Stopping grain-free diet, adding taurine helped dogs’ DCM

The scientists published the results of their research, “Taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy in golden retrievers fed commercial diets,” in the journal PLOS ONE.

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(Andrea Gantz)
(Andrea Gantz)

While Golden Retrievers may have a genetic predisposition to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), scientists documented that specific diets were associated with the development of taurine deficiency, which correlates with increased the risk of dilated cardiomyopathy. Specifically, in a study, 23 out of 24 Golden Retrievers diagnosed with taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy ate grain-free and/or legume-rich dog food diets. The majority of those dogs’ health improved after diet change and taurine supplementation.

The scientists published the results of their research, “Taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy in golden retrievers fed commercial diets,” in the journal PLOS ONE.

“Taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy in golden retrievers is likely multifactorial, including a combination of dietary, metabolic, and genetic factors,” the researchers, led by a team from the School of Veterinary Medicine University of California - Davis, wrote in their conclusions. Numerous veterinarians from across the United States also contributed.

Details of research on dogs with dilated cardiomyopathy

The researchers’ study involved 24 client-owned golden retrievers with documented taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy, along with 52 healthy client-owned golden retrievers.

All but one of the dogs diagnosed with taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy ate diets that were either grain-free, legume-rich, or a combination of these pet food trends.

“None of these diets were feeding trial tested using Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) procedures,” wrote the researchers.

Likewise, all but one of the dogs significantly improved their heart health, as measured by an echocardiogram, after diet change and taurine supplementation. Taurine concentrations in their blood also normalized.

At the beginning of the study, veterinarians diagnosed 11 dogs with congestive heart failure. Nine of these Golden Retrievers had resolution of their congestion. Five of them no longer required diuretic therapy and four tolerated diuretic dose reduction by more than half.

“All dogs with DCM in this study were consuming diets with similar characteristics, including grain-free, uncommon protein based, or legume-rich formulations...” wrote the researchers. “Although a cause and effect relationship cannot be proven, the associations are concerning and warrant caution as well as future prospective studies.”

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