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Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Dilated  cardiomyopathy (DCM)

is a disease of the heart muscle which causes the heart to enlarge and not function properly. The occurrence of DCM usually  increases with age and typically has an age of onset between 4 and 10 years. The cause is still unknown although many factors strongly suggest a genetic cause.

It usually affects both the left and right sides of the heart with either side being more severely affected. Typically both the lower chamber and the upper chamber enlarge and the lose their ability to contract and pump blood out to the body or the lungs. The consequence of this can be compared to a simple mechanical pump, which, if it fails, water backs up into the basement. Therefore, if the left heart fails, fluid backs up into the lungs and if the right heart fails, fluid backs up in the abdomen or in the space surrounding the lungs.

Long term prognosis varies considerably. Most dogs survive from weeks – 24 months of age upon diagnosis of DCM.

Treatment is aimed at improving the heart’s function and controlling the signs of congestive heart failure. Drugs such as Lanoxin, Digoxin and Digitalis are used to help the heart contract better. Diuretics such as Lasix (Furosemide) are used to help control and prevent accumulation of fluid in or around the lungs. Vasotec, Enacard, Zestril, Prinavil, and Lotensin are used as well to help the heart pump more effectively against the pressures of the arteries and veins. You and the dog will need to see your regular veterinarian in 7 to 10 days, in 4 weeks and then every three months to assure that kidney function is preserved. Drugs that control cardiac arrhythmias (electrical disturbances in the heart) are used as well.

It is important for you to monitor your dog’s overall attitude and outward signs so that if you notice any heavy/labored breathing, coughing, fainting spells, restlessness or profound lethargy, arrangements can be made to see your regular veterinarian quickly. Your observations the administration by you of the prescribed medications is what will help your dog the most. You know your pet the best.

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Cardiomyopathy in the Doberman breed

by Judy Doniere, Toledobes, USA

When Peggy Adamson wrote of the 7 sires all dying of Cardiomyopathy she wrote of the popular dogs on the East coast that were being used and were in many many pedigrees. However, many people were importing dogs from Germany. Some went to the West coast and a great many went to the Midwest.

If we only had 7 sires to use, the breed would be so inbred that if they all had or died of Cardio, no Dobermans would have been around several generations later.

One of the bigger Kennels was Ponchartrain in Detroit. They did use a couple of the 7 sires but they also imported many dogs. In Chicago there were many kennels that imported dogs. Few used any of the 7 sires.

We only hear of the males that were imported but a great many bitches were also imported and few of them went back to the 7 sires.

We do have lots of dogs and bitches who live to 12 and some to 15. The larger the dog (breed) the shorter the life span. Toys live into the late teens time and again.

A Doberman of 12 is an old dog. Am Ch Toledobes Serenghetti aka Sera lived to be 12 but her 2 litter brothers died at 8 from cardio. One of her aunts lived to be 17. I´ve also had a few live to 15.

I think now that we have methods of freezing semen, we should do it on any of our 2 year old dogs. By then you should know how good they are. If they live beyond 10 use them, but you can still have Cardio on a 10 yr old although the chances are good that you might get lucky.

There are no more LINES of dogs in this country. In the early years everyone linebred or inbred. That´s partly why no dogs look alike due to their genes being spread wide so that you have no idea what you´re going to get.

A few kennels have had a couple of good dogs and then they linebred and inbred them until they started going backwards since there were no more genes bringing in good qualities and they had to go completely out so now their dogs look like everyone else´s.

The dog that I know that died of Cardio and produced it because he was so line bred was Prince Kuhio. Many of his get DID live a long time but many died early. Then people in Ohio started breeding everything to him and then kept doubling up on him, so eventually their dogs started dying early of DCM. I´m sure if you trace your pedigrees back far enough, you will find him back there. Not in ALL pedigrees but enough of them to be able to pinpoint where a lot of DCM came from and yet, he does trace back to a couple of the 7 sires at least through Uranus.