There have been several hypothesis explored by researchers looking for a link between certain canine diets and DCM since the FDA reported a spike in cases back in 2018, including:
- Grain-free dog food
- Dog food made with novel (exotic) proteins
- Dog food made with legumes, lentils, and potatoes
Recently, researchers including Dr. Renee Streeter, DVM - our dog food formulator - published a report in the Journal of Animal Science that analyzed over 150 studies on canine DCM. In this report the researchers found no connection between DCM and dog food with these characteristics. Specifically the researchers found that these hypothesis "are without merit because there is no definitive evidence in the literature" to support them.
GOOD NUTRIENTS: While we can't change the genetics of our dogs, there are a few things we can do to potentially reduce the risk of DCM. Based on the current research you should look for foods that are higher in the following nutrients:
HOW COAST+RANGE FOODS COMPARE
Potassium - A deficiency in potassium can lead to the development of cardiovascular disease in mammals (Dow et al., 1992; Kjeldsen, 2010). Additionally, in a study evaluating 238 dogs with low sodium to potassium ratio (Nielsen et al., 2008), 21 dogs had concurrent cardiovascular disease, more specifically, DCM.
Choline - 15% of the dogs in the FDA’s June 2019 report diagnosed with DCM had chronic valvular degeneration, which may indicate choline deficiency is worthy of further investigation at a cause of DCM.
Taurine - Certain breeds are more associated with taurine-deficient DCM than others (Freeman et al., 2001; Backus et al., 2003). For example, Golden Retrievers with taurine-deficiency related DCM have been studied (Belanger et al., 2005). It was reported that Golden Retrievers diagnosed with DCM showed improvements within 3-6 months after starting taurine supplementation.
Carnitine - A deficiency in carnitine could cause cardiac dysfunction leading to cardiac diseases, including DCM (Keene et al., 1991; Mc Entee et al., 1995; Pion et al., 1998; Sanderson, 2006).
WHAT TO AVOID:
Tapioca - A commonly used ingredient in pet food is cassava (tapioca), which contains 10% arginine (Crawford, 1968). Cassava is known to accumulate cyanogenic glycosides, cyanide. When cyanide is consumed, it is converted into thiocyanate, which requires sulfane sulfur from sulfur-containing amino acids (Tor-Agbidye et al., 1999). Thus, there is an increased demand for sulfur-containing amino acids during detoxification (Tor-Agbidye et al., 1999). This can limit the availability of sulfur-containing amino acids used to biosynthesize taurine and carnitine.
Certain raw foods - Certain raw foods have been identified as goitrogenic, such as spinach, cassava, peanuts, soybeans, strawberries, sweet potatoes, peaches, pears, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, canola, cauliflower, mustard greens, radishes, and rapeseed (Dolan et al., 2010). These foods have been observed to have properties that suppress the function of the thyroid gland, increasing the risk of hypothyroidism.
Heavy Metals + China-sourced ingredients - Since taurine detoxifies heavy metals, there is an increase in the demand, which may result in a taurine deficiency (Sydney R McCauley, Stephanie D Clark, Bradley W Quest, Renee M Streeter, Eva M Oxford, 2020). Also look to avoid China-sourced ingredients like rice and certain leafy vegetables (Cao et al., 2010) along with cerel grains (Squadrone et al., 2017) because they are at a greater risk of accumulating heavy metals.
NOTE: information above sourced primarily from "Review of canine dilated cardiomyopathy in the wake of diet-associated concerns", Sydney R McCauley, Stephanie D Clark, Bradley W Quest, Renee M Streeter, Eva M Oxford".