Is DCM connected to my dog’s diet?
By Rudy Leschke —
5 Minute Read
health + nutrition
What is DCM?
Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease of the heart muscle that causes it to weaken and enlarge, thereby reducing the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively. DCM symptoms in dogs include lethargy, exercise intolerance, pale gums, coughing, difficulty breathing, or even sudden death. It is primarily believed to be a genetic disease prevalent in certain dog breeds and is rare in cross breeds. Diagnosis of DCM can only be made by echocardiography, as this diagnostic is able to measure the heart chambers and pump functionality of the heart.
Is DCM connected to my dog’s diet?
Recent reviews of over 150 published research studies have determined that there is no definitive link between diet and canine DCM. DCM is a complex medical condition with many proven and potential causes, including genetics, infection, metabolism and naturally occurring nutrient deficiencies.
While diet is no longer linked to DCM, diets low in protein, taurine, and sulfur-containing amino acid precursors have been associated with taurine deficiency, which can lead to taurine-deficient DCM. Taurine is not an essential amino acid but is distributed throughout the body with high concentration in certain tissues, including the heart wall muscles, the retina of the eye, and the brain. Dogs are normally able to synthesize adequate taurine in their bodies, but some dogs may suffer from taurine deficiency. Supplementation with taurine and L-carnitine have been found to reverse the clinical signs of DCM (Sanderson et. al., 2001).
The Role of the FDA
After 2014, the FDA began receiving an increasing number of reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy, and the reports submitted included a wide range of breeds including many without a known genetic predisposition. This prompted the FDA to initiate an investigation into the potential connection between diet and canine DCM in July 2018.
It appeared that affected dogs were frequently eating diets containing a high proportion of peas, lentils, and other legume seeds as major ingredients. However, more recent scientific reviews as of June 2020 have pointed out the lack of direct evidence connecting those diets to DCM.
What is Tailored doing to address DCM?
At Tailored, we are committed to the health and well-being of pets and take very seriously our responsibility to make safe, complete, and balanced food for our beloved pets. Every Tailored recipe is developed in collaboration with leading canine nutritionists, veterinarians, and product safety specialists to ensure that your dog is always getting the safest and highest quality food.
Despite the lack of a distinctive link between taurine supplementation and canine DCM, it has been found that increased levels of taurine in a diet may help prevent or reverse the signs of DCM in some cases. As such, our pet nutrition experts have supplemented Tailored recipes with taurine when appropriate to help decrease the overall risk of developing DCM.
If you suspect your dog is showing symptoms of DCM, it’s important to work closely with your veterinarian to determine the most appropriate diet for your pup.
About the author
With more than 30 years of experience in product development for leading super and ultra premium pet food brands, Rudy is an expert in companion animal nutrition and pet food safety. At Tailored, Rudy lends his decades of Research and Development experience and background in engineering to ensure that each Tailored recipe is personalized to meet the specific nutritional requirements of each pet.