When discussing canine dilated cardiomyopathy, DCM for short, the question above is common among pet owners. Before we get into the answers of whether or not DCM screening is necessary for every canine once it reaches a certain age, let’s first cover some DCM basics.
DCM is a heart-related disease that affects how the organ pumps blood throughout the body. Dogs affected by DCM will experience a weakening of the lower-left ventricle muscles, which is the part of the heart that is responsible for pumping blood. When these muscles become weak, the heart natural enters an enlargened state.
When the organ becomes enlarged, it is more able to do its job, but this is just a quick fix and not one that can sustain a dog for the rest of its life. Your dog might be suffering from the early stages of DCM without you even knowing. This is where a DCM screening comes into play. But the real question is, is DCM screening necessary for all canine owners?
The short answer is “No”…
Not all pet owners need to worry about investing in regular DCM screening from your local veterinary professional. But some pet owners should definitely consider investing in a DCM screening once their pets reach a certain age. The main thing a pet owner needs to know is that DCM is much more likely to occur in some dog breeds than others. You really only need to be concerned if you own a dog that falls within one of the DCM-predisposed breeds.
A source from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University says that “breeds predisposed to DCM include the Doberman Pinscher, the Great Dane, the Boxer, and the Cocker Spaniel. Dietary carnitine deficiency may play a role in some cases of Boxer DCM, and taurine responsive DCM has been identified in Cocker Spaniels.”
When it’s time to have your dog screened for DCM
The main reason to have your dog screened is if you have a pup that is one of the breeds listed above. Another reason is if DCM runs in your dog’s family, but this is often difficult to know, especially if you brought your puppy home from the shelter or pound. Yet another reason for a DCM screening is if your dog is experiencing any of the common signs and symptoms of DCM, which we will talk about next.
Sign and Symptoms of DCM
The most common symptoms of DCM are coughing and wheezing. This is caused by the enlargening of the heart’s ventricles, which can eventually lead to congestive heart failure and a buildup of fluid in the lungs. Another symptom is pale gums, so give your dog’s teeth a quick look-over every now and then.
If the screening for DCM wasn’t so costly and complex, we would say that you should 100% go ahead and do it. But since the price tag of screening is quite high, only certain pet owners need to go through the process. So, if your dog has a genetic predisposition or is suffering from the common DCM symptoms, it’s time to schedule an appointment with the vet.