Do you test your pet for DCM? - Doberman Forum : Doberman Breed Dog Forums
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View Poll Results: Do you test your PET doberman for DCM?
Yes - echo and/or holter yearly 24 58.54%
Yes but not yearly 4 9.76%
No 13 31.71%
Voters: 41. You may not vote on this poll

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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-08-2012, 11:31 PM Thread Starter
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Do you test your pet for DCM?

Dakota will be 2 in June and I'm debating enrolling her in a cardio study. We're moving to Guelph in a few weeks and it just so happens that our new landlord works at the U of G and is involved in the xray process(which would be the echo test? I'm a noob) - could I ask for more of a sign?

I'm curious as to how many pet owners test for DCM and why or why not. There is no question that it should be done for any dog in a breeding program but as a pet owner I'm trying to weigh the benefits against the cost. If DCM could be treated and cured I would be all for testing my pet, but as it is fatal I am wondering if it's worth it or not, and if caught early how long could her life be prolonged. Is it beneficial to the doberman breed as a whole to have dobes of all origins involved in the study? Why/why not? Also I'm sure I can just talk to my new landlord about this but could anyone give me an indication of the cost of the study. For some reason I have $500 in my head but I have no clue if that's accurate.
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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-08-2012, 11:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakotadobe View Post
Dakota will be 2 in June and I'm debating enrolling her in a cardio study. We're moving to Guelph in a few weeks and it just so happens that our new landlord works at the U of G and is involved in the xray process(which would be the echo test? I'm a noob) - could I ask for more of a sign?

I'm curious as to how many pet owners test for DCM and why or why not. There is no question that it should be done for any dog in a breeding program but as a pet owner I'm trying to weigh the benefits against the cost. If DCM could be treated and cured I would be all for testing my pet, but as it is fatal I am wondering if it's worth it or not, and if caught early how long could her life be prolonged. Is it beneficial to the doberman breed as a whole to have dobes of all origins involved in the study? Why/why not? Also I'm sure I can just talk to my new landlord about this but could anyone give me an indication of the cost of the study. For some reason I have $500 in my head but I have no clue if that's accurate.
I actually think the DCM testing we have today is of far more value for the well being of the individual dog (pet or breeding stock, that doesn't matter) than it does as a breeding tool. While there's *some* value in testing breeding stock, we don't have the science to really do definitive testing.

There *is* value in early diagnosis through testing in terms of extending lifespan with treatment. Depending on how early you catch things, you could be looking at 2 or 3 more years, possibly more.

In terms of research and hope for better testing in the future, every doberman from any origin can provide useful data.

So yes, every doberman in this house is tested annually for DCM with holters and echoes. After age 5, they get tested twice a year.
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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 06:31 AM Thread Starter
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Oh wow, I didn't realize it could potentially give them a few more years. I thought more in the realm of a few months, so I'm glad I asked. Why test twice a year after age 5? Are they more likely to get DCM at that age?
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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 07:53 AM
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Yes yes ! test every year ! breeding dog or not! If they catch it early They can extend the dogs life. My boy got almost 3 more yrs and they were 3 great yrs. He never saw a bad day until the weekend I let him go.
Why Guelph is different then other cardio testing is that when you go they dont just look at the heart and see if its normal range ,they measure the heart and write it down in your dogs chart. So each year when its done they compare the numbers of each yr to see if there's any change in size. So by doing this they can pick up the smallest enlargement ;-)
I Highly recommend it to any person with a doberman. There is NO line that is free of it somewhere. Its NOT a line problem its a BREED problem.
Good luck ;-)


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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 07:56 AM
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Yes, yes, yes, and yes!!! Read Baron's thread: Baron has DCM

By testing him last year and finding he had lots of VPC's and getting him meds, I know we have added years to his life. Now, maybe not all Dobes will respond to meds as well as Baron did but it is certainly worth trying. His numbers went from 987 to 4 in that year!

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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 08:14 AM
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People drive hours, or participate in groups that are affiliated with Guleph for the opportunity to be involved. You are lucky that it's in your backyard! Definitely go.
IT's the chance to help other dogs with the study and the chance to gift your own dog with top of the line treatment and extra years should you encounter the disease. I have nothing but AMAZING things to say about U of Guelph. Their entire facility is world class.
Strider was with the oncology dept for almost 2 years.

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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 08:37 AM
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I couldnt vote because I have never had Rupert tested, but I plan to get him tested in the future



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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 08:45 AM
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I couldnt vote because I have never had Rupert tested, but I plan to get him tested in the future
Same here, i'm starting with the dna test for a small glimpse of where she lies and then doing full workups yearly starting next year when she is 3, this year is about hips and elbows

With what I know of her lines health and longevity wise I am not too worried, but even a healthy line has those few that aren't so I'd like to know where she stands.

Why deny yourself or researchers information on their health status when it's right in your backyard ya know

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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 10:19 AM
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Yes, Janelle, I would encourage you to definitely get Dakota tested.. She is your heart dog and even if she tests positive, that would give you time to prolong her wonderful life and give her comfort.
As you know Sofia is a rescue as well and we have no way of knowing what their health history is. There is no such testing available where we live. But I would certainly have it done if it were.
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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 11:37 AM
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Quote:
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Oh wow, I didn't realize it could potentially give them a few more years. I thought more in the realm of a few months, so I'm glad I asked. Why test twice a year after age 5? Are they more likely to get DCM at that age?
If you don't find out the dog has DCM until they're in congestive heart failure (end stage of the disease), then you're lucky to get a few months. The whole point of testing is to find out LONG before that point-then you do have the best chance of extending lifespan for a significant amount of time.

While there definitely are dogs who are diagnosed with DCM much too young, the average age of onset is 7. So it just seems prudent to test a little more often after age 5, as you approach "the danger age". Testing prior to 5 can catch those dogs who develop the disease early (and we've had board members whose dogs have been diagnosed at age 3-4.)
It also provides baseline values so you can catch the earliest possible changes.
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post #11 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 11:40 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the responses! Well that makes it an easy choice, I'll be signing her up asap. I knew Guelph was good, just not how good apparently. I'd be a fool not to have her tested when it is right in my backyard. When I read the DCM stories on here, my heart breaks for each and every one of you who have been affected by it. I'm not a sappy person but the thought of losing my girl so suddenly can make me instantly burst into tears. I know I'm preaching to the choir.
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post #12 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 12:00 PM
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My last dog was tested at the age of almost 8 with just an EKG. The vet picked up some arrhythmias which were not clinically obvious yet, put her on various medications, and she lived in good health until almost 10 years old.

Now I've been told that, according to at least one study, the EKG (which can be done in an ordinary vets office fairly cheaply) is of little to no value, but that other more involved testing would only be available at a cardiologist's office (of course, bigger bucks and more difficult to get to).

I know the EKG is not the best test for DCM, but has anyone heard its current status in diagnosis and following the course of the disease?
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post #13 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 12:07 PM
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Cost of an echo at Guelph's heart program, as of last year, was $100, which is waaaay cheaper than most (all?) other places.

I remember the thread you started when you were looking for a place. I gather that your search was successful. Congratulations.
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post #14 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 12:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by melbrod View Post
My last dog was tested at the age of almost 8 with just an EKG. The vet picked up some arrhythmias which were not clinically obvious yet, put her on various medications, and she lived in good health until almost 10 years old.

Now I've been told that, according to at least one study, the EKG (which can be done in an ordinary vets office fairly cheaply) is of little to no value, but that other more involved testing would only be available at a cardiologist's office (of course, bigger bucks and more difficult to get to).

I know the EKG is not the best test for DCM, but has anyone heard its current status in diagnosis and following the course of the disease?
I consider an EKG, a 24 hour EKG and an echo all very important. Granted, my cardio does look indepth into parts of a 24 hour ekg like he does for the short office EKG, but we discuss the holter over the phone, and Niz's arrhythmias are frequent enough that they show up on the ekg. It is possible that a dogs arrhythmias are so infrequent they don't show up on the EKG, and may show up on a 24 hour view.

Niz was first tested at ~2.5 after our regular vet started noting some arrhythmias on our annual wellness check. Even though he was, and still is, very active and shows absolutely no symptoms, his heart walls were thin at 8.9mm and his shortening fraction as at 27%. I wish we had performed heart testing, especially echo a year or two before so we could see if he was just born with a worse off heart or if it had started thinning out. A year later, his shortening fraction dropped, but his heart walls stayed about the same (0.2mm thicker, but that's just probably because he had more water in his system/didn't pee it out and is a reading that can fluctuate slightly).

The progress of a disease is as important as acknowledging the presence, in my opinion. The more you know, the better suited you are to work against it.

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post #15 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 12:20 PM
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Sam- neutered male, almost 8

Echo, EKG, chest xrays: done yearly
Holter: every 6 months

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post #16 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 04:19 PM
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Quote:
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My last dog was tested at the age of almost 8 with just an EKG. The vet picked up some arrhythmias which were not clinically obvious yet, put her on various medications, and she lived in good health until almost 10 years old.

Now I've been told that, according to at least one study, the EKG (which can be done in an ordinary vets office fairly cheaply) is of little to no value, but that other more involved testing would only be available at a cardiologist's office (of course, bigger bucks and more difficult to get to).

I know the EKG is not the best test for DCM, but has anyone heard its current status in diagnosis and following the course of the disease?
Ekgs are useful tests for DCM, but they need to be done for longer than the 5-15 minutes you'd normally get in a vet's office, even a specialist. You need to do a 24 hour ekg with a holter monitor. A dog *could* be throwing a lot of vpc's, but just not do so during a short run of ekg testing.
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post #17 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 05:04 PM
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Quote:
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Ekgs are useful tests for DCM, but they need to be done for longer than the 5-15 minutes you'd normally get in a vet's office, even a specialist. You need to do a 24 hour ekg with a holter monitor. A dog *could* be throwing a lot of vpc's, but just not do so during a short run of ekg testing.
So does that mean you need to go straight to a Holter--or can the EKG pick up enough of the positive cases that it is worth it as a basic screening test?

Would a testing protocol like this work:

EKG-----positive (medicate as necessary, use EKG (plus echo, etc) for further monitoring)
|
|
|
negative---run longer Holter EKG------if positive (medicate, etc); if negative (monitor with EKG bi-annually or annually)

Or do you always run the Holter for follow-up treatments even if you already know your dog is positive, so you could skip the weed-out step of an in-office EKG?

We have a cardiologist who comes to town once a month for a day (who treats current patients and new ones they can squeeze in)--certainly I could get to a cardiologist (same one, different office) with a bit of a drive (probably an hour and a half each way--not terrible), but I was wondering if there is any place left for the in-office EKG--my vet said his office no longer does them as a screening test for DCM.

And then I suppose you have the problem of getting a qualified person to read the test-----but I'm just wondering.

Last edited by melbrod; 04-09-2012 at 05:08 PM.
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post #18 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 05:19 PM
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Quote:
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So does that mean you need to go straight to a Holter--or can the EKG pick up enough of the positive cases that it is worth it as a basic screening test?

.
You need to go straight to a holter. Again-a short ekg strip isn't enough, it has limited value as a basic screening test for DCM. The dog could be throwing hundreds or even thousands of vpcs in a 24 hour period, but show none at all during the 5-15 minute period an ekg was being run at a vet's office.
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post #19 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 05:23 PM
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Mel- are you near Fort Collins, CO? There's an OFA clinic coming up on April 28th. Orthopedic Foundation for Animals



Quote:
Originally Posted by melbrod View Post
So does that mean you need to go straight to a Holter--or can the EKG pick up enough of the positive cases that it is worth it as a basic screening test?

Would a testing protocol like this work:

EKG-----positive (medicate as necessary, use EKG (plus echo, etc) for further monitoring)
|
|
|
negative---run longer Holter EKG------if positive (medicate, etc); if negative (monitor with EKG bi-annually or annually)

Or do you always run the Holter for follow-up treatments even if you already know your dog is positive, so you could skip the weed-out step of an in-office EKG?

We have a cardiologist who comes to town once a month for a day (who treats current patients and new ones they can squeeze in)--certainly I could get to a cardiologist (same one, different office) with a bit of a drive (probably an hour and a half each way--not terrible), but I was wondering if there is any place left for the in-office EKG--my vet said his office no longer does them as a screening test for DCM.

And then I suppose you have the problem of getting a qualified person to read the test-----but I'm just wondering.

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post #20 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 05:27 PM
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Mel- are you near Fort Collins, CO? There's an OFA clinic coming up on April 28th. Orthopedic Foundation for Animals
That clinic in Fort Collins offers ascultation only (listening to the heart)-not enough for a doberman cardiac evaluation.
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post #21 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 05:36 PM
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oh fooey..sorry Mel. Sam's doc uses 3d doppler. That's what you want, correct?

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That clinic in Fort Collins offers ascultation only (listening to the heart)-not enough for a doberman cardiac evaluation.

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post #22 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 05:39 PM
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We have a cardiologist who comes to town once a month for a day (who treats current patients and new ones they can squeeze in)--certainly I could get to a cardiologist (same one, different office) with a bit of a drive (probably an hour and a half each way--not terrible), but I was wondering if there is any place left for the in-office EKG--my vet said his office no longer does them as a screening test for DCM.

And then I suppose you have the problem of getting a qualified person to read the test-----but I'm just wondering.
I think you'd probably want to see this cardiologist, whether at his office or local to you, because cardiac testing for dobermans is a two phase process, with an extended ekg (holter) being just one part. The dog also needs an ultrasound.
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post #23 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 05:41 PM
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I do get that you need the longer test to catch as many affected dogs as you can, but I was picturing was that with the initial negative EKG test you would automatically go on to the Holter. I wondered if you would get enough first-time positive short EKGs, that wouldn't need a Holter for diagnosis, to make it worth running the short EKG first. But if you run the Holter anyway, whether the short EKG was positive or negative, then running the short one wouldn't make any sense.

I don't think I'm making any sense either--I'll try one more time???

I was picturing using a less sensitive test (the cheaper in-office EKG) to at least pick up the obvious positives, and then going further on the negatives using a more sensitive test (the more expensive Holter) to make sure you got all the affected dogs.

I'm pretty sure the specialty office we use for a veterinary dermatologist/allergist also has a cardiologist, who comes down to the Springs once a month. The main office is only an hour-and-a-half away so it is doable. Fort Collins is unfortunately another 1 1/2 hours on top of that, so.......But that may be where the closest university school is--I haven't had to look that far.

Anyway, this all comes up because I asked my vet to do a basic EKG, like the one which had picked up the problems with my girl early enough to add another 2 years for her, and the vet said that a study had shown that the basic EKG done in a general vet office was pointless for picking up DCM, and that general practitioners shouldn't offer it. I thought it still had SOME use???

Last edited by melbrod; 04-09-2012 at 05:48 PM.
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post #24 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 05:44 PM
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oh fooey..sorry Mel. Sam's doc uses 3d doppler. That's what you want, correct?
You really have to check the details on OFA cardiac clinics to know if it's going to be useful for a doberman. The OFA cardiac database was originally set up for cardiac diseases that are obvious through ascultation and can be detected at very young ages, SAS (subaortic stenosis) being a good example. While they've modified their database to include DCM, you can't count on an OFA cardiac clinic offering echoes. The majority DON'T-they offer ascultation only. So if you're looking at the OFA website for clinics, click on the location on the calendar, and it will provide detail on exactly what's being offered.
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post #25 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-09-2012, 05:48 PM
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I do get that you need the longer test to catch as many affected dogs as you can, but I was picturing was that with the initial negative EKG test you would automatically go on to the Holter. I wondered if you would get enough first-time positive short EKGs, that wouldn't need a Holter for diagnosis, to make it worth running the short EKG first. But if you run the Holter anyway, whether the short EKG was positive or negative, then running the short one wouldn't make any sense.

I don't think I'm making any sense either--I'll try one more time???

I was picturing using a less sensitive test (the cheaper in-office EKG) to at least pick up the obvious positives, and then going further on the negatives using a more sensitive test (the more expensive Holter) to make sure you got all the affected dogs.
Even with the obvious positives, you'd want to run a 24 hour ekg to know exactly what you're dealing with.

When my dogs get echoes done, they usually get a short ekg done at the same time...but since I walk into that office with a report for a recent 24 hour holter, the holter report is what receives attention.
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