DCM Heart Disease and Dog Food
Your dog eats dry food? Must read!
Yesterday’s Castanet article “Pet food link to dog deaths” prompted masses of phone calls and emails to Pandosy Village Veterinary Hospital over the last two days.
Since the FDA issued a press release about certain pet food brands (including Acana, New Balance, Fromm, Merrick and others on the list below...) being linked to a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy, Dr. Jason has been contacting cardiologists and doing research to give the best advice to our pet parent community.
In short, Dr. Jason’s top recommendation is that a fresh, unprocessed, balanced whole food (raw or home cooked) diet is the best option to keep dogs in optimal health, including breeds at risk for dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM.)
We may seem like a broken record on this, but as Dr. Jason says, “fresh is best. The issues associated with high heat cooked diets and ingredients like pulses aren’t at play when you feed a raw, or home cooked whole foods diet.” This is why the top selling food that are our vet hospital is our Pounce & Hound fully balanced, wholesome raw diet, and we provide supplements and recipes for those who prepare their pets’ food at home.
However, if you are feeding your dog a dry processed food for lifestyle or convenience reasons (such as Acana, which we carry in our store,) or your dog is a Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Pitbull, Great Dane, Irish Wolfhound, German Shepherd or one of the other breeds listed below, here are some of the key takeaways that you need to know.
What if my dog’s breed is on this list?
- Best option: Feed a balanced raw or homemade food instead. If you don’t already and want to, talk to us. We can help.
- Second best option: Switch to a pulse-free dry food. Avoid brands with peas and lentils.
- Contact Pandosy Village Veterinary Hospital or your regular veterinarian if you have concerns about your pet’s health.
What is DCM anyway? Is it dangerous?
Unfortunately common with deep-chested breeds, DCM, or dilated cardiomyopathy, is the enlargement and weakening of the heart, which can lead to heart failure, abnormal heart beats, and weakness. We treat DCM with diet, drugs and Chinese herbs, but it’s a potentially deadly disease.
If you are worried your dog may be experiencing the DCM symptoms of lethargy and increased breathing rate when they are resting, and then we do offer cardiac ultrasound, heart measurements and Xrays at Pandosy Vet, as well as referrals to cardiologists.
What is causing the increased incidences of DCM?
It’s not as simple as food brand=DCM. A group of veterinary cardiologists based in the USA with input from vets around the world started noticing a huge spike in the number of cases of DCM over the last two years.
When Dr. Jason conducted his research, he found out that the current working hypothesis from that group is that pulses (lentils, peas and other legumes) were associated with an increase in DCM and taurine deficiency. The vets took dogs experiencing DCM off their current diet and replaced it with a pulse-free diet, and typically the dogs got better. The taurine hypothesis is still up in the air, since some dogs in the study showed normal taurine levels. Currently, structured scientific studies are being conducted to test the pulses and taurine theories - but the results are not yet conclusive.
What food brands were associated with this condition, and why?
First of all, please note that only 2% of these cases reported are dogs that were eating raw and/or homemade food.
Many of the top selling pet store kibble (dry food) brands show up on this list, including Acana, which we currently sell. Why? Again, the working hypothesis is that those particular foods contain pulses, and they are all popular brands.
But why aren’t veterinary brands and lower quality dry kibble brands showing up in the list? We would suggest that veterinary brands typically use corn or rice as a carbohydrate, and lower quality kibble saves costs by lowering the meat content with cheaper fillers such as rice and meat meal.
Raw and homemade foods are barely represented because pulses aren’t typically included in diets based on meat, organs, bones and vegetables.
Are you still selling Acana? What are my other options?
DCM is a breed-specific condition. Our best knowledge at this time is that dogs with a low possibility of DCM aren’t at increased risk if they feed pulses (peas and lentils.) For now, we are keeping Acana on the shelf for those clients.
If your dog is a breed listed on the chart above, we recommend moving away from a pulses based food. We are also in process of adding an additional dry/dehydrated whole food blend to our shelves - stay posted!
If pet parents are open to feeding raw or homemade food, we will be happy to help them transition to a balanced, fresh, whole foods diet. We not only carry our own Pounce & Hound brand of completely balanced raw food - we also provide recipes and supplements for folks that want to buy “meat only” foods or make their own food from scratch, so that they are giving the optional nutrition to their dogs (and cats.)
More questions? Need some help finding a new food?
Yours in holistic pet health,
Dr. Jason, Arnica, Hannah, Dr. Pam, Jackie, Christine, Jessica, Bethany and Ashley