Dilated Cardiomyopathy in the Doberman

First broadcast on June 10th 2004

This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

If you have a Doberman with DCM please refer it to the University of Liverpool School of Veterinary Medicine who are trying to determine the cause.

The University of Liverpool School of Veterinary Medicine has been awarded a Petsavers grant to study the underlying causes of Dilated Cardiomyopathy in the Doberman.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) occurs in many animal species including dogs, cats and humans, but it is particularly common in the Doberman. DCM is a serious and invariably fatal disease affecting the heart muscle. DCM causes the heart muscle to become enlarged and weakened. As the heart muscle disease progresses, fluid builds up in the lungs causing coughing and breathing difficulties (congestive  heart failure). Also, abnormal heart rhythms may occur, which can cause collapsing / fainting, or sudden death. Unfortunately, once in congestive heart failure , these Dobermans have a very poor prognosis, despite treatment with heart medications. Most affected Dobermans die within the first 3-6 months after being diagnosed with DCM.

The cause of DCM in the Doberman is currently unknown. Therefore , through this new study at Liverpool Veterinary School, we hope to identify the mechanisms underlying DCM in the Doberman (and hopefully other dog breeds), which will help us design more effective treatment strategies, to improve the quality of life and prognosis for these affected dogs.

Any Doberman, male or female, which is affected with symptomatic DCM is eligible for our study. All Dobermans enrolled onto the stud will receive free-of-charge cardiac evaluations (ECGs, heart scans and 24 hour holter monitoring) and regular check-ups at Liverpool Vet School for as long as they remain in the study. The important information that we will get from these cardiac evaluations will enable us to ensure that these dogs receive the best possible veterinary care and remain as symptom-free as possible for the remainder of their life. Inevitably, due to the severity of Doberman DCM, there will come a time when these dogs no longer respond to medical therapy and are put to sleep on humane grounds, to prevent suffering. With the owner's fully informed consent , we will then take a sample of the heart muscle tissue at post-mortem, from these dogs. The owners will be offered a private cremation free-of-charge for their pet, in respectful thanks for their participation in this very important study.

Please contact Nuala Summerfield for further information about this study and to enrol eligible dogs.

Nuala Summerfield BSc BVM&S MRCVS DipACVIM (Cardiology), Lecturer in Veterinary Cardiology, University of :Liverpool Small Animal Hospital,  Crown Street, Liverpool, L7 7EX United Kingdom.

Tel : +44 (0) 151 794 4290

Fax : +44 (0) 151 794 4304

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