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Food Related DCM In Dogs

We wanted our customers to be aware of the amino acid Taurine in canine diets.

In 2018 the FDA issued a warning about Grain Free Food and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. The study was done on about 151 dogs nation wide which did not take into account genetic history. It set in motion panic and guilt in people that felt they were to blame for their dogs dying from DCM. The FDA stated that the Dogs were deficient in Taurine.

Taurine is an amino acid found primarily in meat. Taurine has many special functions. Taurine is a component of bile, which breaks down dietary fat. It’s vital for proper function of muscles, heart, eyes, brain as well as the immune system. It has antioxidant and anti-in-flammatory properties.

Dogs make their own taurine from the sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine. Recent research suggests that diet may be a factor in 10 percent of dogs with DCM. In fact, in a survey of veterinarians, 76 percent said they did not see any increase of DCM in dogs fed a grain free diet.

Grain-free foods have been safely fed to thousands if not millions of dogs for many years. The relationship to DCM is far from clear. The FDA is not recommending a diet change for any dog as their investigation is ongoing.

If people are worried about Taurine deficiency in their pets they should get a blood test before supplementing Taurine in the food, although most manufactures are adding to the food. It is a complex issue and as such all of the amino acids work together and not just one is responsible.

DCM occurs in all kinds of dogs eating all kinds of foods, from those with simple ingredients to complex foods, homemade diets and commercial raw diets.

Most importantly, of the tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands of dogs eating "boutique" and grain-free foods, only a handful are related to the problem. It is not time to press the panic button yet, despite the media frenzy.

Excerpts taken from Jean Hofve DVM .