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 media reports generating concern among veterinarians and pet parents.

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.


At COAST+RANGE our Beef Formula dog food contains no added legumes, lentils, pulses, or potatoes and has organic brown rice and pearled barley as the grains. Our Salmon Formula contains no added peas, lentils, or potatoes and has organic brown rice as the grain. Foods like these are recommended by many veterinarians for dog breeds at risk for DCM and for pet parents who are concerned about feeding grain-free foods.

WHY THIS MATTERS - 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 an evaluation of current research into DCM, it appears that diets with the following characteristics may help reduce the risk of DCM.

Higher Protein - Higher protein diets typically have higher levels of key amino acids like Taurine and Carnitine. A deficiency in these amino acids has been linked to DCM in certain dog breeds - see below.

Higher 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. 

Higher Choline - 15% of the dogs in the FDA’s June 2019 report diagnosed with DCM had chronic valvular degeneration which could indicate that choline deficiency is worthy of further investigation as a potential cause of DCM.

Higher Taurine - Deficiency in Taurine, an amino acid, has been linked to DCM in certain breeds (Freeman et al., 2001; Backus et al., 2003). For example, Golden Retrievers with taurine-deficiency related DCM showed improvements within 3-6 months after increasing the levels of taurine in their diets (Belanger et al., 2005).

Higher Carnitine - A deficiency in the amino acid 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".


Based on an evaluation of current research into DCM, it appears that diets containing the following ingredients likely increase the risk of DCM. These ingredients include:

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 cereal 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".


All of our gently-baked foods are a great option if you are concerned about DCM, because they contain high levels of animal protein and 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.

WHY THIS MATTERS - Increased levels of Taurine, Choline, Carnitine, and Potassium may reduce the risk of DCM. Conversely. tapioca, certain raw ingredients, and ingredients with high levels of heavy metals (like some soured from China) appear to increase the risk of DCM and may need to be avoided (McCauley, et al, 2020).


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