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Old 05-26-2006, 01:38 PM
Join Date: May 2006
Location: UK
Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Sorry if this is long, but I am writing it in case it may be of some help to anyone else now or in the future, whose dog is diagnosed with DCM. I’ve tried to leave out the emotional stuff as I’m sure you can all imagine that…!

On Wednesday, our intact male rottie was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and a slightly enlarged liver. Yesterday we picked up his medication (Vetmedin 5mg, Fortekor 20. Fortekor 2.5. We’ll probably add supplements such as CoQ10, Hawthorn, L-Taurine, etc, but need to do more research re. contraindications etc.

Sadly for him, when he was 4/5 months old he got parvo (although the first vet we had at that time, finally admitted they hadn’t taken any blood from him and simply sent him home to us to die). We nursed him at home and he seemingly recovered. I understand that parvo and heart disease are often related.

Anyway, these were the symptoms he displayed in chronological order over from the Parvo to present time:

 Low stress tolerance.
 Muddy browny/red eyes.
 Increasing general food intolerance, resulting in regular upset stomach/ diarrhea.
 An increasing inability to tolerate saturated fat and salt. Although ok with olive/fish oil.
 Increasing intolerance to exercise – not wanting to run much and walking back to the car really slowly (at first we thought he just didn’t want to leave!).
 Lessening the amount of time he wants to ‘actively’ play (now about 5 mins max)
 Occasionally appearing out of breath on very little exertion.
 Lying down whenever he’s standing for more than a few minutes.

The final symptom (the day we took him back to the vet again) was a short stagger and sinking to the ground. He got up again within seconds, but was clearly unsure about what had just happened to him.

The number of times we went to the vet over the years to try to find out what was wrong with him reads ‘off the scale’. As his intolerance to stress grew, this became harder and harder as we knew he would come home and be sick for days afterwards. We changed vet practices; the vet practices changed vets; and finally we were lucky enough to get a vet, who found his liver enlarged and thought to ultrasound and EG his heart – and there it was. The left side of his heart is enlarged and his heart is currently about 35% bigger than it should be.

I suspect it’s likely we don’t have much time left with our beautiful fella, but life is a strange thing so who knows. Until then, we’re going to continue each day as before – loving him, laughing with him, hugging him and enjoying every day with him as it comes.

If anyone has any experience of DCM or knowledge of life expectancy rates from diagnosis I would be grateful to hear from you.

ps: I forgot to mention he's just turned 4.

Last edited by hohum; 05-26-2006 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 05-26-2006, 03:07 PM
spoiledbabies3's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: San Antonio, TX, USA
Images: 35
Re: Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Oh my goodness...such a young one. We have all paws crossed for your boy. Spend every possible moment with him because you never know what life has in store for you. My heart goes out to you and I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
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Old 05-26-2006, 03:18 PM
Rhea's Mom's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Sterling Heights, MI / USA
Images: 18
Re: Dilated Cardiomyopathy

I'm so sorry - I can't help you with any advice, but for what it's worth, I do know how you feel (lost my first dog - GSD - to parvo & other complications, mostly due to an incredibly incompetent and obviously not-caring vet) and my heart goes out to you and your boy. Sending lots of good thoughts and prayers your way.

[FONT="Palatino Linotype"]FAMILY - the zoo:
[FONT="Book Antiqua"]Marina[/FONT]; [FONT="Century Gothic"]Bret[/FONT]-bf; [FONT="Comic Sans MS"]Rhea[/FONT]-rottiegirl (2/10/06); [FONT="Microsoft Sans Serif"]Ozzie[/FONT] - Crazy Cat (5/31/03); [FONT="System"]Nikki[/FONT] - Princess (Ozzie's sister); [FONT="Tahoma"]Bret's mom[/FONT] (only temp - whew!); [FONT="Trebuchet MS"]Kat[/FONT] - mom's vicious little kitty![/FONT]
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Old 05-26-2006, 05:56 PM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Long Beach NY. USA
Images: 5
Re: Dilated Cardiomyopathy

I rember when my son was in college and sharing an off campus house. The kids decided to get a rottweiler. The poor boy came down with parvo. The kids had to dress in hospital greens to visit him. The pup made a recovery and lived to about 13. yrs. He was watched closely. I think that dog survived on pure love.
It was very considerate of you to post the symptoms in order. It may prove very helpful and even save a precious life.
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Old 05-26-2006, 06:11 PM
Join Date: May 2006
Location: UK
Re: Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Thank you so much for your kind thoughts and words. They are much appreciated.

I thought I should add, that we asked the vet whether he was in pain and what she thought his quality of life would be going forward. We knew we would have to make the right decision by him if her answers were in the negative.

She said she didnít believe he was in pain and that with the medication there was no reason why he shouldnít continue to have a good quality of life. She also said she thought his stomach problems were due to his heart not pumping blood properly, making his liver work less effectively, and impacting his digestion. She thought the medication would also help with this problem in addition to some new probiotics she prescribed.

Simply put, we now need to treat him as we would someone living with a heart condition, particularly in relation to diet, stress-management and exercise.

To observe him heís still the funny, brave, curious, gentle, bum-wiggling, comic rascal heís always been - with a special line in passive resistance and an irresistible fondness for slurping bare knees!
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Old 05-27-2006, 09:49 AM
Join Date: May 2006
Location: UK
Re: Dilated Cardiomyopathy

A quick update.

Blimey those tablets work fast!

Itís just like he was a clock, that was gradually winding down and someoneís wound him back up again.

We just came back from his main walk (he gets 1 main and 3 mini ones a day), and there he was trotting off ahead of us, his little sunshine bum disappearing up the path with us trotting behind to keep up with him! He was interested in everything and every now and then doing one of those little foal-gallop things. His stools looked great and his eyes are definitely clearer, although still slightly pinky.

He wants to play more, eat more (raw turkey/chicken, cooked rice & veg) and is also drinking more water (filtered).

Weíre taking one day at a time. But I have to say itís just brilliant to see him so energised again and I know he can feel the difference too.

We spent so long trying to get him diagnosed and Iím grateful to the new vet that we finally got there. I would certainly recommend that if your rottie displays similar symptoms to the ones I listed earlier, itís worth just asking your vet to check their heart.
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Old 06-01-2006, 02:17 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Silver Spring, MD USA
Images: 9
Re: Dilated Cardiomyopathy

ohhh this is bringing tears to my eyes. my rosco just turned a year and half. in the past 2 months he's collapsed twice. he will start to vomit and then fall over. all of this lasts 10 seconds. he seems to get tired fast but i thought it was just because it was getting hot out. and he often is out of breath and pants for awhile after he's laying down. the vet thinks he has heart disease and we've made an appt at the cardiologist.
i'm pretty distraught about this but i'm trying not to jump to conclusions until we know what is really going on....
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