If you consider yourself an avid dog lover, you might have heard a thing or two about DCM and pet food. Dilated cardiomyopathy, DCM for short, is a common heart disease in large breeds of canines. A few breeds that have been found to be predisposed to DCM include Great Danes, Newfoundlands, and Saint Bernards.

But even if you own a small dog, the risk of DCM is still there. In fact, the risk of a canine developing DCM is higher than ever. Here you can learn all the facts about the disease, what causes it, and a few things you can do to decrease the likelihood of DCM in your pet.

A Definition of Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy

According to the American Kennel Club, “Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a type of canine heart disease that affects the heart muscle. The hearts of dogs with DCM have a decreased ability to pump blood, which often results in congestive heart failure. Some breeds, especially large and giant breeds, have a predisposition to DCM.” As stated before, even small breeds (cocker spaniels in particular) can develop this condition.

The Causes of Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Up until very recently, the main thing leading to DCM was genetics. Especially for Great Danes, hereditary factors play a huge role. It is unclear why large dog breeds are more at risk, but the research all suggests that larger dogs have a much higher chance of developing DCM later on. Recently though, scientists have had to answer to the sudden increase in the number of canine DCM cases.

Over the past few years, there has been a major spike in the number of dogs developing DCM. But why? This is a question on many pet owners’ minds, especially pet owners with dogs who have a genetic predisposition to DCM. There is one common theory among researchers and scientists; the rate of DCM isn’t actually increasing, but the number of pet owners reporting it is.

This theory actually makes complete sense when you think about; the more pet owners that report DCM in their dogs, the more awareness there is. This means more and more people are learning about the disease for the first time. This, in turn, causes them to go to the vet to get things checked out, and this leads to more diagnoses of DCM.

Preventative Measures That You Can Take as a Pet Owner

Whether or not you believe the rate of DCM is actually rising, there are still some preventative measures that you can take as a pet owner. The first thing to do is understand the importance of a well-balanced diet for your dog. This means no cheap kibble, but instead, high-quality dog food that actually contains nutritional value. Many pet owners are switching to grain-free since this is a great choice for treating canine food sensitivities.

Another preventative measure is to stay active. Next time you go for a run, bring the dog along. Even if you are limited in mobility, try not to let this affect your pet too much. Sit in a chair in your back yard and throw a ball or frisbee. An active dog is a healthy one, so do your best to get your pup moving.