The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued warning against certain types of dog food that are linked to canine dilated cardiomyopathy or DCM.
On July 12, FDA released a statement making all dog owners aware about a possible link between the dog heart disease and specific dog foods that contain peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as the main ingredient.
The cases were observed in Golden and Labrador Retrievers, a Whippet, a Shih Tzu, a Bulldog, and Miniature Schnauzers and other mixed breeds. The cases were particularly worrisome as these breeds are not genetically prone to DCM. The heart condition is also less common in small and medium breed dogs, except American and English Cocker Spaniels.
FDA Warns Pet Owners
In its announcement, FDA said they received reports from the veterinary cardiology community about the growing cases of dog breeds that developed DCM even when they were supposed to be not at risk for the condition. The dogs observed were found to have relied on the said types of dog food as their main source of nutrients from months to years.
"The FDA is investigating the potential link between DCM and these foods. We encourage pet owners and veterinarians to report DCM cases in dogs who are not predisposed to the disease," said Martine Hartogensis, deputy director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine's Office of Surveillance and Compliance.
The FDA advised pet owners to still consult with licensed veterinarians if they decide to change their dogs' diet.
The board said it is now working with pet food manufacturers and the veterinary community with the investigations. For the meantime, anyone who suspected DCM in their dogs and a possible link to their pet food are encouraged to report to the FDA.
The condition mostly results in congestive heart failure. However, cases in dogs that are not genetically at risk with the disease may improve given the timely medical intervention.
The major symptoms of DCM include lethargy, anorexia, rapid and excessive breathing, shortness of breath, coughing, abdominal distension, and transient loss of consciousness. The dogs affected with the disease may also have muffled or crackling breathing sounds due to the accumulation of water in the lungs.
The cause of DCM is largely unknown. In certain breeds, causes are found to be nutritional deficiencies of taurine or carnitine.
As for susceptibility, male dog breeds are more likely to be vulnerable to the disease.
DCM is characterized by an enlarged heart that does not function properly. Specifically, both the upper and lower chambers of the heart become enlarged. The one side can be more affected than the other. When the lower chamber becomes enlarged, it cannot pump blood out into the lungs. When this happens, fluid builds up in the dogs' lungs. Soon, the heart becomes overloaded and congestive heart failure follows.