Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Dilated Cardiomyopathy

The FDA recently released a statement in which they warned pet consumers about the possible link between grain free dry dog food, taurine deficiency and recent incidences of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. DCM is a heart muscle disease that causes the dog’s heart to become enlarged. DCM is a relatively uncommon condition in dogs with the exception of a few breeds which have a genetic predisposition to the condition: Great Danes, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards, Doberman Pinschers, and Cocker Spaniels.
While there is no conclusive evidence of a connection between grain free foods and the condition of DCM occurring in these dogs, the FDA is suggesting that the legumes used in grain free foods could be inhibiting some dogs’ ability to naturally synthesize taurine from the meat in the foods, but they do not know the actual cause yet.
How Does This Affect You?
If your dog is currently consuming a grain free dry food diet, you may assume (or be inadvertently misled to) purchase foods with grains as a counter measure to this possibility. However, grains do not provide taurine to your pet’s body or enable a dog to further synthesize taurine. Rather, they can lead to other health issues in some dogs if too much is consumed.
“Grain Free” has become a popular marketing term in the pet food industry, but “grain free” does NOT equal low-starch. ALL dry dog foods (grained or grain free) contain starches. This is because starch is required in order to hold the baked pieces together. The important thing to look for when choosing your dog’s food is a meat-first and meat-focused food with a low-starch content. Therefore, adding grains back into your pet’s diet will not necessarily improve his health or safeguard against DCM.
What Can You Do to Help Your Pet?
Dogs thrive on a meat-based diet with the appropriate vitamins and minerals provided in the proper ratios. Not unlike humans, dogs feel and operate best when they eat fresh, real food that is natural to, and appropriate for, their species.
It is for this reason that we recommend fresh, minimally processed diets such as a raw food diet, lightly cooked fresh food diet, freeze dried raw food, or dehydrated food. These diets retain the vital nutrients, protein, vitamins and minerals that your pets need in a highly bio-available form.
In order to produce taurine, dogs must eat meat. If you are concerned about taurine deficiency or DCM in your pet, think about increasing the meat content and decreasing the starch in their food. Even if you are unable to switch to one of these recommended diets entirely, your pets will benefit from the addition of fresh food that is high in taurine offered at meal times or as snacks.
Please do not become frightened by the media headlines regarding this issue. If you are concerned about your pet, gather the facts and ask questions. If you would like further information on these foods or what changes you can make, please come talk to us and we will be more than happy to help in any way that we can.
If you are interested in more information regarding DCM and taurine deficiency in dogs, these links are a great place to start: