As a pet owner, it is normal to feel a special connection with your furry friend. One might even say that there is an unbreakable bond between a man and a man’s best friend. It’s safe to say that loving pet owners never wish to see their pets to suffer in any way. This is why there has been so much talk about DCM and pet food and how the risk of developing this common heart disease is linked to a low-quality diet.

The Facts About Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Pets

Any pet owner with a large dog breed has probably heard of canine dilated cardiomyopathy. Large and giant breeds of canines are at the highest risk of developing this heart problem over time. When DCM is present, the heart muscle is weakened, meaning it cannot function as it normally should. The main function of the heart is to keep the blood pumping throughout the body, but this is extremely difficult for dogs – and humans – with DCM.

In short, the Veterinary Medicine Department of Washington State University says that “DCM is a disease of the heart muscle that results in weakened contractions and poor pumping ability. As the disease progresses the heart chambers become enlarged, one or more valves may leak, and signs of congestive heart failure develop.” The disease is very difficult to detect early on, so anyone owning a large dog like a Great Dane or Boxer should schedule yearly vet appointments to check for DCM.

How DCM is Diagnosed by Veterinary Professionals

A vet can have his or her suspicions about whether or not DCM is present, but the only way to officially diagnose a canine is through a series of tests. These tests include a cardiac exam using an electrocardiogram and an echocardiogram. These medical tools will allow for an official diagnosis so that the best course of treatment can be used to treat a canine.

What Are the Treatment Options for Canine DCM?

The treatment for DCM depends on how far the disease has progressed. When left untreated, the disease will eventually lead to heart failure, so treatment is 100% necessary. Of course, if a dog is 17 years old and nearing the end of life, it is up to the pet owner on how he or she would like to proceed. Medications can be administered to slow the progression, and clinical trials are using ACE inhibitors.

How Does Diet Affect the Risk of DCM?

Many studies on the increased rates of DCM are linking the disease to diet. More specifically, a low-quality diet containing harmful fillers, dyes, and preservatives play a huge role in raising the likelihood of DCM development. The main thing to remember when choosing a dog food brand is that quality beats quantity every single day.

Choose a high-quality food that is free from unnecessary – and harmful – fillers. The most common fillers in dog food are wheat and corn, and these grains can lead to tons of health problems in canines. Give a high-quality, grain-free food a try. Grain-free foods are much less likely to contain empty calories and they have been proven to offer a well-balanced diet for dogs.