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Can my pet’s diet cause a broken heart?

You may have seen recently on the news, that there is emerging evidence suggesting some of our pet’s food may be causing a type of heart disease called Dilated Cardiomyopathy or DCM.  DCM is a disease that causes the muscle walls of the heart to weaken, leading to an enlarged heart, arrhythmias, possible heart failure, and eventually death.  So which foods are being linked to this type of heart disease?  Although it is not completely clear, it is suspected that grain-free diets, boutique brand foods, and exotic meats/vegetables are being linked.  It was initially suspected that low taurine levels, an amino acid, was the cause but further research has shown that this is not the cause in the majority of nutritional DCM cases. At this point the FDA is conducting research on the issue to determine if there is another dietary deficiency or possible toxicity associated with the diets so that we will hopefully have more answers soon.

We highly recommend evaluating your pet’s diet in light of these findings.  We recommend that your pet eat foods that have been formulated and tested with AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) feeding trials.  They should also be made for specific life stages - puppy, adult, large breed, senior, etc.  Diets formulated for all life stages are not recommended.  We do not recommend raw diets, as they carry a risk of serious infections for both the pets and the owners.  We also do not recommend home cooked diets unless under the supervision of a veterinary nutritionist.  Lastly, when shopping for a new pet food, please consider veterinarian recommendations in lieu of the pet stores who may have different priorities.  The brands that we recommend the most are Royal Canin, Hill’s Science Diet, and Purina.

For more information on pet nutrition and dietary DCM, please see http://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/pet-nutrition-basics/ or call us to speak with one of our staff members.

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