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What Is Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs?

Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease of the cardiac muscle that results in a decreased ability of the heart to generate pressure to pump blood through the vascular system.

Breeds predisposed to DCM include:

  • Doberman
  • Great Dane
  • Boxer
  • Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniels are the only breed specifically identified as having taurine responsive DCM.

The prognosis for dogs with DCM varies depending on breed and how advanced the condition is at diagnosis. Dobermans, for example, will progress more rapidly than Cockers.

Treatment: Cardiac medications are delivered by injection in emergency situations and orally in stable patients.

Fast Facts:

  • Of the 77 million dogs in the US – 0.5% to 1% have diagnosed DCM
  • Approximately 0.1% of those 77 Million dogs are speculated to have DCM related to diet – we use the term speculated, because there has been no conclusive scientific proof.
  • The FDA first launched its investigation into DCM and diet one (1) year ago. If the hypothesis is correct and dogs’ diets are impacting heart health, then why can’t the cause be proven?
  • The “cases” used to draw these hypotheses are self-reported by pet owners in the USA, meaning no conclusive proof of an actual illness was required and many lack important details, some don’t even include breed, age or description of the illness

Points to note regarding the recent FDA investigation:

  • Many of the dogs reported as having DCM were golden retrievers over the age of 10 and some as old as 13 – 2 to 5 years longer than the current life expectancy of a golden.
  • Dogs as old as 16 years old were included in this data
  • The youngest dogs tended to be Danes and other breeds with an already reduced life expectancy
  • 560 dogs out of 77 million were reported to have DCM
  • 119 dogs deaths were reported
  • 452 dogs reported were eating a dry diet
  • 9 dogs reported were eating raw
  • 26 of the reported cases had their food listed as “unknown”
  • Acana was reported 67 times
  • Zignature was reported 64 times
  • Orijen was reported 12 times
  • Of the products we actually carry, that made this self-reported list Acana Singles and Zignature Kangaroo were reported most
  • Though statistics were published on whether or not diets were grain free, the self-reported information often did not include correct formula names, brands or details. Making the stats unreliable.

 

What can dog owners do to mitigate the chance of their pet getting DCM?

DCM is a very rare, but serious disease. Of the 77 million dogs in the US – 0.5% to 1% have diagnosed DCM. DCM may be linked to a variety of factors including genetic history, breed, age, diet, lifestyle. There is no definitive evidence from the FDA to suggest that diet is linked, but we must leave that possibility open.

  • Keep in mind that all limited ingredient diets/singles formulas are formulated with rotation in mind. It’s best to find two or more formulas that your dog can tolerate and rotate every other bag.
  • The best solution to these concerns is a species appropriate balanced raw diet. With only 9 cases of raw fed dogs reported to the 452 fed dry, those who put stock in this study may be more comfortable making the switch to raw.
  • If raw is not an option: dry foods like Orijen, Go Carnivore for their high meat inclusion, and Open Farm for the transparency of knowing where every ingredient in the bag was sourced.
  • Supplementation: Phytoplankton is rich in essential amino acids and is absorbed in the mouth rather than the gut, ensuring even those with digestive issues are not missing out.
  • Feed “Functional” Meaty treats like chicken necks, whole herring, eggs, meaty bones, and green lipped mussels. Taurine is the most abundant free amino acid in Goat’s Milk – This is a great and affordable option.
  • Absorption: A dog who cannot break down his/her food properly is more likely to develop deficiencies even when fed a complete meal – Adored Beast Healthy Gut is a great option for these pets.

 


Sources:

  • FDA Report:
    • https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/news-events/fda-investigation-potential-link-between-certain-diets-and-canine-dilated-cardiomyopathy
  • FDA DCM Complaint File:
    • https://www.boneandbiscuit.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/DCM-complaint-file-1.1.2014-4.30.2019.pdf

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