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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A little over a month ago we took our dog in to the vet due to a partial ACL tear. Some abnormalities showed up in his routine bloodwork when he went in for xrays of his knee. We redid the bloodwork in two weeks and his cardiac enzymes were still very high so we scheduled him for an ECG/Ultrasound to see what was going on with his heart.

The results were ambiguous. His heart was on the very borderline of what could be considered normal. The contractility was a hair abnormal. There were some very mild structural abnormalities. Any one thing, our vet said he would not have been concerned about because they were so mild, but put them all together and he is concerned that our dog could have dilated cardiomyopathy, but the results are far from conclusive.

If he indeed does, it is still in the "occult" phase as he has no clinical symptoms, which is largely why we were in so much shock to receive this news. Colt is a 3 year-old, extremely active, very fit, male chesapeake bay retriever. I read all sorts of posts about symptoms of heart disease in dogs. NOT ONE of them applied to him. Not one. But that's why it's called the "occult" phase, its when structural abnormalities are present, but have not yet caused clinical signs.

So I did a bunch of reading on DCM. And then I did a lot of crying, because the truth of it is, if this is what he has, it is just a matter of time before he dies of heart failure. But we're not giving up.

Currently Colt is on Enarcard (Enalapril, an ACE inhibitor) Pimobendan (Vetmedin, strengthens the heart muscle and dilates blood vessels) as well as Omega 3 fish oil, Coenzyme Q10, and L-Carnitine. At this point in time no exercise or sodium restrictions have been put in place. The vet does not feel it is necessary as the results are equivocal and he is showing no exercise intolerance. Quite the opposite, he is showing a definite "rest intolerance" as we try to heal the ligament in his knee, but what do you expect in a high-energy, active young dog... that is however, another story.

In six months he will go for another ECG/Ultrasound to check if there has been any progression and if so how much. At that time we will have a much better idea what Colt's long-term outlook will be. Of course, as his results were equivocal, I am hoping that there are no further changes and that the tentative diagnosis is wrong. That is our best-case scenario.

In the mean time, he had bloodwork done a week after starting the medications to make sure that his kidneys were not having any issues with them. Kidneys were fine, and his cardiac enzymes were down 10%. I spoke to the locum vet (as our regular vet was on holidays.) She said that it was positive to see even a 10% decrease in such a short period of time, and that it means while his heart is still under stress and strain, it is less so than before. I will speak more with our regular vet when he returns.

The waiting and not knowing is so hard. Has anyone else been through this? Does anyone have any encouraging stories to share? Things that presented like occult DCM and turned out to be something else? Dogs that lived a good full life after a diagnosis of occult DCM with clinical signs not showing up until much later in life?
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