Our Veterinarian Answers Questions About DCM
Our Veterinarian Answers Questions About DCM
This post is written by our holistic veterinarian at "I and love and you", Dr. Angie Krause, DVM, CVA, CCRT.
What do I need to know about DCM?
- The US food and drug administration's investigation into the correlations among grain-free dog food and canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) found no connection.
- DCM is a rare heart condition that has many causes.
- The FDA has received a higher level of cases that they suspect may be linked to diet.
- “I and love and you” has no products linked to cases reported to the FDA.
- Taurine deficiencies may cause diet related DCM.
- The FDA is studying links between diets high in potatoes/legumes and taurine metabolism
- Dogs synthesize taurine through amino acids (cysteine and methionine)
- A well-balanced diet should have sufficient levels of amino acids.
- “I and love and you” continues to work with PHD nutritionists and veterinarians to monitor this situation.
- If you are concerned and want to be abundantly cautious, some veterinarians, including Dr. Angie Krause, are recommending taurine supplementation.
What is Dilated Cardiomyopathy and how can it affect my dog?
Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is recognized as a genetic condition in dogs, typically in large or giant breeds, such as the Doberman Pinscher, Great Dane, or the Irish Wolfhound. It is also seen in Cocker Spaniels. It is believed to be less common in small and medium breed dogs.1 DCM itself is not considered rare in dogs, but the increased reports are unusual because many of the reported cases occurred in breeds of dogs not typically genetically prone to the disease.
DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle and results in an enlarged heart. As the heart and its chambers become dilated, it becomes harder for the heart to pump, which can lead to a buildup of fluid in the chest and abdomen (congestive heart failure). If caught early, heart function may improve in cases that are not linked to genetics with appropriate veterinary treatment and dietary modification. Symptoms may include:
- Decreased energy
- Difficulty breathing
- Episodes of collapse
What is the FDA is saying about DCM?
In July 2018, the FDA announced that it had begun investigating reports of canine DCM due to a rise in cases reported in the last few years. “To put this issue into proper context, the American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that there are 77 million pet dogs in the United States. As of November 30, 2018, the FDA has received reports about 524 dogs diagnosed with DCM suspected to be linked to diet. Tens of millions of dogs have been eating dog food without developing DCM.”2
There is a range of different brands and formulas included in the DCM reports. These include both grain-free and grain-containing diets in all forms (kibble, canned, raw, home-cooked). The common thread appears to be legumes, pulses (seeds of legumes), and/or potatoes as main ingredients in the food.2 No direct correlation has been made between any specific diet, however the FDA is gathering information to better understand if (and how) taurine metabolism (both absorption and excretion) and amino acids may play a role in these reports of DCM.
While the FDA has found these correlations, they have found no causality. Thousands of dogs have eaten the same diets as the dogs stricken with DCM, to no ill effect. FDA lab analysis of grain-free versus conventional dog foods revealed little difference in levels of minerals, amino acids, taurine, protein or other nutrients.3
What do I need to know about Taurine and Essential Amino Acids for my dog's diet?
Amino acids are critical to life. There are over twenty different amino acids present in the body and these act as the building blocks for proteins and other organic compounds that are necessary for a vast amount of bodily functions. Humans and animals can make some amino acids in their liver, however there are also some that must be obtained from food sources - these are called “essential amino acids”. For dogs, taurine is generally not considered to be an essential amino acid because they can effectively synthesize/make taurine from other amino acids - cysteine and methionine. Taurine is required for a variety of functions in the body that include proper development of the neurological system. Taurine is also essential for digestion, metabolism and supports proper function of the eyes, central nervous system, and cardiovascular system. Natural sources of taurine include fish such as salmon and mackerel, muscle meats (pork, beef, and chicken) as well as eggs. It has been well established that cereal grains, vegetables, and fruits do not contain detectable levels of taurine. A typical well-balanced diet has the right amount of cysteine and methionine for a dog’s natural taurine production.
Conclusions and recommendations about DCM
At “I and Love and You” we consider our dogs to be members of our family and we take our mission seriously. We create all of our products with our fur babies in mind and make sure to balance our protein, meat and legumes in each of our recipes. Each formula is designed with the appropriate balance of amino acids to help support a dog’s natural production of taurine. We ensure that all of our products meet the most current AAFCO requirements and recommendations and review that often. We work closely with our partners in the community including holistic veterinarians and pet nutritionists who are keeping us up to date with the most current information. When you feed your dog “I and Love and You” you can trust that you are feeding them the very best ingredients from only the highest-quality sources.
DCM recommendations from Dr. Angie Krause, DVM, CVA, CCRT
DCM is a serious heart disease, but it must be emphasized that the occurrence of diet related DCM is less common.
If you are concerned about the risk of DCM here are a few recommendations:
- Screen your dog for DCM, a cardiac ultrasound with a veterinary cardiologist is the best way. You can find a veterinary cardiologist near you here.
- Talk with your veterinarian about supplementing taurine. This is what many of the veterinarians recommend. This is also what I am recommending for my patients: 25-55 lbs 500 mg of taurine with food twice daily, over 55 lbs 1000 mg of taurine twice daily.
1 "FDA Investigation into Potential Link between Certain Diets and ...." 19 Feb. 2019, https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/news-events/fda-investigation-potential-link-between-certain-diets-and-canine-dilated-cardiomyopathy.
2 "Questions & Answers: FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine's ...." 19 Feb. 2019, https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/questions-answers-fda-center-veterinary-medicines-investigation-possible-connection-between-diet-and.
3 "5 brands in 58% of FDA reports, dry dog food in 86% ...." 1 July 2019, https://www.petfoodindustry.com/articles/8306-dcm-5-brands-in-58-of-fda-reports-dry-dog-food-in-86