We originally wrote about Diet Related Dilated Cardiomyopathy back in July 2018 featuring Mariposa. Mariposa is a dog who was diagnosed with this disease following an episode when her heart rate and blood pressure suddenly dropped dangerously low during anesthesia. Prior to this Mariposa’s physical exam and blood tests were normal. Mariposa has never displayed any signs of heart disease. Most dogs with cardiac disease have heart murmurs, decreased energy, cough, and/or changes in breathing.
Since Mariposa’s diagnosis, multiple FDA warnings have come out about the link between certain diets and heart disease. We have learned more about this condition but as with many medical conditions it is proving to more complex than originally thought.
To date it is not known why certain diets are causing dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs. The veterinary community is diligently working to find out what the exact link is and keep our dogs safe. What we do know is that some dogs fed grain free and boutique exotic ingredient diets are developing dilated cardiomyopathy. If caught early and the diet is changed, the heart disease can be REVERSED. With traditional Dilated Cardiomyopathy which has a genetic predisposition this is not the case and this disease progresses despite treatment.
We are ecstatic to say that Mariposa is now off all of her cardiac medications and her heart function is essentially normal! While Mariposa’s case has a happy ending, it was luck that she had an anesthetic event that led the veterinarians to check her cardiac function with an echocardiogram. If not for this, her cardiac disease would have gone undetected until it had progressed to an irreversible stage.
Unfortunately, the veterinarians at Hawthorne Hills Veterinary Hospital have now diagnosed multiple cases of diet related dilated cardiomyopathy. Fortunately, following a diet change, more than one pet has been able to come off of their cardiac medications and now have normal cardiac function.
Until the veterinary community has more concrete information, Hawthorne Hills Veterinary Hospital recommends only feeding diets that comply with the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) nutritional guidelines. Please see the link below for these guidelines. The brands that comply with the guidelines are Hill’s Science Diet, Royal Canin, Purina ProPlan and Eukanuba with grain.
What to do if your dog is on a grain free diet:
You should change to one of the above brands with grain. Pet owners who do not want to change diets should speak to their veterinarian and have their dog’s taurine blood levels tested and an echocardiogram done by a board-certified veterinary cardiologist. Supplementing Taurine alone, does not protect your dog as 85% of affected dogs have normal taurine blood levels. Many dogs with Dilated Cardiomyopathy do not show any clinical signs of heart disease until it is too late to do anything about it. It is important to be proactive and ensure your pet is not affected.