On March 19, 2018 we had a consult and echocardiogram appointment with Dr. Bossbaly, the cardiologist at VSEC. We honestly expected Dr. Bossbaly to confirm the heart murmur Dr. Campbell heard, and move on. However, what we left there with was a diagnosis we had no idea even existed.
Limoncello’s echocardiogram did in fact confirm a grade 2-out-of-6 heart murmur with leakage of the mitral and tricuspid valves, but also revealed that the dimensions and contractility of Cello’s heart was consistent with the early onset of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). Because Limoncello is an athlete, Dr. Bossbaly said that we would have to consider that some of these findings may be induced by her athleticism.
We were informed that the progression of dogs with occult DCM is difficult to predict. If and when clinical signs arise, symptoms that may be seen could include lethargy, exercise intolerance, difficulty breathing, or panting excessively. We were also told that at this time there was no reason to be concerned since Cello’s heart rate was normal and her lungs were clear.
It was suggested that we do a repeat echocardiogram in 5-6 months, or sooner if any observable cardiac symptoms surface. It was also recommended that we start Cello on several supplements, keeping an eye out for any signs of loose stool or diarrhea:
- L-Carnitine (1 gram twice daily)
- Taurine (1000mg twice daily)
- Coenzyme Q10 (30mg once daily)
We were instructed to record Limoncello’s sleeping respiratory rate (SRR), as this is a subtle indicator of changes. Increasing trends may suggest the development of congestive heart failure. Normal sleeping respiratory rates should be less than 30 breaths per minute. If Limoncello’s SSR and effort increases, it was to be reported to Dr. Bossbaly and Dr. Campbell immediately. To help us keep track of Cello’s SSR, we downloaded the Cardalis® app in the Apple Store. I believe this app is available for other devices as well.
It was suggested at this point that we retire Limoncello from dock diving to be on the safe side.