Histologic comparison in two Doberman pinschers with a dilated cardiomyopathy phenotype.
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Idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a common acquired cardiac disease in large breed dogs with a high prevalence in Doberman pinschers. It is characterized histologically by attenuated wavy fibers and fatty infiltration with degeneration. The phenotypic appearance of DCM includes ventricular dilation with systolic dysfunction and ventricular arrhythmias. These changes can be caused by other etiologies, including infectious, toxic, metabolic, and nutritional deficiencies. Chagas disease is the result of an infection with the protozoal parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, transmitted by an insect vector. Histopathology of the myocardium is characterized by inflammation, fibrosis, and pseudocysts containing T. cruzi amastigotes. Differentiating idiopathic DCM from infectious myocarditis can be challenging when the clinical presentation and diagnostic test results are similar in affected dogs. We present thoracic radiographs, echocardiography, and post-mortem histopathology images obtained from two Doberman pinschers with similar signalment, clinical presentation, and electrocardiographic and echocardiographic appearance but with different appearing radiographs and different etiologies for their heart disease, one with idiopathic DCM and one with myocarditis attributed to Chagas disease, to highlight the value of considering alternative etiologies for DCM to guide additional clinical evaluation and owner counseling.