enlarged Heart In Dogs

Like humans, canines may also develop the condition called enlarged heart. This article helps you understand the symptoms of this condition, possible causes behind it, and what does its treatment comprise.
DogAppy Staff
Last Updated: Jan 22, 2018
Enlarged heart is a common health issue in middle-aged male canines of larger breeds. In this condition, also known as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), the heart deteriorates to a point where it ceases to pump blood throughout the body. With time, this causes fluid accumulation in the lungs, and eventually results in congestive heart failure. Statistics reveal that DCM is often diagnosed in canines in the age group of four to ten years. Experts have also found that the condition could be breed-specific, as it is commonly found in Boxer, Great Dane, Afghan Hound, Saint Bernard, and other large dog breeds.
Factors Behind Heart Enlargement in Canines
Medical experts are not sure what causes DCM. However, parvovirus, taurine deficiencies, and prolonged use of a drug called adriamycin are believed to be some major contributors in the development of the disease. Certain studies purport the fact that in some breeds, the problem might be genetic.
Main Symptoms
» Coughing and heart failure could be the main symptoms.

» Some dogs may also experience difficulty in breathing, and some may show signs such as collapsing or an enlarged abdomen.

These symptoms, however, surface at a later stage of the condition. This makes it difficult to diagnose and treat the condition while it is in an early stage.

Methods which are involved in diagnosing the problem include an X-ray examination, electrocardiography, and echocardiography.
Treating Options
Unfortunately, DCM cannot be reversed; in other words, it is incurable. The symptoms of congestive heart failure, however, can be managed with drugs, which would help prolong the life of your pet. The treatment also aids in improving the function of the animal's heart. According to what experts have come across, the survival rate or the life expectancy depends on how the body of the animal reacts to the drugs, and also on the type of the breed.

As there is no solid cure for the condition, preventing it is the best way out.

» Routine dental check-ups for your pet will ensure good dental health and prevent the onset of any heart diseases.

» A proper diet helps in keeping your pet fit and active, and it's more effective when combined with regular exercise.

» Your dog's diet, apart from containing other essential nutrients, must be rich in L-carnitine and taurine. Taurine is known to help regulate heartbeats, helps in the absorption of calcium when the oxygen levels are low, and protects the heart from calcium overload. Carnitine helps in producing energy required by the animal, by using fatty acids.

» Supplementing your dog's food with omega-3 fatty acids also aids in improving heart health, and developing shinier coat.

» Most importantly, keep an eye on the various types of symptoms of heart diseases. Apart from the aforementioned symptoms, lethargy, swollen extremities, and low energy levels may also indicate potential heart diseases.
At times, there is nothing much that can be done in order to prevent your pet from developing any kind of heart disease; in this case, heart enlargement. This is because the cause may have its source in the dog's genes, or the disease may be triggered by some unknown conditions. The best you can do is take all the required measures in order to minimize the risks of developing any illnesses, and help your pet lead a healthy life.
DisclaimerThe information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of an experienced veterinarian.
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