Just as diet affects our own health, it can also affect your dog’s health. Recent studies have determined a connection between diet and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. First, it’s important to understand this disease.
DCM is a disease of the heart muscle, resulting in weakened contractions and lower pumping ability. The chambers of the heart become enlarged, valves may begin to leak, and ultimately congestive heart failure develops. It becomes more difficult for the heart to pump blood through the lungs, and fluid begins to accumulate in the lungs. Some dogs may be symptom-free until significant heart failure is evident. In other dogs, symptoms may include lethargy, loss of appetite, rapid breathing, coughing, and transient loss of consciousness. Larger breeds of dogs are more often affected; however, DCM has been found in dogs of all sizes.
According to recent studies, there has been an increase in DCM cases correlating to specific diets. There are so many formulas and varied diets that it’s difficult to plot every data point on a graph, but as studies progress, the correlation between diet and DCM becomes more apparent. Many of the companies in question do not meet guidelines for research and expertise.
DCM may or may not be reversible depending on the underlying cause. The good news is that some DCM cases can be treated to slow the progression of the disease. The treatment of this disease will always be tailored to the specific patient, however, most heart diseases are progressive, so treatment will change over time.
No companies have stepped up to take responsibility or issue a recall for any formulas that have been correlated with DCM. Because research is still ongoing, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly which formulas are correlated and how it causes DCM. Pet owners are faced with high medical costs when their dog is diagnosed with DCM, and further research needs to be done to provide evidence for safer formulas and require companies to take responsibility.
If you have questions about the diet formula you are feeding to your dogs, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team is happy to provide recommendations on nutrition and diet specific to the needs of your dog. For more information, visit our resource page on Nutritional DCM.