What is the latest information about myocardial failure and grain-free diets?
As of July 2018, several cardiologists have examined this issue and have not come to a single conclusion — some have implicated diets and taurine deficiency in specific breeds (e.g. Golden Retrievers) (Olsen 2018) (Morris Animal Foundation 2017), while others have shown a relationship between the implicated diets and DCM but failed to find a strong association with taurine deficiency (Adin et al 2018).
In July 2018, the FDA issued a warning that some diets might be associated with DCM. However, the association is far from established or clear.
Which diets have been implicated?
Multiple diets have been implicated. One of the most common implicated diets is the Acana Pork and Squash Singles diet, although Nutrisource grain-free food has been mentioned as well. It is important to understand that any of the grain-free diets could be problematic (although there is currently no conclusive evidence that they are causal).
What should I do if I am feeding grain-free diets to my dog(s)?
There are several options;
- For dogs without cardiac clinical signs that appear healthy, changing the diet is the simplest and most conservative action until more definitive information relating to this emerging pattern is discerned.
- If you do not wish to change the diet as a preventive measure without more information, consider an echocardiogram and testing taurine concentration in plasma and whole blood.
- If myocardial failure is identified, change the diet and consider taurine supplementation regardless.
- If taurine concentration is low, change the diet and initiate taurine supplementation
- Repeat the echocardiogram in 4 to 6 months to assess resolution of the myocardial failure.
- Report your findings to the FDA.
- If you do not wish to change the diet or perform an echocardiogram, test the dog’s taurine concentration (plasma and/or whole blood).
- If low, supplement with taurine and strongly encourage changing diets to one not implicated in the problem.
- If normal, encourage the owners to keep abreast of evolving information on this issue.
- If you are unwilling to change the diet and are unwilling or unable to afford an echocardiogram and taurine analysis, strongly encourage the owners to supplement the diet with taurine, which is safe and inexpensive.