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Could Your Dog Food Cause Heart Disease?

OOPS!  I totally missed the article to go in the Fall Newsletter with the DCM picture.   Sorry Pat! 

Please see the article below written by Pat Johnson Foster & Adoption Coordinator & Founder.

About ten years ago, my second golden, Holly, went in for surgery for an ACL tear. While there the vet found a heart murmur, delayed the surgery and sent us to a canine cardiologist where we learned she had Cardiomyopathy.

The cardiologist told us to buy some taurine and L carnitan supplements and told us if she was alive in two months to reschedule an appointment.

Wow! Was that a scary time. We faithfully gave Holly supplements and made a recheck appointment.The cardiologist did not recommend a diet change.

Fast forward to today.

Dietary Taurine-Deficient Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a condition affecting a rapidly increasing number of dogs in which the heart becomes enlarged and cannot pump blood efficiently, leading to decreased heart function affecting the lungs, liver, and other body systems. Taurine Deficient DCM is one of several cardiomyopathies, a group of diseases that affect primarily the myocardium, aka the muscle of the heart.

An echocardiogram is the gold standard for diagnosing Taurine Deficient DCM. However, taurine deficiency will not be identified by echocardiogram. The length of time a dog must be deficient prior to developing DCM is unknown and varies from dog to dog. Therefore, if concerned about a diet that you are feeding, the taurine test is a reasonable and appropriate first step. If taurine is normal then the echocardiogram becomes optional. Having a normal echo without taurine test does not mean that your dog is not taurine deficient and it does not mean that your dog will be free from taurine deficient DCM in the coming weeks, months, or years.

In addition to diet, Dr. Stern who is researching this topic at UC Davis, suspects genetic factors might be involved in increasing the risk of this conditions within the golden retrievers breed.

“I suspect that golden retrievers might have something in their genetic make-up that makes them less efficient at making taurine,” said Dr. Stern. “Couple that with certain diets, and you’ve given them a double hit. If you feed them a diet that has fewer building blocks for taurine or a food component that inhibits this synthesis, they pop up with DCM.”

If  you can change your dog’s food to one that does  not have peas, legumes, potatoes or sweet potatoes, that’s a good start. Adding a can of sardines each week or an egg each day is also a good idea.

Your vet can do a taurine test. It cost $260 at my vet. We are going to test Keagan at his upcoming annual checkup as until recently we fed a lot of Honest Kitchen which is filled with potatoes and peas.

To learn more, Dr. Stern has a Facebook group you can join https://www.facebook.com/groups/1952593284998859/

September 6, 2018   No Comments