On February 2019, we mentioned in our blog that the US Food & Drug Administration was conducting an investigation about reports of Canine Cardiomyopathy – DCM – in dogs that would be associated with the ingestion of certain grain-free pet foods. Recently, in June 2019, another report was issued by the FDA, but the results are still inconclusive.
The FDA stated that the affected dogs were eating food that contained peas, lentils, other legume seeds, and potatoes – ingredients that are found in grain-free food. Based on the data collected and analyzed thus far, the agency believes that the potential association between diet and DCM in dogs is a complex scientific issue that may involve multiple factors.
Dilated Cardiomyopathy is typically seen in large and giant dog breeds, such as Saint Bernards, Newfoundlands, Golden and Labrador Retrievers. Some small breeds may also present DCM, but not often. Dogs with DCM have their upper, and lower chambers of their heart enlarged. The muscles become weak, and the heart can’t pump blood as well as it needs to. Then, fluids build up in the lungs, and the heart gets overloaded, which leads to congestive heart failure.
Early signs of this cardiopathy are hard to spot. However, owners may pay attention to: less interest in exercise, lower exercise tolerance, increase breathing rate, excess panting, coughing, weakness, fainting episodes. In the vet’s consultation, a slight heart murmur or irregular heart rhythm may be identified.
More research is needed to find out if the link exists or no. The studies pointed out that DCM may be related to a nutritional deficiency in taurine – an amino acid that dogs need for the development and function of their heart muscle cells. Taurine is also important for the eyes, brain, and immune health. It’s naturally found in raw meats and organs, but not in cooked foods (in this case, taurine is added as a synthetic supplement).
Something else to keep in mind is that there are studies that relate grains in pets’ diet to digestion issues and some health problems. So, a good and balanced diet is the best way of keeping your dog healthy. Besides that, most dog food companies are already adding taurine to their recipes as well as selenium in order to avoid any possible lack of these substances.
Raw food is also a good way to supplement any lack of these substances as well as goat’s milk and bone broth. If you are not sure if you should start a grain-in or keep a grain-free diet, giving an extra amount of taurine and selenium would be a good idea.
There are many factors involved, such as your dog’s breed, age, current diet, and individual characteristics. If you have any questions, come to Hollywood Hound and we’ll talk about it and we’ll help you. As soon as we have more information, we’ll let you know! Stay tuned!