Heart Muscle Disease In Dogs; Cardiomyopathy And Myocarditis

Cardiomyopathy In Dogs refers to any ailment that mainly affects the cardiac muscle. Cardiomyopathy in Animals is a disease without a known origin, and is not the result of any comprehensive or major heart disease. There are a number of cardiomyopathy diseases in animals, though dilated cardiomyopathy is the single form normally found in dogs. This condition might also flare up due to other diseases. If so, then they become known as secondary myocardial diseases.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy

This is a disease that brings about the gradually decreases the cardiac muscle’s capacity to contract. The cause is still unknown. It has an extensive initial stage in dogs, where there are no symptoms displayed. Signs then come to light for a moderately brief duration.

Dilated cardiomyopathy tends to be the most widespread heart diseases a dog can acquire, only outdone by degenerative valve disease and heartworm disease. The ailment is characteristically seen in middle-aged dogs, with the males more affected than females. Large-breed dogs are commonly affected. A few large-breed dogs that are predominantly at peril include Irish Wolfhounds, Labrador Retrievers, Boxers, Scottish Deerhounds, Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, Newfoundland, German Shepherds and Saint Bernard.

The symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy may be dependent on breed. These include episodes of fatigue or falling down, loss of consciousness, breathing trouble, coughing, immobility, and build up of fluid in the chest or stomach.

A slight heart murmur might be audible when a veterinary examination is conducted. A heartbeat felt in the thigh area may be feeble, and an arrhythmia may be detected. Chest x-rays are useful in showing enlargement of the heart possible fluid in the lungs. A lot of veterinarians regard echocardiography (ultrasonography) as the model technique to detect dilated cardiomyopathy.

The goals of treatment are to regulate the blocking and fluid accumulation through the use of diuretics, boost the capacity of the heart to contract, and decrease unpleasant effects of hormonal variations.

Some forms of cardiomyopathy are due to a deficiency of a certain enzyme or amino acid, thus treatment involves providing the missing elements. Myocardial failure resulting from a taurine (an amino acid) deficiency is prevalent in Golden Retrievers, Dalmatians, Tibetan Terriers, Welsh Corgis, American Cocker Spaniels and some other breeds. Reaction to taurine supplements is usually positive, thus eliminating the need for alternate heart medications. Fish oil may diminish the severity of mass and muscle loss in dogs with dilated cardiomyopathy. Your veterinarian will propose a treatment regimen that will solve your dog’s problems.

Congestive heart failure could be quite severe, and frequently necessitates appropriate treatment. Once the fluid accumulation issue has been solved, your veterinarian will probably prescribe medications to aid the heart’s capacity to function. Anti-arrhythmic treatment is normally given, more so for Doberman Pinschers and Boxers suffering from severe arrhythmias.

However, most Doberman Pinschers don’t survive the condition. Around 65% of those diagnosed with heart failure die within 8 weeks. Dogs suffering from severe heart failure, especially left-sided congestive heart failure, rarely survive as compared to those with milder signs or signs of right-sided congestive heart failure. Other breeds have a more positive outlook; though the situation isn’t very hopeful—75% die within 6 months of diagnosis. Patients that are taurine or carnitine-responsive develop a good prognosis as soon as congestive heart failure symptoms diminish

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

This condition is a heart muscle disorder in which the left ventricle walls become thicker and rigid. This causes reduced blood flow and volume, build up of fluid in the chest and lungs, and the creation of blood clots. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy tends to be quite uncommon in dogs. Signs may be similar to those of heart failure e.g. coughing, breathing problems, fainting, and paralysis of the rear legs. There are times when no signs are noted. Possible medical treatments are drugs to alleviate congestive heart failure symptoms, re-establish heart muscle function, and stop blood clots.

Myocarditis In Dogs

This can be both a confined or pervasive irritation of the heart muscle, with deterioration or death of the heart muscle cells. The causative agents are numerous, such as viruses like the canine parvovirus, bacteria like Borrelia burgdorferi, and protozoa like Trypanosoma cruzi. Lack of minerals e.g. selenium, or iron can also lead to deterioration of the heart muscle. Lack of vitamin E or selenium may result in death of the heart muscle. There are specific antibiotics and plant poisons that also cause myocarditis.

Symptoms are comparable to those of congestive heart failure such as heart murmurs and arrhythmias. For proper diagnosis, your veterinarian may ask for an echocardiography (ultrasonography) and certain blood tests.

Treatment is focussed on boosting the heart’s ability to contract, relieving congestion and regulating the constriction of blood vessels, which can elevate blood pressure. Your veterinarian should be able to recommend the most fitting drug combination for the affected dog.

Alternate Reasons for Heart Muscle Failure

Atrial standstill is a form of cardiomyopathy that damages the atriums muscular wall. It even destroys the muscle wall of the ventricle in some dogs, ultimately resulting in heart muscle failure. The condition has been discovered in German Shorthaired Pointers, Shih Tzu, Old English Sheepdogs, English Springer Spaniels and mixed-breed dogs.

Symptoms are comparable to those of dilated cardiomyopathy, with heart failure being detected. Although treatment is akin to that prescribed for other heart muscle failure disorders, it may prove to be ineffective. Implanting a pacemaker could boost heart pace and flow of blood.

Endocardial fibroelastosis is an ailment whose cause is unknown, yet results in thickening of the mitral valve, slight membranous inside layer of the left atrium, and left side ventricle. It is not a common cause of heart muscle failure in young dogs. Breeds prone to this disease include Springer Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, Pit Bull Terriers, Great Danes, Boxers, and English Bulldogs. Symptoms, mode of management, and outlook are comparable to those for dilated cardiomyopathy.

Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy is an infrequent reason for heart muscle failure in dogs. It is limited mainly to the right side of the heart, but may also include the left ventricle. Its main feature is a fibrous and fatty muscle of the right ventricle, resulting in gradual heart muscle failure. Breathing problems, high breathing rate, loss of consciousness, loss of appetite and exhaustion can also be displayed. Treatment is akin to that for dilated cardiomyopathy.

Duchenne’s cardiomyopathy is a hereditary disorder linked to the X chromosome. It has been noted in dogs, mainly Golden Retrievers. A related disease, known as X-linked muscular dystrophy, is common in Irish Terriers, Samoyeds, and Rottweiler breeds. These diseases affect heart muscle, nerve and muscle tissue all over the body. Changes in tissues frequently develop by 6 to 7 months of age and diminish in magnitude during the next 2 years. Survivors usually develop heart muscle failure.

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