Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM): Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Aimee Beck
5 min readDec 30, 2022

When your dog has dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), his heart can no longer maintain enough pressure to properly pump blood through his vascular system to the rest of his body. It’s a very dangerous-often fatal-disease among medium and large sized dogs. In fact, it’s the most common cause of heart failure in certain large breed dogs.

Before we get into the more complex details about DCM, let’s break it down into simpler terms.

  • Cardiac (or cardio) means relating to the heart.
  • Myopathy refers to diseases that affect skeletal muscles.
  • Cardiomyopathy means degeneration of the heart muscles.

When this happens, the heart muscle wall-primarily the thick muscle wall of the left ventricle-becomes thinner and stretches under the pressure of blood flow, which causes the heart to become enlarged. This condition is called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

What Causes Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy?

The definitive cause of canine dilated cardiomyopathy is up for debate, however, nutritional, infectious, and genetic predisposition could be key factors.

Small dogs rarely develop DCM, and it’s more common in males than females. Canine…



Aimee Beck

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