Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease characterized by dilation or enlargement of the heart chambers and markedly reduced contraction. The left ventricle is almost always involved. Advanced cases demonstrate dilation of all cardiac chambers.

DCM is very common in dogs, representing one of the most common reasons for congestive heart failure (CHF). This heart disease also can cause heart valve leakage resulting in heart murmurs or abnormal electrical activity of the heart—producing arrhythmias (irregular or abnormal heartbeats). Large and giant breed dogs, especially males, are predisposed. Doberman pinschers, Irish wolfhounds, Great Danes and Saint Bernards are typical examples. Spaniel breeds also develop DCM.

The clinical condition of canine DCM can range from overtly healthy (occult disease) to severe heart failure. Some dogs experience primary electrical disturbances (arrhythmia) such as atrial fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia which can lead to sudden death.

DCM is very serious and the mortality rate, even of treated cases, is very high.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy is generally diagnosed by a thorough history, physical examination, chest x-rays, electrocardiogram (EKG) and echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart).
  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Pets with dilated cardiomyopathy are treated with diuretics (furosemide and/or spironolactone), angiotension converting enzyme inhibitors (enalapril or benazapril), carvedilol or metoprolol, pimobendan, and/or digoxin. Other medications and a sodium-restricted diet may be beneficial. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.


What to Watch for*:

  • Coughing
  • Breathing problems or shortness of breath
  • Collapse
  • Poor appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Exercise intolerance

*Please notify us if you notice any of the above signs or if you have any questions!

Dear Valued Clients

During these challenging times, there have been some unforeseen changes at The Big Easy Animal Hospital. I cannot express enough my sincere apology for any inconvenience you have experienced at The Big Easy during these times. As we strive to make the practice safe to protect everyone including you, your family, and our Big Easy team and their families, I’ve decided to make certain changes while we are under this pandemic. These changes will be temporary.


Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday:
Walk Ins: Check-in starts at 9:45am.There are a limited amount of patients we can accept. Our receptionists will be happy to assist you with options to help guide you and your pet(s).)


Saturday Hours

Saturdays will be TECHNICIAN APPOINTMENTS only. These will include boosters, bloodwork, nail trims, certain diagnostics, etc. There will not be a veterinarian on site. While I understand these changes can be inconvenient, I have listed local veterinary clinics that we have contacted and are open to see walk-ins throughout the week and Saturdays as well. For life threatening emergencies that occur outside business hours, please contact the following 24-hour animal hospitals below.

Please, be safe and healthy.

Thank you all for your understanding. -Aileen Ruiz, DVM


24 Hour Emergency Care:


Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center

807 Camp Horne Road
Pittsburgh, PA



4224 Northern Pike
Monroeville, PA

VCA Castle Shannon Animal Hospital

3610 Library Road
Pittsburgh, PA

Veterinarians Accepting Walk in Care:

Penn Animal Hospital

2205 Penn Avenue

North Boros Veterinary Hospital

2255 Babcock Blvd



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