Arrhythmic Cardiomyopathy in Dogs: A Quick Guide What Is Arrhythmic Cardiomyopathy in Dogs and Its Available Treatment Options

Arrhythmic Cardiomyopathy in Dogs: A Quick Guide

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In this article, we will take you through Arrhythmic cardiomyopathy (ACM) disease in dogs and its best treatment options.

Arrhythmic cardiomyopathy (ACM) is a heart disease that affects dogs. The condition can cause the heart to beat irregularly, leading to blood clots and arrhythmias. 

According to British Veterinary Association (BVA), cardiac arrhythmias have been reported in 3.2% of the dog population and 39.5% of dogs referred for cardiac and ECG evaluation.

This article will provide you with information about the specific symptoms of arrhythmic cardiomyopathy in dogs, as well as treatment options.

What Is Arrhythmic Cardiomyopathy

Arrhythmic cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle. It causes abnormal heart rhythms, which can lead to sudden death. Most dogs with arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy are born with it. 

According to East Coast Veterinary Cardiology, certain breeds of dogs are more prone to developing arrhythmic cardiomyopathy, with Boxer being the most commonly affected breed.

It's caused by a genetic mutation that affects the way their heart muscles function. In some cases, there may be no family history of this condition and it is acquired later in life due to another medical problem or injury.

Types of Arrhythmic Cardiomyopathy

There are many types of arrhythmia, including:

  • Catecholaminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia (CPVT)

  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

  • Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD)

Symptoms of Arrhythmic Cardiomyopathy

As the name suggests, arrhythmic cardiomyopathy is characterized by irregular heartbeats. There are many types of arrhythmia, but one that affects the heart is ventricular tachycardia (VT), which occurs when the upper chambers of your dog’s heart beat too quickly.

As a result, dogs with this condition may experience symptoms like:

  • Shortness of breath

  • Weakness or fatigue

  • Fainting (syncope)

  • Restlessness and hyperactivity (tremors)

Causes of Arrhythmic Cardiomyopathy

There are multiple causes of arrhythmic cardiomyopathy. For example, some dogs will develop the disease after being infected with a virus or bacteria. Some breeds are more prone to developing arrhythmias due to heredity than others. 

In other cases, there may be an underlying disease that triggers the development of this condition. For example, an overdose of heartworm prevention drugs given for an extended time can cause an increased risk of cardiac arrhythmias. 

If you are giving your dog any regular medication like Heartgard Plus, consult the dosage with your doctor first.

Diagnosing Arrhythmic Cardiomyopathy

According to Pet Health Network, an estimated 7.8 million dogs in America have heart disease, arrhythmic cardiomyopathy being one of them.

Arrhythmic cardiomyopathy can be diagnosed in many ways. The most common form of diagnosis involves a physical exam, cardiac ultrasound, and electrocardiogram (ECG). 

In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend a cardiac catheterization to get an even better look at your dog's heart.

Treating Arrhythmic Cardiomyopathy

Arrhythmic cardiomyopathy can be treated with medication, surgery, and other options. Your veterinarian will recommend a treatment plan that's best for your dog's situation. 

Medication: If your dog has no heart failure symptoms and an arrhythmia is the only problem, you'll need to take him to see a cardiologist. The cardiologist will put him on pet medication that slows down his heartbeat so that it's not as irregular. All Arrhythmic Cardiomyopathy medications are easily available at pet meds online stores.

Surgery: If your dog has severe symptoms like heart failure or severe arrhythmias that have caused his heart rate to go too fast (tachycardia), he may need surgery to repair or replace his electrical system. This will slow down his heartbeat back to normal ranges again. You can manage post-operative surgery with regular pain relief like Rimadyl for dogs.


And with that, we've covered the basics of arrhythmic cardiomyopathy in dogs. This condition is complicated, but it's important to understand because it can be life-threatening for your pup. 

If you're worried about your dog and want more information, speak with a veterinarian immediately.

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