Often associated with tuarine or carnitine amino acid deficiencies or parvovirus in younger animals, an enlarged heart is a serious condition. Also known as Dilated Cardiomyopathy, this increased heart size condition may be also caused by enlarged muscles if the bodies workload increases too much. If the pet has an increased workload for quite some time, the heart muscles will increase in size to adjust to the amount of oxygenated blood the body needs, hence enlarging the muscles to support the increase in workload. Although any cat or dog breed may develop this condition, the Doberman, Sussex Spaniel, and Cocker Spaniel breeds are more susceptible to it.
Symptoms of an enlarged heart are abnormal breathing, coughing, weight loss, lethargy, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, and an enlarged abdomen. Diagnosis usually involves a heart exam and several diagnostic tests such as an electrocardiogram (EKG), radiograph, and echocardiograph. Although there is no current cure available for this condition, there are several medications that a veterinarian can prescribe your cat or dog to prolong its life. Taurine is non-toxic and may be given to your pet as a supplement if there is a deficiency in that amino acid.
To learn more about the enlarged heart condition, check out our Pet Health Concerns Guide. By enrolling your pet with Trupanion pet insurance, your cat or dog’s policy will include coverage for diagnostic tests, medications, surgeries, hereditary and congenital disorders, as long as treatment for a certain condition is required after enrolling and is not pre-existing.
Has your pet ever experienced any problems with an enlarged heart? If so, we would love to hear from you and any comments, advice, experiences, of thoughts on this condition.