What is dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)?
Dilated cardiomyopathy is an acquired disease that is characterized by a markedly enlarged and weakened heart muscle. In the Doberman it affects mainly the left ventricle and left atrium. It results in electrical abnormalities (irregular or abnormal or premature beats). These electrical abnormalities may result in sudden death (described below) as the very first clue of a problem in your dog. Most dogs experience symptoms of pulmonary edema with respiratory distress. DCM is observed in dogs, cats and humans, as well as a number of other species.
Dilated cardiomyopathy is always rapidly fatal in Dobermans.
What breeds of dogs are ...view middle of the document...
This does not appear to be the case in the Doberman.
In people, viruses are suspected to cause some cases of DCM. We looked for evidence of parvo virus in Dobermans with DCM and could not find evidence of this virus.
In people, an immune mediated disorder (somewhat like rheumatoid arthritis) has been speculated to cause DCM. We looked for evidence of an immune disorder in Dobermans with DCM and could not find evidence of this process at work.
In people, about 30% of cases of DCM are familial. Sounds somewhat similar for the Doberman.
What is the incidence of DCM in the Doberman Pinscher?
Work performed at the University of Guelph has demonstrated that about 50% of all symptom free Dobermans in our area will develop/acquire DCM. Reports out of the University of Georgia indicate that about 50% of symptom free Dobermans studied there will go onto develop/manifest DCM.
Does the incidence of DCM in the Doberman Pinscher vary with the sex of the dog?
Males are more affected than females. Our work suggests that about 60% of symptom free male Dobermans in our area will develop/acquire DCM. Also about 40% of symptom free female Dobermans will go onto develop DCM.
Does the incidence of DCM vary with the coat color of the Doberman Pinscher?
Our work indicates that red and tan Dobermans are equally affected compared with black and tan Dobermans. The other two phenotypes, blue and Isabella (fawn), are too infrequently studied to be able to address the incidence in these groups.
At what age do Dobermans get DCM?
The average age that Dobermans develop symptoms of DCM is 7.5 years of age. However 25% of our dogs developed symptoms of DCM over 10 years of age.
What are the usual symptoms of DCM in the Doberman?
Dobermans may manifest one of two common symptoms related to DCM. Respiratory distress, usually noted as a cough, wheeze, or labored breathing, is the most common symptom of DCM. The next common symptom is called sudden death. In sudden death owners usually observe that their dog was running in the yard then fell over and died. They are dead within a couple minutes. One third of all Dobermans destined to develop/acquire DCM will experience sudden death as the first symptom of their disease. A few dogs are noted to demonstrate a loss of stamina (also called exercise intolerance) as the main sign of DCM.
What is sudden death in Doberman Pinschers?
Sudden death is a common symptom of DCM in otherwise symptom free Doberman Pinschers. We presume that the dog developed a severe rhythm disturbance (ventricular fibrillation) which resulted in essentially no output from the heart and subsequent death. Sudden death is death that occurred within one hour of what appeared to be a stable individual. Essentially sudden death represents unexpected death.
Sudden death is the first and thus only symptom of DCM in one third of all Dobermans destined to develop/acquire DCM....