Thursday, April 28, 2022

Randomized feeding trial in Labradors supports link between DCM and diet

Literature Discussed: "Responses in randomised groups of healthy, adult Labrador retrievers fed grain-free diets with high legume inclusion for 30 days display commonalities with dogs with suspected dilated cardiomyopathy." Bakke, A.M., Wood, J., Salt, C. et al. BMC Vet Res 18, 157 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12917-022-03264-x

Key Takeaway: Dogs eating a grain-free, legume-rich diet developed changes to their blood parameters after 30 days which are similar to changes seen in dogs diagnosed with DCM, which provides early evidence of potential pathology. 

Summary: In light of ongoing concerns of diet-associated/non-hereditary DCM noted in the US among dogs eating grain-free and legume-rich diets, researchers conducted a short-term (30 days) feeding trial on a small group of Labrador retrievers. These dogs were selected from a colony at the Waltham Petcare Science Institute. Prior to inclusion, all dogs had baseline blood parameters measured as well as cardiac clearance via echocardiogram with a boarded cardiologist. 5 dogs were fed a grain-inclusive, no-pulse legume diet, and 6 dogs were fed a grain-free, pulse legume-rich (60% inclusion) diet. These were experimental diets formulated for the purposes of the study. Blood work was checked on days 0, 3, 14, and 28. Additionally, urine taurine was measured. The dogs were scheduled to receive end-of-trial echocardiograms, but due to the cardiologist falling ill, only six dogs were scanned. 

Friday, April 15, 2022

Change of diet reduces measurement of heart damage marker in dogs fed grain-free

Literature discussed: "Effect of diet change in healthy dogs with subclinical cardiac biomarker or echocardiographic abnormalities” Haimovitz D, Vereb M, Freeman L, Goldberg R, Lessard D, Rush J, Adin D. J Vet Intern Med. 2022 Apr 14. doi: 10.1111/jvim.16416

Key Takeaway:
Heart abnormalities in otherwise healthy dogs eating grain-free diets can be resolved/reversed with a change of diet. This is consistent with the findings of multiple previous studies as well as clinical observations.

Summary:
    A recent study (Adin et al.,2021) revealed elevated levels of biomarker cardiac troponin I in healthy dogs eating grain-free diets as compared to dogs eating grain-inclusive diets. This biomarker has been associated with damage to cardiomyocytes, the heart muscle cells. It was proposed that elevations of that marker in dogs eating certain diets may be attributable to low-level cardiac damage. In follow-up of that finding, researchers continued to monitor a subset of cases and measure serial levels of that marker after a diet change. That data has now also been published in a new paper  (Haimovitz et al., 2022).

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Preparing for Pet Emergencies: What To Do and When To Go

     No one ever wants for an emergency to happen with their pet- and despite our best efforts to maintain the health of our companion animals, unexpected things can happen. In the event of a true medical emergency, time of often of the essence, and has a significant impact on outcome. Being prepared for an emergency, as well as knowing how to recognize the signs of common ones, could potentially save your pet's life, and in some cases, reduce the cost of care needed for their recovery. 

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Disinformation Still Dominates Diet & DCM Dialogue

     It's been four long years since the 2018 announcement from the FDA about a heart disease called DCM and it's potential link to certain types of grain-free or pulse-legume heavy diets, and the conversation is still dominated by disinformation.

   Three and a half updates from the FDA and eight epidemiological studies later, there's a lot we still don't know. There's a decent bit we do know, too. We know enough to make risk-minimizing decisions based on the information available, while research continues into the foreseeable future, and these risk-mitigation decisions have the potential to save lives. We know that dogs are still being diagnosed and passing away from this disease. Unfortunately, the narrative available to pet owners through social media and trending articles isn't one that reflects the research and the reality in veterinary clinics.