Below is an up-to-date overview on the subject as many studies are ongoing and a consensus has not been drawn in the veterinary community with respect to the grain-free controversy. Once a conclusion has been drawn on whether the effects on specific breeds are, in fact, an issue, we will be sure to update our clients and followers with this important information.
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) , while others have shown a relationship between the implicated diets and DCM but failed to find a strong association with taurine deficiency.
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 a client is feeding grain-free diets to their dog(s)?
There are several options that clinicians can consider, depending on the clinical presentation.
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 the owners 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 (see this link for sampling methods and submission requirements).
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 the owners 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 the owners 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.
Also, with school starting soon and temperatures staying high, be sure that your pet has plenty of clean drinking water as well as nice, shaded areas for them to rest. Wading pools are also a good idea as long as they are in the shade and are cleaned regularly.
We have always taken pride in that we offer low-cost dental procedures (ultrasonic scaling and polishing). We have even been asked " why are they so cheap (my least favorite word). During a dental at our clinic, the pet is protected with a thorough exam, high quality sedative, tubes and monitors. We do not feel dentals should be cost-prohibitive. That said, we are going up by $10.00 per dental to cover the increase in cost that we have incurred in dental supplies, therefore' TAKE ADVANTAGE THIS MONTH!!!
Remember to make sure that your animal has water at all times! Start fly control now, it is not expensive. Fly suits may also help. Also be sure to pay attention to all lawn and garden products as they can be harmful to pets. With the weather getting warmer it is time to start walking your furry friends. Start off with 15 minutes in continuum 3 times a week and work up from there. This is especially important for young pets, but be sure not to over-exercise a young dog. Last but not least be sure to use sunscreen on dogs with a pink face.