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Canine dilated cardiomyopathy: a retrospective study of signalment, presentation and clinical findings in 369 cases



Objective: To review the clinical and diagnostic findings and survival of dilated cardiomyopathy from a large population of dogs in England.

Methods: A retrospective study of the case records of dogs with dilated cardiomyopathy collected between January 1993 and May 2006.

Results: There were 369 dogs with dilated cardiomyopathy of which all were pure-bred dogs except for four. The most commonly affected breeds were dobermanns and boxers. Over 95 per cent of dogs weighed more than 15 kg and 73 per cent were male. The median duration of signs before referral was three weeks with 65 per cent presenting in stage 3 heart failure. The most common signs were breathlessness (67 per cent) and coughing (64 per cent). The majority of dogs (89 per cent) had an arrhythmia at presentation and 74 per cent of dogs had radiographic signs of pulmonary oedema or pleural effusion. The median survival time was 19 weeks.

Clinical Significance: Dilated cardiomyopathy occurs primarily in medium to large breed pure-bred dogs, and males are more frequently affected than females. The duration of clinical signs before referral is often short and the survival times are poor. Greater awareness of affected breeds, clinical signs and diagnostic findings may help in early recognition of this disease which often has a short clinical phase.