DCM - Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a form of heart disease in dogs - where the left ventricle gets enlarged - making it difficult for the heart to pump blood. In 2018, the FDA was alerted to an increase in cases of DCM, including cases in breeds of dogs not typically associated with the disease. This led to a series of highly speculative reports in the media that created a large degree of concern amongst veterinarians and pet parents. Specifically, the media reports failed to mention that the FDA was looking at a number of possible causes and that there was no known link to DCM (beyond genetics - see below - and taurine deficiency in some dogs).

BREEDS AT RISK - Based on current literature, the incidence of DCM in the overall dog population in the US is estimated to be between 0.5% and 1.3% (McCauley, et al, 2020). While any dog can get DCM, it has long been associated with certain (mostly larger breed) dog breeds who appear to be genetically predisposed to the disease.


While there is no conclusive research on DCM and diet, a December 2020 study in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine with a small sample size (71 dogs) showed that 31 of the dogs diagnosed with DCM had a longer survival duration when their diet was changed to a "traditional" diet. The study defined "traditional" as a diet that is "grain‐inclusive" and one that does "not contain peas, lentils, or potatoes as a (top-10) main ingredient". Conversely, a June 2020 review of 100 studies of canine DCM in the Journal of Animal Science shows no link between grain-free dog food and DCM. Given the confusion casued by a lack of definative research on canine DCM, many veterinarians, and some veterinary universities, are recommending feeding foods with grains and no pulses, potatoes, or legumes, as a way of potentially reducing the risk of DCM.

Based on current research, here are some other dietary and non-dietary factors that may be related to canine DCM:


While it has long been known that genetics and taurine deficiency is linked to DCM in some dogs, there are other nutrients to consider when choosing a food for your dog including:

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 - Of the dogs in the FDA’s June 2019 report diagnosed with DCM, 15% (FDA, 2019a) had chronic valvular degeneration, which may indicate choline and TMAO are worthy of further investigation.

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 five related Golden Retrievers diagnosed with DCM showed improvements within 3-6 months after starting taurine supplementation. That said, recent studies (Kaplan et al., 2018; Ontiveros et al., 2020) have noted Golden Retrievers may be at risk for developing DCM, but have failed to identify a definitive causal relationship between diet, taurine, and cardiac function. 

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).

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".


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".


COAST+RANGE FOODS - All of our gently-baked foods  are a great option if you are concerned about DCM, because they contain high levels of nutrients that may help prevent the disease. Our foods don't contain any of the ingredients that should be avoided, as they may increase the risk of contracting DCM. We offer formulas made with grains and without. So you can make the best choice for your dog.


Our COAST+RANGE Nutrition Experts (PhD's, Veterinarians, Holistic Nutritionists) have over 100 years of canine nutrition experience. Answer a few of their simple questions to find the right COAST+RANGE formulas for their unique set of needs. 

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