Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Captive Slender-Tailed Meerkats (Suricata suricatta)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2014
Ashley E. Jones1, DVM; Amara H. Estrada1, DVM, DACVIM (Cardiology); Natalie D. Mylniczenko2, DVM, MS, DACZM
1Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA; 2Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment, Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA


A group of five captive-born meerkats and nine wild-caught meerkats underwent cardiovascular evaluations. Clinical signs associated with heart disease such as dyspnea, lethargy, inappetence and collapse were present in two captive-born meerkats. Physical examination under anesthetic restraint identified systolic murmurs and gallop rhythms. Hematologic and biochemical profiles and whole body radiography were performed. Identification of cardiomegaly and pulmonary edema in one animal led to full cardiac evaluations in the group. Echocardiography revealed left ventricular enlargement/dilation and moderate to severe systolic dysfunction in seven meerkats. The most severely affected animal was tested for plasma carnitine and taurine levels. Results were elevated when compared to canine known reference values. Therapy was initiated for all affected animals with an angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor (benazepril, 0.4 mg/kg PO SID) and pimobendana (0.25 mg/kg PO BID). In one animal with suspected congestive heart failure, furosemide therapy (2 mg/kg IM q 4–12h) was initiated for stabilization and management. This animal initially improved clinically but again became dyspneic and was euthanized 48 hours later due to anorexia and dehydration. Other affected animals developed clinical signs consistent with congestive heart failure 5 to 11 months following initial diagnosis and were euthanized. Ten animals remain alive at the time of writing. Gross and histopathologic examination of the animals confirmed the clinical diagnosis of congestive heart failure due to dilated cardiomyopathy. Dilated cardiomyopathy is a common disease in canine and human patients. Potential causes include genetic,2,6 infectious,4 immune-mediated,5 toxic,7 nutritional,1,3,8,9 and metabolic processes4.


a. Vetmedin®, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., St. Joseph, MO, USA


We would like to thank Mrs. Melanie Powell of the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine, as well as the veterinary pathology department, veterinary clinical and animal care staff for meerkats at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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Speaker Information
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Ashley E. Jones, DVM
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL, USA

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